The world is getting smaller, and tools like social media have made it possible to connect with people all over the world. However, language barriers continue to present obstacles. Human translation is the gold standard for communication between cultures, but it isn’t practical for every interaction. Fortunately, advances in machine translation and neural machine translation offer effective solutions for certain situations.
With businesses developing in emerging markets and the increasing need for global collaboration, the demand for translation services is growing exponentially. It is more important than ever to make content available over a variety of languages in as short an amount of time as possible. As machine translation continues to develop and improve, it's becoming an increasingly important tool for organizations with specific translation needs.
Google Translate now supports 13 additional languages, bringing the total to over 100 (103 to be exact). According to Google’s estimate, the free translation service now covers an astonishing 99% of the online population.
Google Translate has come a long way. It first launched in 2006 using an early form of computer-assisted translation, based on information from dictionaries, grammar guides and other sources. The first language pair in April 2006 was English and Arabic, which was then followed by translations between English, Chinese and Russian in December 2006. The number of supported languages began to increase in 2007, and now, a decade later, the service has passed the 100 languages mark.
Translation of medical device packaging and instructions can be a life or death situation.
As we enter 2016, the United States remains the largest medical device market in the world, outperforming other developed markets. There are more than 6,500 medical device companies in the United States, and these companies exported more than $44 billion in products in 2012 (the most current year of available data). One of the forces that drives this market growth is the ability to quickly translate and publish medical device documentation, making it available and accessible to users worldwide. But, before medical devices are approved for market entry, all of this information must be carefully adapted to comply with international, regional and local laws. Translated documentation must meet strict language criteria and abide by regulations enforced by international governmental bodies.
The correct usage of a medical device is crucial, and can be a life or death situation, depending on the device and its use. The importance of accurate and precise translation cannot be overstated for these devices when they are released in overseas markets – there is no room for error.
A quality result on translation services is more important now than ever.
Translation services are an important and necessary part of many businesses that have an international presence. When you have need for translation services, it's very important for the job to be done correctly. Choosing the right type of provider for your translation needs is an important part of the process.
What Does Value Mean?
There are important distinctions between cost and value, especially when it comes to translation services. Cost is typically a starting point for someone shopping for translation services, but not all translations are created equal. In this context, value is often more important, as there can be a huge difference in the quality of the translators, reviewers, and even the translation process that each provider offers.
Value, for translation services, then is getting the best services at the lowest possible price. So what type of translation solutions give the best value?
Freelance, In-House, or LSP
Let’s discuss three of the main resources for translating professional content, as each have their own set of pros and cons.
Freelance translators can sometimes offer the lowest direct cost for services and are typically seen as the most cost-effective solution. For a one-off, simple and small project, they can indeed make the most sense. However, when working on a multi-lingual or more complex project, a company has to dedicate internal resources to managing however many individuals are involved, recruiting and vetting each translator and reviewer for quality, arranging schedules and managing glossaries and translation memory content, which may or may not be in that project manager’s experience or expertise. Taking all factors into consideration, the relatively low per-word fees charged by freelancers may not be as low as they seem.
In-house linguists often have a main job with entirely different responsibilities, and are then asked to “help” with translations. They may work in sales, or marketing, or any number of other roles, and it can hardly be more efficient to obtain translation services than to ask someone just a desk away. Plus, from a terminology standpoint, they’re bound to have an intimate knowledge of preferred industry terms. However, just because a person is bilingual, does not mean that they are necessarily trained, experienced, and good at everything that goes into being a professional translator. Aside from resources and research, there’s the technical ability to produce content without typos or grammar errors. And the additional complicating factor is that this may complicate or compromise their ability to perform their main job, depending on what that job description is. The “side projects” requested of them may cause conflicts reducing in reduced morale, and lateness.
When learning a foreign language, accurate pronunciation of new vocabulary words can be one of the toughest skills to master. As the language-learning world becomes more and more digital, language learners are more likely to turn to online tools, such as Google Translate, for pronunciation help. However, the computer voice often sounds robotic, garbled, and difficult to understand.
DITA is a model for using the XML markup language to write and publish content. DITA was developed by IBM as a way to make reusing content more efficient. Incorporating the DITA method can be a very effective tool for quickly creating content for enterprise projects. One of the biggest benefits of using DITA is that it allows users to easily organize content and optimize it for re-use in the future, and hopefully never having to pay twice for the translation of any content. A key part of succeeding with DITA as it relates to localization is proper planning and resource selection.
Here’s the situation: you’ve got TONS of text that needs translation (tens, maybe even hundreds of thousands of words) but there isn’t room in your budget for the higher cost of “standard” translation, and you’re faced with an expedited timeline. Most likely, under such circumstances, the traditional human translation process simply isn’t feasible.
Machine translation (MT) engines can translate large quantities of data in minutes or hours, and for a fraction of the cost. However, most of us have seen some comical examples of the sub-par translations produced by any of the free online MT solutions. Gibberish certainly isn't an acceptable form of communication!
Fortunately, the quality of customized, trained MT engines has come a long way, and for certain content, it’s the perfect option. When MT is supplemented with extensive industry-specific Translation Memories and Glossaries (e.g. Life Sciences, IT, Electronics, Medical Devices, Automotive), along with a human post-editing touch, your desired linguistic quality is within reach.
The most critical step to improving the quality of your MT results is through the post-editing process. To benefit from “the best of both worlds”, you would first run your content through MT software and then arrange for a professional translator to perform post-editing. This way, a human expert will enhance the quality by correcting grammar, terminology and punctuation, among other issues.
Translation memory is an essential tool for increasing consistency and efficiency, and can result in significant cost savings over time. Translation memory (TM) software is a valuable tool for translators and often a client’s best friend.
What is translation memory? In simple terms, a TM it is a database consisting of “segments” (phrases and sentences) that are stored as the original source language along with translated target language “segments” that correspond to the original content.