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Archive for November, 2008

Trusted Translations Goes Green

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

Trusted Translations, the leading producer of Spanish translation services in the U.S., has set the goal of reducing paper consumption by 90% in the next two years. Using the Environmental Working Group’s Ten Elements for Improving Environmental Performance and Compliance, Trusted Translations will implement policies to optimize and maximize the use of electronic means of internal and external communications by employing highly developed content management tools and secure high speed electronic delivery systems.

It is hoped that such policies will improve the corporate culture of Trusted Translations, as well as that of other companies in the industry. Also, by collaborating with NGOs, Trusted Translations aims to help raise environmental awareness amongst the Hispanic population.


Common Myths About Translating

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

Myth 1: Anyone bilingual person can be a good translator.

This is probably the most common misconception. It is indeed necessary to know more than one language to be a translator, but to be a good translator, the most important requirement is being a good writer. A professional translator needs a mastery of words, plus control over different writing styles and registers that he or she can employ for different types of projects, such as legal, medical, fiction, financial, etc.

Myth 2: You need a degree in translating or a foreign language  to be a professional translator.
This is not necessary to be able to work for the vast majority of translation agencies, and even less so for freelance work. In fact, translators often come from different fields, such as engineering, medicine or law, and then use their background knowledge to specialize in that type of translation.

Myth 3: Computer programs are better translators than humans.
Computers are great tools for translators, with their online glossaries, CAT tools, etc., but machine translations have a long way to go before they can produce something comparable in quality to a translation done by a professional translator. Check out the video below for a few examples of these funny translation mistakes.


How to Keep Your Mind from Growing Old

Friday, November 14th, 2008

We are constantly bombarded with advertisements promising us products for keeping our bodies looking young. But… What about our minds? Should we just assume that there’s no way to keep our minds getting old? Well, before you let this get you down, science has a bit of good news for bilingual people: it appears that having the possibility of communicating in two languages may help us fight “mental aging.” A recent psychological study discovered that compared to people who speak only one language, bilingual people have a greater ability to stay focused on a task in the midst of a constantly changing environment. This ability to stay focused, to find meaning in the madness and solve problems is known as “fluid intelligence,” and is one of the first brain functions to weaken as we get older. Researchers suggest that the ability to stay focused and concentrate on the task at hand while ignoring unnecessary information may be involve some of the same brain processes associated with using multiple languages.

The dictionary defines a bilingual person as someone who is able to communicate in more than one language, be it actively (oral and written) or passively (reading and listening comprehension). I have a preference for the definition that a very intelligent Engineer who spoke Spanish and English gave me several years ago: “People often ask those of us who speak two languages which language we think in. Being bilingual is first thinking, having an idea (or a question, answer or comment) shaped in your brain, and then deciding which language to say it in, because it’s all the same to us to use either one.”


How to Use Keyboard Shortcuts to Save Time

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

If you are still translating documents on notebook paper or a typewriter then I wish you all the luck in the world, but this post is not for you. Keyboard shortcuts may first appear to be more trouble than they’re worth, given that you can navigate through Microsoft Word and Trados just fine with the cursor. And while there are indeed lots of shortcuts that 99% of us will never need, anyone who spends a good amount of time translating or editing can most likely benefit from a few tips.

Microsoft Word
These are the five most basic shortcuts and the ones that I find myself using the most.

CTRL + X — Cut the selected text.
CTRL + C — Copy the selected text.
CTRL + V — Paste the selected text.
CTRL + Z — Undo last action.
CTRL + F — Open Find and Replace window

There are a number of shortcuts built into Trados, TagEditor and WinAlign as well. These are the ones I get lots of use out of in Trados.

CTRL + ALT + U — Fix document (see previous post Trados Fix Document Magic)
ALT + Home — Open/Get
ALT + End — Set/Close
ALT + Insert — Copy source.

I really recommend trying out the Trados keyboard shortcuts if you haven’t done so already. If anyone has got any other good shortcuts, feel free to post them!


Fatal Mistakes

Friday, November 7th, 2008

I always think about a professor from University who would insist– and rightly so– that it was imperative for us to check and recheck that we had correctly translated all the different figures correctly: prices, amounts, measurements, dates, etc. An incorrect sum or total in a contract, for example, could lead to a serious problem and even legal action. The wrong measurements on blueprints could make a building crumble or a bridge collapse… But an incorrect dosage on a medical prescription –stressed the professor– could be fatal. “Imagine that a patient is supposed to take one pill every four hours and is given four pills every hour.” And we would laugh at his example…
But the truth is– it’s not funny at all. A translation error in the instructions for implanting a knee prosthesis led to problems for 47 patients who underwent the surgical procedure in 2006-2007 in a hospital in Berlin. Apparently, the doctors implanted the prosthesis without first applying the necessary adhesive because “non-alterable [prosthesis] that requires adhesive” was translated as “prosthesis that does not require adhesive.”
In March of 2007, a similar error caused four deaths (and various complications in another nineteen patients) in a hospital in France. It appears that the patients suffered overexposure to X rays because the instructions for using the medical software were incorrectly translated.
Being in a hurry to finish the job and make the deadline is no excuse. Knowing that someone, perhaps an expert on the subject or a proofer, will go over it after the editor does not make it ok. Medical negligence can cause serious injury, and negligence on our part can do the same.


Election Mistranslations and Mistakes

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

After hearing about the now infamous Obama/Osama slips (John Ashcroft, Mitt Romney, etc.), plus the thousands of intentional “jokes” (Rush Limbaugh, Liz Trotta) on an almost weekly basis, one would think that the election and campaign mix-ups and mistakes would have run out by now. But a translated letter sent out to Spanish-speaking voters in Westchester, New York told potential voters that election day was November 9th instead of November 4th.

This unbelievable oversight was in the Spanish language section of a letter on voting procedure in Westchester, New York that was sent out by the Board of Elections.  This is the very same New York Board of Elections that sent out over four hundred absentee ballots with an option to vote for “Barack Osama” (instead of “Barack Obama”).  The letter with the incorrect election day is said to have been sent to nearly twenty-thousand people.

Will all of this have an effect on election results? Doubtful. Is this a lesson on the importance of proofing? Definitely.


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