Tackling Machine Translation

Not an actual translation machine Not an actual translation machine

People use Google for a lot of things. It’s hardwired into the DNA of my smartphone, and I’m pretty sure I’ve used a Google service in one way or another every day for the last decade or more. I can use it for everything from looking up sports scores to finding how many degrees Yul Brynner is from Kevin Bacon (2). Google is a super-useful tool, and like any tool, you’ve got to know when it’s the right tool. Especially when it comes to machine translation.

If you’re not familiar with the term, Machine Translation is basically using a computer program to translate, no people involved. This article gives an excellent overview of the process, and also, of its pitfalls. Unless you’re ready to risk giving the wrong impression about who you are and what you do as a business (Supreme Court Beef, anyone?), then you need to consider using human translators.

Don’t get me wrong, machine translation is useful, and is growing in accuracy. However, professional translators offer a bunch of benefits over relying only on a machine. Native speakers know the cultural nuances, the colloquialisms, and they know the specifics of a particular audience. They can specialize, and get very good at what they do.

At Access, we use software to aid in our translation process, including translation memories, and machine translations. We only use machine translation when appropriate, though. Every client has different needs, and no matter what, a professional translator will work with our translations to ensure they’re of the highest quality.

As time goes on, more and more of the work done in the field of translations will be automated. However, we’re a long way off from humans being replaced completely in translations. We’re going to use machine translation as a tool to help our translators, but it’s just that: a tool.

Sound good to you? If you’re a business who needs our help, check out our request form. And if you’re an experienced translator, we’d love to talk about working with you.

Poisson d’Avril

Do you think he's noticed? Do you think he’s noticed?

As we posted on our Facebook page, yesterday was the 127th anniversary of the opening of the Eiffel Tower. Today, as you probably know, is April Fool’s Day. In America, today is “celebrated” by pulling pranks and telling people creative lies; not always things that will to endear you to your friends and family. Continuing our French theme from yesterday, we support practicing the French tradition for April 1: Poisson d’Avril.

Literally translated as “April Fish,” today is celebrated in France by trying to stick a paper cutout of a fish to the backs of your friends. Kind of like a “kick me” sign, but without, y’know, the kicking. The person with the back-fish is then declared the Poisson d’Avril, and everyone gets a good laugh out of it.

So rather than risking the alienation of your friends, maybe try this instead? Also, at the article linked above, there are some good suggestions for fish-themed treats to go along with the day. See, April 1 doesn’t have to be all bad!

Cartoon from Toonpool.com

An Introduction

Hi there! My name’s Tracy, and I’m the manager of the Department of Translation Services for Access 2 Interpreters. We’re working to bring more content to the Access website, and I’ll be doing a lot of writing for that. This introduction is important to me, as we’ll be seeing a lot of each other in the days and weeks to come.

For this first post, I wanted to point you to an article I came across. Seven Benefits of Learning Another Language. Like a lot of kids who grew up in Midwestern American in the 80s and 90s, my only exposure to languages other than English came during high school. I grew up in a small town, and we had the option of taking either Spanish or French. I took French because that’s what my parents had taken, and that was about the end of my reasoning for that choice.

A lot of what the article talks about resonates with me, though. I retain a little (very little) of the French I studied in high school, and later, college. However, it has had a lasting impact on me. I learned more about English grammar from my French class than I ever would have imagined. Subjects, verbs, objects, they all meant more to me when presented in the context of a language other than English.

As well, that was the start of my learning to appreciate other cultures, and languages beyond English and French. I love to pick up little phrases in other languages (I can–perhaps unhelpfully–tell someone to be quiet and get to work in Polish, though in a rude way). As I’ve grown up and seen the world around me evolve from separate countries into an increasingly connected place, having the ability to see the validity and value of other cultures has become even more valuable.

In my role at Access, I work to ensure that all of our translations read as if they were written by a native speaker. The level of attention to detail that our translators put into their work is always kind of amazing to me. It continually renews and refreshes my commitment to learning more about the world, and about the cultures connected to the languages with which we work.

In future posts, I’m going to highlight topics that deal with translation, interpretation, and all of the social and cultural things connected to making sure people can understand one another. That’s the heart of what we do here at Access. If you want to find out more, check out our Translation and Interpretation pages. Until next time!