What exactly is cloud translation?

Cloud Translation ExplainedThere is great excitement in the air about the shift to cloud translation. The concept appears simple and seamless, i.e. translation can now be done with greater collaboration and ease for clients, LSPs and translators on a unified platform. But what exactly is involved in this shift? What is required to create a true cloud translation system? Who stands to benefit?

To fully understand the shift from desktop to cloud computing in the localization industry, is to accept the fundamental change in ownership and access of translation memories from LSP to client.

Step 1:  Centralization of File Management

In traditional desktop translation, standard over the past two decades, the typical LSP project manager knows that a portion of the day will be spent troubleshooting hardware, software, or connectivity issues. Not something to look forward to for sure, as many such issues come as not-so-pleasant surprises that almost always cause uncomfortable delays. File management and organizational skills have always topped the list of a project manager’s resume. Translators as well have had to accept the unwanted tasks of file management and learning more about files, folders, and hard drives than they ever cared to.

Cloud translation promises to ease that pain and eliminate most file management tasks. In theory, the concept of a package, archive, file, or any of a host of project-related contrivances disappears. Best of all, reference materials such as term lists and translation memories are no longer scattered around the world to be later gathered and merged together by the LSP. They are kept safe and sound on the cloud for easy access.

Step 2:  Live Translation Memory is Where it’s at!

For twenty years file formats have changed, but the concept of translation memory has not, i.e. translation memory is a storage area where all past translations are stored and from which new translations can be leveraged. All sorts of attempts have been made to best manage this concept; from using translators on intranets or LANs to the aforementioned scattering and merging of “packaged” TM curated specifically for translators located around the world. Each method offers collaboration and leveraging, but each is limited by restrictions of scale, costly coordination, or lack of ROI.

Even the best of these attempts have fallen short of managing TM the way the cloud can; it is for this reason that cloud translation is so important to the industry and to those requiring translation today and in the future. The main feature of the translation cloud is access. Access eliminates the need for a given person to be in a specific location, which means translators can ideally be located anywhere in the world and have the same efficiency as if they were together in the same room.

Cloud translation is NOT just a system of file-less project management and online status, as some would have their clients believe. Rather, it is a system of access to a client’s LIVE translation memory where new translations are entered and existing translations are edited at any time from anywhere. Any system that does not include this feature is not true cloud translation.

Step 3:  True Integration = True Cloud Translation

It is popular in CMS systems for seamless translation to be confused with cloud translation. Customers find it easy to submit their text through plug-ins or apps that claim to translate in the cloud, but essentially those plug-ins simply “package” up the client’s content and send it to the chosen translation vendor. There it is translated using traditional, inconsistent means and the final product is returned to the plug-in company as a digital file that is then uploaded to the client’s CMS. It’s seamless to the client, but it’s not cloud translation.

Access, not seamlessness, is vital when choosing a translation vendor; by providing access a LSP is essentially giving ownership of a live TM to the client and providing support for it. And why not? Clients pay for translation, so why shouldn’t they have complete access to it at any time they want with the ability to modify at will? There are few systems today that offer this type of true integration, but the results are fantastic!

So, who benefits? Ultimately, everyone.

With access, clients no longer debate pricing. Analysis reports are performed by the clients themselves, and decisions can be made based on actual volumes and matching, nothing padded. Exact matches are priced at $0.00 since, after all, that is the best benefit of leveraging the TM; and clients can even get more for their translation dollar by doing some of the work themselves.

One client found that updating his user manual from Product ABC to Product XYZ could be performed entirely by himself using true cloud translation tools provided by his LSP. This type of product update cannot be performed by the plug-in company at such a convenience or savings because the client ultimately does not have access to their TM in a live environment.

The cloud is exciting because it is finally allowing LSPs to connect translators with clients via access to translation memory. Ownership can now be easily placed in the hands of the client and LSPs can provide better tools for better translation instead of file management.


Tips for Website Translation

WebsiteWhy Human Is the Only Option

As a website owner, it is your job to ensure every person who comes to your website or blog has the ability to read what you have to say so they can make the decision to take action. Yet, if you do not invest in professional translation for your website, you will under-whelm your target audience. You’ll also be wasting your marketing dollars. With human translation services, you get a better result every time.

Why You Need It

You may know the importance of having a website that is easily accessible to a wide range of people. No matter what you are selling or what information you are presenting on the site, clear information is a must. Keeping that in mind, consider the problems with computer-generated website translation:

  • It lacks any real passion – it does not know the unique cultural components that make a language authentic.
  • Poorly constructed translation leads to mistakes and misunderstandings with your audience (likely an audience you spent significant amounts of time drawing in.)
  • Mistakes will make you look bad. In fact, mistakes on a website are one of the most common reasons people do not trust a new provider. Would you trust a provider with content with strange phrases?

There is something you can do about this, though. Instead of using a basic website translation tool, turn to a human translation service instead. When you do so, you’ll benefit in a number of ways.

Consider the Benefits

With professional translation, you’ll gain the following. You will be simplifying your translation process, getting better results the first time. You’ll meet the demands of your local environment. Localization is a critical component to translation that computerized systems miss. Additionally, you will find that you are losing far fewer customers and website visitors because you have a website that people can understand, enjoy, and react to in the way you want them to do so.

The final website will sound natural. It will communicate effectively with your audience. None of the original meaning of your statements will be lost. Human translation does take slightly longer, but the quality provided far outweighs anything offered by a computer program. The complex sentences and unique local phrases are not lost. You get to provide your readers with a genuine, natural website that they feel right at home using.

Turn to a professional translation service to help you to achieve your goals. You’ll love the results you get and so will your customers.

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3 Common Mistakes of International Marketing

The need for global marketing has increased more in recent history than ever before.  Now, companies don’t just compete on a local or regional scale.  They must be prepared to expand to international markets if they truly want to succeed.  Unfortunately, most executives are not well versed in all the different languages of the countries they hope to do business in.  A savvy businessman understands this shortcoming and plans accordingly to avoid potential pitfalls.  Those who do not plan ahead may find themselves succumbing to one of these common mistakes.

English is everywhere.  Why translate?

English is spoken in many areas of the world but that does not mean that all people everywhere speak and understand English fluently.  As a matter of fact, most countries around the world only teach English to small groups belonging to the upper classes. This leaves out the majority of potential customers from any marketing campaign conducted only in English.  A prime example of this mistake occurred when Starbucks attempted to break into the holiday market in Germany by offering their Gingerbread Latte.  What should have been a great selling product performed very poorly because the company failed to translate it into German.  The next year saw a drastic improvement when Starbucks changed the name to Lebkuchen Latte.  Once everyone could read and understand what the product was, it sold quite well.

You ignore local culture.  Every country has its own unique idiosyncrasies and rituals.  Not fully understanding those cultural issues can lead to epic failures on the marketing front.  For example, suppose your client went to Central or South America with a campaign that compared the locals to Americans.  Most people in the region would be completely confused by that statement as they consider themselves to be Americans.  Instead of giving a compliment, your company would be insulting them with the exclusivity.

Likewise, each country has its own religious doctrines to follow.  Whether the religious majority happens to be Catholic, Hindi, Muslim, or Buddhist, failing to take into account the religious aspects of translated material can not only lead to poor sales, but in some cases it could lead to public outrage.

But it sounded great in English!

Would you drink ‘toilet water?’  Or let restaurant staff ‘eat your fingers off?’ Probably not.  But that’s exactly what some American ads in other countries sounded like when poorly translated.  Schweppes Tunic Water became Schweppes Toilet Water in Italian.  And Kentucky Fried Chicken went from ‘finger licking good’ to ‘we’ll eat your fingers off’ in Chinese.  Sometimes, the literal translation of the word or phrase is not what the message or the product is actually trying to convey.  There are subtle nuances that the translator must be aware of in order to translate the implied meaning rather than a literal translation which is what would be found in most OTC translation software systems.

Incorporating the global economy into your business plans in the future provides an excellent opportunity to expand your business like never before.  That being said, businesses that fail to capitalize on that opportunity are doing little more than spinning the wheels in the dirt.  The errors are costly and time consuming.  And, failing to capture the initial launch into a foreign estate, that’s one more opportunity for your competition to come in and steal the thunder.

Tips for Mobile Translation

When professional human translators take on the job of creating mobile apps in different languages, these specialized projects often require a specific approach that considers the design complexity of mobile apps, as well as the particular user base and how they will respond to translated text. When a company wants to reach local language communities with an mobile app, translation can be a core part of getting a project ready for release. Some simple tips can help companies pursue effective mobile app translations that work the way they are supposed to.

Do the Background Research

Before going ahead with mobile app translations, it’s extremely important for the company to know what kinds of language their targeted users have in common – beyond this, companies can also pursue what’s called ‘localization’ where they break down user groups into other demographics or identify different slang terms or dialect that may be popular among a user base, to really fine tune a project and its results.

Separate Text from Code

Many professional human translators are not advanced in handling raw code, but they are very good at translating words from one language to another. That means that for the most effective mobile app translations, some of the text for the app may need to be removed from its programming setting for translation. Some companies use simple spreadsheets to take out snippets of text that will be reinserted into code later, where others use specialized web hosted tools or other methods to sort out text that needs to be translated.

Plan for a Consistent Interface

One other very big tip for a mobile app translation is that all of the text on various screens or pages needs to be consistent in terms of format and appeal. That means looking at the individual phrases and sentences that will appear as the user makes his or her way through the app, to make sure that these will have the same kinds of sentence structures or formats that will be clearer to users – it also makes sense to make visual diagrams of how text will fit with graphics on any given app screen.

Define Common Terms

Having a list of definitions of common terms and spellings for ambiguous or most-used terms will also be a major part of effective mobile app translations – terms that may be used differently in different countries or language groups will need to be presented consistently and in ways that the largest segment of the user base can understand. That means having good reference materials that professional human translators can use to really achieve good results for these kinds of digital-based translation projects.

The Language of Italy

As any lover of language understands, learning the native tongue of another country is far more than merely learning vocabulary.  Language entails culture, religious beliefs, ethos, and gestures.  Nowhere is that truer than in the land of da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Pavarotti. Many Americans believe they understand the culture and romance of Italy, because the Italian influence is so great on our country.  We eat Italian dishes, study Italian art, and wear Italian fashion.  But what most Americans don’t understand are the subtle nuances of Italian culture that greatly influence the language.

Discard American Stereotypes

To truly understand another culture, be it Italian, Spanish, German, or Greek, you must first let go of the common American stereotypes for that culture.  Italian food in America is not the same as actually eating in a restaurant in Italy.  For example, spaghetti and meatballs is a fairly common staple in any Italian eatery here in the states.  In Italy today, the dish is not that common.  Many restaurants, other than those in tourist areas, don’t serve it at all.  Salads are served with the second course and are used as a way to clean ones palette.  However, many Americas visiting for the first time are disappointed because Italy is not the way they envisioned it.  They have all these wonderful images formulated in their minds and have great difficulty letting go of the fantasy to experience the true modern Italy.

Italians Move at a Different Pace

This is one of the hardest concepts to grasp for new visitors to Italy.  The largest meal of the day is lunch, which is not woofed down at lightning speed so that workers can return to their cubicles.  On the contrary, meals in Italy are thought of as more social events.  It is common practice for businesses to close midday in order for workers to take a break and return at 3pm.  Lunches are times to gather with family or friends and enjoy conversations of life.  There is no rush to eat.  That would be unheard of, as would dining without a tablecloth or a meal without wine. Wine is served with most meals.  As such, Italians learn to enjoy the flavor of alcohol with a meal without overconsumption.  While Italians take a leisurely attitude toward their meals, they are passionate about family, soccer, and driving as if they owned a sports car.  Crossing a street to get to your favorite restaurant can be a dangerous proposition at the best of times.

Learning to Think in Italian

While it may be possible in most instances to translate English into Italian verbatim, this word for word translation often misses the mark greatly.  To truly understand Italian, you must learn to think like a local Italian.  You must learn the cultural nuances and how those subtleties weave a rich tapestry that is Italia.   Only then will you be able to capture the feel of the language.

Italian is a true romance language, evolving directly from Latin, and learning it can give you years and years of self-fulfillment and happiness. But it’s not only about asking questions such as “what is the correct gender of my verb.”  It’s also about the immersion into a completely different world from your own.

Are You Brushing Up on Your Spanish Yet?

Have you ever thought about relaxing on the beaches of Mexico or climbing to the top of Machu Picchu. Maybe you want to see Madrid or travel to The Philippines. Well then it’s time to start brushing up on your Spanish because it is the primary language in these countries and more!

Spanish is the 4th most commonly spoken language in the world after English, Mandarin and Hindi. It’s the official language in 21 countries across 4 continents including most of Central and South America, Spain, Equatorial Guinea and The Philippines. Over 400 million people in the world speak Spanish. In the US itself there are over 35 million Spanish speakers. Many states in the South border Mexico, a Spanish speaking country, and you can find Spanish speakers even in New York. More than half the students who pick a second language in school or university in the US pick Spanish.

So if you are looking to travel to some of the most exotic places in the world, chances are you’ll be traveling to a Spanish speaking country. Learning the local language will help you make the most of your journey. From being able to order the right food to finding more about the local culture and making new friends, a little bit of Spanish can get you a long way.

Spanish also opens up many employment opportunities. It’s quickly becoming an important business language as many economies in Central and South America are growing. With our increasingly globalized world, it’s a necessity to know more than one language to be able to bridge the gap with different economies and sell your services or products abroad.

Apart from its wide use, another major reason to learn Spanish is that it’s easy and fun to learn. To start with, it is one of the most phonetic languages in the world. If you know how a word is spelled you know how to pronounce it. Spanish belongs to the Indo-European family of languages along with English, German and French. It also belongs to the Romance group of languages with French and Italian. Spanish, like English, derives many of its words from Latin, so much of its vocabulary is common with English. Thus, it becomes easy for English speakers to learn Spanish. In turn, it also becomes easy for Spanish speakers to learn other similar languages like French, Italian and Portuguese.

If you want to learn a language, Spanish offers the most number of rewards for the least effort. Pick up a book, search online or enroll in a class. Whatever the means, you can be speaking and understanding basic Spanish in a short time. So what are you waiting for, go get started now!

Words that Have No Translation

When it comes to translating and interpreting across various languages, one of the biggest issues that professional human translators face relates to changing words or phrases that do not have a direct translation. Within this general category of lexical differences, there are certain specific kinds of language items that don’t ‘match’ from one language to another.

Non-Matching Words and Structural Language Differences

Many words that seem to have no accurate translation involve fundamental differences between how certain language items are approached in different languages. For example, one type of difference would be the ways that languages construct their verbs. Here’s one instance of this phenomenon involving different sets of ‘Western’ languages that, while sharing many characteristics, do still have their differences. In Spanish, French, and many other related European tongues, there is a direct verb for the idea that something has a comparative worth (ex: Span: “merecer”) In English, however, a different kind of phrase is substituted, where English speakers will simply pronounce that something “is worth” something, or ask “is it worth…(x)?” This key linguistic difference has spurred many errors, for example, in European speakers asking Americans “does (something) worth (something)” Here, the speakers could perhaps be forgiven for carrying over their own verb into a translation attempt that is, in the end, not accurate.

Non-Matching Words and Idiomatic Differences

Another category of words with no accurate translation involves the actual labels or names given to objects, places and people in a given language. This set of non-matching words expands as more and more slang and dialect are included. For example, if a person from one language culture uses a local food, let’s say tofu, in a phrase like “tofu-eater,” a person from another language community must respond by figuring out whether that phrase has any inherent meaning in their own language. If not, the listener must ask the speaker more about what the particular label means and how it is used in context, in order to create a new phrase in their own language that parallels the meaning.

Handling Words With No Translation

Essentially, professional human translators work around this issue, in many cases, by creating new words and phrases that mirror the significance of non-translatable words. These substitutions can be elaborate descriptions, or simple single words that may roughly correspond to how a unique word is used in its original tongue. In other words, there’s a lot of fact-finding that goes into high-level translation, and research supporting the carrying of one linguistically labeled concept from one language to another.

Human Translation vs Computer Translation

Everyday people use computers to look up the meanings of words and phrases. Sometimes computers can be accurate and provide a basic meaning of a word or sentence. The rise in the use of computer translations has caused some to doubt the usefulness of human translation. While it is true that computer translation programs and websites are more prevalent, they are not taken seriously by professionals. Professional human translation services are very much necessary for anything beyond personal use.

Computer Translation

Computer translation is a popular, yet inefficient alternative to human translation. There are many different websites and computer programs that translate words into English as well as other languages. Many of these websites of free translations that are often completed within minutes, but they are really inappropriate for any type of professional endeavor. Machine translations are typically literal translations of the words on the page and they take no consideration about the context or cultural associations of the words and phrases. Relying on a computer program for translation can lead to a lot translation blunders that can make a person or company seem unprofessional. Although a program may provide an accurate translation of a word, it will begin to falter when it comes across complex phrases, sentences, and idioms. These programs rarely offer smooth, cohesive translations. Computer translations are suitable for people at home who want to get an idea of about what something means in another language.

Human Translation

Human translation is essentially a requirement for any type of serious professional endeavor whether it is a translation of a legal document or a literature book. Computer programs may understand the meaning of certain words, but they are unable to effectively translate the complexities and nuances of language. They lack the cultural background and knowledge to understand the context of a complex sentence or phrase. Human translation ensures that the document will sound natural and effectively communicate the original meanings. Medical, legal, and government documents are usually handled by human translators because translations used in these situations demand accuracy. Even if a computer has translated a word, it does not know how to perform localization, which is another way to further express the meaning of the document in the vernacular of the people that will read it. Human translation may take longer, but it provides a level of accuracy that computers are not able to perform.

Computers have come a long way, but they are still unable to provide accurate translations in most situations. It is acceptable to use them at home to research a couple of words and phrases, but the more complex tasks must be left to professional language services that only humans can provide.

The Future of Localization: Too “Fuzzy”, Part 4

This post is the final instalment of a 4 part series that examines the state of the localization industry and where it is headed in the future through use of new technology.

Translators already experienced in segment-based systems may rebel against this abandonment of the fuzzy match. After all, the fuzzy match is often used as a negotiation tool for acquiring work from an agency. Translators sacrifice a percentage of their full-word rate in return for the promise of the fuzzy match ROI.

The rebellion will be short-lived however. As pointed out above, term-based translation systems allow the client to have greater ownership of the memory and therefore expect greater ROI out of them. The days of the “review charge” based on exact and/or fuzzy matches are fading quickly. Translation agencies will be selling translation for one price only. Every segment without an exact match will be charged at a full-word rate, and the true competition for work among agencies will boil down to how well the online, term-based translation system can provide the best possible reference (think “translation experience”) for the translator.

Agencies will offer reduced rates based on this new cloud technology and experience. Margins will shrink, but so will overhead. Lots and lots of overhead. Our Verbingo technology has proven to shave 2-4 hours of time performing wasteful tasks on a basic, average project of 10K words into just one language. Tasks such as file prepping, material transferring, project importing, checking, troubleshooting, etc. can be reduced from hours to minutes using these new online tools. And that’s not to mention the practical elimination of everyday risks such as equipment and power failures.

Translators need to understand this business mindset, and that it’s inevitably on the way, if not already here. However, as agencies shift their sales discounts from segment-based to term-based processes, translators should also expect a similar shift in the way they expect to be paid. After all, if the fuzzy is to be eliminated, all that remains is translation at full-word price.

And why not? Why shouldn’t every word be paid at full price regardless of the level of matching?

In my opinion, translators stand to gain in this transition. The onus lies squarely on the shoulders of agency owners as they decide how to update their old systems with this new technology. New systems will allow translators to break free of the “fuzzy” hold and expand instead with new and creative ways to peruse entire databases of reference. The ability to provide an accurate and consistent translation can now lie 100% in the hands of the translator, and agencies offering the best translation experience will be the ones attracting the best translators, working out the best payment arrangements and expecting the best results for their clients.

Quite simply, if a segment can be presented to a translator as follows where client-approved terms are highlighted, and any further reference can be obtained by any number of intuitive, simple searches, the speed and efficiency of the translator will increase as will the potential for income. A flawed fuzzy match in this case might not only cause a good translator to question or distrust the translation memory, but also put him at risk of perpetrating potential errors and providing shoddy work.


This is a positive shift in our industry. Technology can now be put to work as a true value-add instead of a partial value-add. Translation memories can begin to be better managed, trusted and leveraged without spending wasteful energy on meaningless edits. Translators can spend more time providing translation instead of doing file management, software management and memory management. More time spent translating at a full-word rate means more opportunity for existing and future talent to make a good income while practicing their translation craft. The future of this industry is predicted to be bright, but not before it becomes less “fuzzy.”