A thought from Mark directed at UK exporters….
I love this job – but it can be hard to explain to others in social situations sometimes! Two recent illustrations: an acquaintance at an evening class, on hearing that we are a translation company, said “they all speak English on the continent don’t they!” Secondly pub landlord comedian Al Murray on hearing that a member of his audience was a Spanish translator quipped: “they all speak English, you’re surplus to requirements you are mate!!”
NO! According to some latest figures, approx. 56% of the population of Germany can speak English to some degree as a second language – a Eurobaromoter survey from back in 1994 gave the figure as 35%, so maybe there is a trend there. In the Spain the recent figure is 27% and the 1994 figure is 13%. Whilst these figures are not particularly scientific, there may be a trend to more people speaking English as a second language – but clearly this ability does not extend to the majority of the population in many key European markets.
So the key questions for UK exporters are: do the people receiving my communications speak and read English, and then are they more likely to purchase from me if I communicate in the receiver’s language? The answer to the second question is very probably yes: people are more likely to buy in their own language.
The graph below is taken from Wikipedia, and shows the approximate percentage of the population that speak English as a second language in each country.
P.S. According to figures released recently by fellow ATC members LTC, the UK translation industry is now worth between €636 and €641 million. Also please see our own web site for some figures on how much business is done in different languages around the world.
Our technology partner SDL recently sent a film crew to the Alexika offices as part of their series of short films entitled ‘A day in the life of….’. The second film in the series featured Alexika’s Mark Robinson and – as was the case with the first video on project management featuring Gemma Cooper and Becky Taylor – we think it gives a fair impression of what we get up to! We’d love to hear any comments.
One of the questions that the film addresses is how technology is used in a translation company environment. The film features Mark using latest SDL’s Trados Studio software, which we use to ensure consistency and quality of translation.
To see the video, please visit our youtube page.
Our technology partner SDL recently sent a film crew to the Alexika offices as part of their series of short films entitled ‘A day in the life of….’. We do not generally have a film crew around the office for a day but they made the process very straightforward and enjoyable.
The first film in the series featured Alexika’s Gemma Cooper and Becky Taylor, and we think it gives a fair impression of what we get up to! We’d love to hear any comments.
The film features Gemma and Becky using latest SDL’s Trados Studio software, which we use to ensure consistency and quality of translation.
To see the video, please visit our youtube page.
Stage 1 (le grand départ) of the 2014 Tour de France will pass near to the Alexika office – and Stage 2 will pass our office door! More detail will be published and in the meantime we’ll be thinking about how to mark the occasion. Exciting times for the Yorkshire region!
The route in outline can be seen at http://letour.yorkshire.com/the-route .
We are pleased to welcome the travelling crib again this year – the beautifully knitted figures will travel around the local business community before arriving at St. Peter’s church in Addingham in time to celebrate Christmas.
The crib will be visible in our office window tonight, and we hope that passers-by might stop for a moment to enjoy them. We wish everyone a peaceful Advent time.
I recently attended a conference in Germany about translation technology – by which I mean technology that helps the skilled professional human translator to produce high quality consistent translations in an efficient manner. I then read a Blog post from Microsoft’s Chief Research office Rick Rashid about the other translation technology – machine translation. Below are some thoughts on what point these technologies have reached and how they might impact on our clients.
Translation technology for professional human translators
It is important for Alexika that we monitor advances in technology, and I attended an excellent day organised by our technology partner SDL and then the Tekom exhibition in the same city of Wiesbaden. We will continue to invest in the best technology for our clients and suppliers and we judge that SDL is the ideal partner for that purpose. Their class-leading software enables translators to work efficiently and stores their work as they go – in an easily retrievable form. Terminology can be stored easily. The information is there for future projects, whether the same person works on it or additional translators are also involved. Clients benefit from this investment by receiving consistent and high quality work, and knowing that we can store any important terms intelligently.
Machine translation – Microsoft’s latest breakthrough
Millions of dollars, pounds and Euros have been thrown at machine translation technology for the past 60 years and there have been some exciting breakthroughs along the way. Rick Rashid’s blog is well worth reading. He was able to give a presentation in English with an instant machine-generated rough interpretation in Chinese – in his own voice. Rashid does however add a couple of caveats: “Of course, there are still likely to be errors in both the English text and the translation into Chinese, and the results can sometimes be humorous. Still, the technology has developed to be quite useful.” He also adds: “The results are still not perfect, and there is still much work to be done….” But it is a marvellous thing to be able to give a business presentation in English and have a Chinese audience understand the gist of what is happening at low cost.
Machine translation – is it useful yet?
Yes it is – free tools such as Google Translate or Microsoft’s Bing Translator are useful for many of our clients. If you receive a sales enquiry in Polish, why not get a free rough translation to see if it is worth progressing and involving a human translation service. Similarly an engineer faced with a Korean technical paper or a patent attorney with Russian prior art documents may use machine translation for initial ‘gisting’ before passing the document to a specialist if required. There also occasions when professional translators may use machine translation – in certain situations, it can save a bit of time to look at a machine-generated pre-translation before starting work.
The global investment in machine translation continues and the day is coming closer when people can have simple conversations quickly and easily around the world at little or no cost – with who know what implications for world trade and/or world peace. At the same time, the global market for accurate human professional continues to grow – according to respected consultancy CSA by up to 10% per annum. This demand for accurate translations stems from increased globalisation and the ease of web publishing.
Interesting times indeed.
We are delighted to announce that Alexika Ltd has been successfully reccrediated to the international quality standard ISO9001 – we have now been continually accredited since 2009.
This time we were inspected by ISOQAR, and in turn we were very impressed with their professionalism. The day was demanding but thorough. All of our management systems, customer care systems and procedures were tested. No non-conformities were found.
It is not an easy route, but we do recommend the process of ISO9001 accreditation as a means of ensuring that a business runs smoothly and that quality is a continual focus.
The French language is apparently in need of saving, according to the pamphleteers in an article by Stephen Clarke.
Entitled “The French aren’t allowed to invent new words”, Clarke talks about how he was handed a leaflet regarding the defence of the French language and choose the opportunity to discuss the lack of acceptance when it comes to new words.
The leaflet basically said that English and American-language culture was killing the French language, while Clarke sees them as ‘feeding’ the language.
Clarke talks about his first experience of the French resisting change, while he was working for a bilingual dictionary company. The French editor dismissed a word Clarke had seen in numerous French magazines due to the fact it was not listed in the French dictionary, deeming it not a real word.
The French do actually create new words, usually coming from its young people. The only problem is the fact that they are not actually deemed as real, until the dictionary people give them the green light.
To see Stephen Clarke’s article in full, please click here
We would like to say a public ‘well done’ and a huge ‘thank you’ to our Translations & Training Manager Gemma Cooper for her particularly hard work in recent weeks.
In addition to looking after our regular key clients, she has managed a financial translation project involving translators, editors and proofreaders in 13 languages. She has been working with professional colleagues right across the world in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America and coordinated with clients based in the UK, Canada and Australia. Thousands of words have been translated to the highest professional standards.
You can have the best technology in the world (and we probably do) but what a company really needs is great people…!
Each year for the past 10 or so, Alexika has been present at the London Conference of the UK’s Association of Translation Companies. The conference is the perfect way to keep up to date with national industry trends and of course to meet up with clients and suppliers.
The year the title of the conference was ‘Future Proofing the Language Industry‘ and our Translations and Training Manager Gemma attended this year. Highlights included looking at new ways to localise web sites and reviews of the latest translation software – whether in the cloud or on a server. We constantly review whether and how our investments in technology are of benefit to our clients.
Gemma commented: “This year’s ATC conference in London was very interesting, with the speakers covering an informative range of topics. It was also lovely to catch up with various people and to put some faces to email addresses at long last!”