Three Tech Trends in Translation in 2015

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After adding 4 new languages to learn in 2014, the online language teacher will continue to grow in users and is expected to add Turkish soon.  While Duolingo’s original focus was providing crowdsourced translations of the internet, it has begun to instead focus on teaching languages to people in the developing world.  Duolingo will begin offering certification and tests in more and more languages in 2015.

“Real Time” Machine Translation

The merger of Optical Character Recognition and Speech Recognition with Machine Translation tools like Google or Bing translation software seems obvious in retrospect.  In 2015 these kinds of tools will become more prevalent with Skype beta testing its English to Spanish interpretation using Bing and an upcoming Google translation app to offer live text translation.

Translation demand will grow with the Internet

Despite technological improvements to machine translation and crowdsourced translations at Facebook, Twitter or through Duolingo, demand for professional translation services will also grow.  As the world shrinks and different regions trade with each other demand for translation services will increase.  Despite the fact that Chinese has surpassed English as the major language of internet content, English remains the dominant language of eCommerce.  For most businesses online to tap into different language markets they require solid, professional translation.

Demand for Healthcare Translation Services on the Rise

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NPR recently reported on the growing role of interpreters and translators in the Health Care industry in the United States.  The article and accompanying radio report are definitely worth the read/listen.  Here are a few interesting facts from it:

  • A community hospital in Hillsboro, Ore., says that up to 20 percent of their patients require an interpreter.
  • Of 3,500 medical interpreters in Oregon, only about 100 have the right qualifications to act as interpreters in hospitals.
  • Oregon’s Office of Equity and Inclusion reports that it hopes to add 150 new interpreters over the next two years.

Demand for interpreters and translators in hospitals will only increase over the next 5 years.  Now is the time for health care providers to establish long term relationships with translation agencies.  The more you’ve worked with an agency the cheaper and smoother the translation or interpretation process can be.

Read the whole article here:

Consecutive or Simultaneous Interpretation: When and Why?

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A few weeks ago AZ World Translation and Interpretation was asked to provide a proposal for interpreting at a one day work shop. The client requested consecutive interpretation which is when the speaker speaks one to three sentences and then stops and waits for the interpreter to repeat those sentences in the target language.

We replied that we would not provide a quote for a full day workshop using consecutive interpretation because it was not the right way of doing it. For a training session like this one, it is best to use simultaneous interpretation.  Simultaneous interpretation is when the interpreter is only one sentence behind the speaker and the interpreter and speaker are speaking at the same time without interruptions.  Usually there is an interpretation booth and the interpreters could even be outside the room, with the audience listening over headsets.  However for a small group of 3 as in this case it can be done by whispering.

The client asked us why we wouldn’t go with consecutive interpretation; despite it being a cheaper option, and our answer was that it was not right to do consecutive. The best way of explaining it is what that it simply wasn’t the right tool for the job.  Though it could have worked, it just didn’t fit the situation. Simultaneous interpretation was first used during the Nuremberg Trials and has since been the proper way of interpreting conferences and AZ World is always looking ahead, not behind.

To summarize:

  • Consecutive works great for a Q/A period and simultaneous interpretation works better for a conference, presentation, training session, etc.
  • Translators and interpreters/translations agencies have the duty of keeping our clients updated on progress in the translation and interpretation world and should pass the benefits of progress to our clients.

Sharing Translation Memories Leads to More Savings for Clients

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The benefits of a translation memory are clear.  These living databases help companies maintain quality, consistency and tone across languages while at the same time reducing costs (For a quick rundown on the translation memories, check out this previous blog.)  For these reasons, almost all large companies use translation memories, and almost all professional translators work with translation memories.

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A Simple Guide to Understanding Word Counts

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The basic unit of the translation industry is the “word.”  Translators and agencies both bill by the word. But how you count words and therefore how much the translation costs depends greatly on the software you use.  Here’s a quick breakdown on the not so simple world of counting words.

Microsoft Word

The word count our clients are most familiar with is Microsoft Word.  While its word count has become much more accurate in recent years it’s still worth investigating what counts as a word and what does not.

Microsoft Word counts numbers in as words.  So, “I have 2 dogs” would be counted as 4 words.  Similarly, punctuation marks unconnected to other words count as independent words.  The stray ellipses “…” or hyphen “-“ counts as an extra word.  Microsoft Word does not count text in Headers or Footers.  For a long time Microsoft Word would not count text in Footnotes, Endnotes, Tables or Text Boxes, but in every version since 2010, text in those areas is counted.  However text in embedded objects, like an embedded Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, is not counted.

SDL Trados

SDL Trados is a Computer-Aided-Translation (CAT) tool that helps manage Translation Memories and is the industry standard in translation software.  AZ World uses Trados to analyze documents and then create quotes and proposals for clients.

Unlike Microsoft Word, Trados does not count numbers or punctuation marks as words.  But text in Headers, Footers, Footnotes, Endnotes, Tables or Text Boxes is all counted.  Text in embedded objects, like an embedded Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, is still not counted.


Typically Microsoft Word provides lower counts than SDL Trados.  If we were to create a quote based on a Microsoft Word word count we would no longer be able to take into account the benefits of a Translation Memory.  Even with an empty TM, Trados allows us to quote lower prices because of repeated phrases within a document.

We’ve found that the while word counts vary little between different software, understanding the basis of a word count goes a long way to building trust between a translator and a client.