Monthly Archives: August 2011

Translation Telephone

By | Translations | No Comments

I recently discovered this website through a friend of mine and thought it was a great example of the problems with machine translations.

The concept is the same as the children’s game “telephone.”  In that game a group of children sit in a circle and one child whispers something into the ear of the person on their left, who then whispers what they heard into the person on their left.  This continues until the message gets back to the original child.  The message that the first kid gets back is usually much different than the one he first sent.

This website runs whatever text you enter through a series of different language translators and then back into English.  Like in the children’s game the message is almost always different – and frequently quite opposite.

Check it out yourself:  My personal favourite is “make love not war;” you get back “We love war.”


Translation Memories

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We recently had a client come to AZ World to have three legal contracts translated.  The contracts were nearly identical, the only difference being the dates and beneficiaries.  The client had previously gone to a translator who was going to charge for each contract separately, despite the fact that the documents were almost the same.  The client then came to AZ World and we were able to translate the documents for 40% less than the first translator.  This was because AZ World uses a translation memory.

A translation memory is a growing database of words and phrases that constantly learns from the translator, capturing the client’s translation, and retaining it for future use.  This translation memory is unique to the client to maintain consistency of style, lexicon, sentence structure, and details from project to project.  Therefore, the client never pays to have the same sentence translated twice.  This means reduced costs for clients as well as a higher quality translation and quicker delivery.

A translation memory is unique to the client, so it isn’t just a dictionary of phrases standard for a certain language.  Because it is individualized for each client, it can employ industry specific terms that will make the translation more useful for that client’s specific needs.

If you plan on having multiple documents translated or even if you know just a few phrases will be repeated, it pays to choose a translator that uses a translation memory.

Get the Most Out of a Conference Interpreter

By | Interpretation | No Comments

We’ve discussed in a previous post how best to use an interpreter in smaller meetings, but things are slightly different when speaking to a larger multilingual audience.

When speaking to a conference with various different language groups there are a few steps you can take to make your speech more effective.

First, give a copy of your written speech or notes to the interpreter beforehand.  This helps them become more familiar with the context and subject of your speech.  Don’t feel that this forces you to stick to the script you’ve given the interpreters though, they are interpreting as you speak and will interpret what you say, not what you planned on saying.

If you know your material inside and out and don’t have a speech or notes, it can still be helpful to provide interpreters with any technical vocabulary.

Also, take into account any films or slides you will be using as well.  Make sure the interpreters have a copy of the script or text, as they may not be able to see it well on the screen.  Interpreters do not often have an ideal viewing angle.

Don’t check the microphone by tapping it as this can damage the interpreter’s hearing, simply say a few words of greeting.  Also speak at a good distance from the microphone to ensure no interference is created: the clearer the sound the clearer the interpreted message.

Make sure to speak at a normal and conversational pace.  This is just good general speaking advice.  Your audience is at ease when you are and will absorb better when relaxed, regardless of language.

Remember that the interpreter is your voice to all those delegates that don’t understand the language you speak.  A little bit of preparation and form can make your speech much more effective when speaking through an interpreter.