A Six Question Primer on Machine Translation

April 19, 2012 by Acclaro
Category: Technology, Q&A, Machine Translation Services

Machine translation. It sounds simple, right? Rather than use a human translator, you put the burden on a computer. How hard could it be? 

That depends, of course, on how much you value making sense from what you’ve translated. And that depends on what — and how much — you’re translating in the first place.

Machine Translation (MT) is a powerful and evolving solution to the complexities companies face when they must quickly and inexpensively make large amounts of information available to international audiences.

In this six question Q&A we’ll give you the “nuts and bolts” (if you will) about the current state of MT and how it might help you save time and money on your next translation project.

Breaking News: We Have Our Heads In the Cloud

Acclaro has invested in cloud-computing technologies to help streamline internal and client-facing communications, especially around time-sensitive project information for translation services. Key benefits include cloud-based, centrally-located repositories for project information and query management, which facilitate communication and shorten project lifecycles. Read the press release on Acclaro and cloud-computing, or click below to read the full post.

Goodbye SOPA/PIPA, Hello ACTA

This January, largely due to grassroots organizing on social media platforms, U.S. internet users witnessed the demise of two proposed laws, SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act), and PIPA (PROTECT IP Act). These bills were both designed to expand the power of U.S. law enforcement to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property...and were met with resistance by U.S. internet users from coast to coast. If, like millions of others, you celebrated the defeat of SOPA/PIPA, you may want to put a cork in that champagne. It turns out there’s a much more far reaching agreement, called ACTA. International in scope, it may affect what your business is able to do (or not do) online.

Flash, Air, and Mobile Application Localization

December 27, 2011 by Jon Ritzdorf
Category: Technology, Mobile, Localization

Flash Player will soon undergo a radical transformation for mobile apps, according to an article in Gizmodo. As the driving force behind video-dominant social media sites like YouTube, Flash was once the stalwart, must-code application for interactive media, but will soon morph into Adobe’s newest project: AIR, which will take full advantage of the rich media functions of HTML5. Acclaro’s Globalization Consultant, Jon Ritzdorf, explains what this could mean for the world of mobile app localization.

Acing Your Global App Launch

November 17, 2011 by Acclaro
Category: Technology, Mobile

A localized mobile application is a great way to reach your global customers. However, it's not always as simple a process as making sure your app's language matches that of your user's mobile device or smartphone. There are some things to think about on the development side, which we've neatly summed up in our full newsletter article from earlier this year.

Content Management Systems and Website Localization

November 9, 2011 by Acclaro
Category: Website Translation Services, Technology

If you work with a content management system (CMS), such as Drupal, Sharepoint, Joomla, or Wordpress, and are considering localizing the website that lives inside of it, you may wonder how well it will play with your languages. Or, if you're trying to find the right CMS that supports the localization process, you'll need to ask a few questions, such as:  Will the text display correctly? Will the CMS be able to keep language content separate? Not all CMSs handle things the same way, so it's best to figure out the answers before you start the localization process and/or before move to a new CMS. Read a quick review of the basic questions you need to ask, or read our full article on how to choose the best CMS for your localization needs.

Our Top Tips For Jumping Into Chinese Social Media


If you’re thinking about testing—or even diving into—the waters of the rapidly growing Chinese social media market, now is the time to start doing your research. With more than 400 million Internet users, most of them young, educated, and savvy about games and web socializing, there’s ample opportunity for well-prepared businesses to succeed.

We’ve got a few ideas to help you get familiar with Chinese online channels as you start out, and expand into this lucrative market in a way that’s culturally appropriate. More detail can be found in our full newsletter article.

Translation Memory Never Forgets


Conventional wisdom has it that the best, highest-quality translation method is human translation and editing (as opposed to a rules- or statistics-based machine translation tool, à la Google Translate). Certainly when style and nuanced meaning are important, there’s really nothing that takes the place of the human mind for intelligent, effective, accurate localization. But there’s also a great tool that aids our linguists during translation, adding the power and speed of computers to the fluidity and contextual smarts of the human cerebellum.

That tool is translation memory, or TM, and it helps us create better consistency both within and across projects for our clients. Translation memory can also lower costs and speed up timelines for greater efficiency.

Bing and Baidu team up for Chinese web searches

Baidu mugDue to the prevalence of English-language searches in China, a unique partnership has formed between the Chinese search giant Baidu and the American "decision engine" Bing. Baidu users searching for English terms will see a selection of English search results alongside Chinese results in their browsers, providing access to an additional layer of information.

Bilingual search results, still a relatively new technology, show how the quest for information on a global scale overcomes regional language barriers...or perhaps caters to an increasingly polylingual group of internet users who are comfortable searching in one or more languages.

Spreading Slang Via Social Media

August 3, 2011 by Lauren Kerr
Category: Technology, "Spot" on Language

social media mapWe all remember the way new slang, idioms, and hand gestures rapidly spread from kid to kid through high school. But that’s nothing compared to how quickly social media transmits regional slang and unique words and spellings both within common languages and around the globe.

During most of human history, new words and idioms traveled slowly from different regions of a country, and entered common usage at the same rate. The same stately pace applied to words borrowed from foreign languages.

Social media platforms like Facebook, Orkut (Facebook’s main rival in Brazil), Foursquare, and perhaps most importantly, Twitter have changed all that.

Is Machine Translation Right For You?

Language is a fluid and dynamic means of communication. Historically, translation has been best performed by human beings who can accurately adapt and express this fluidity and dynamism in the face of the logical contradictions and irregularities that most languages present. However, in recent years, “machine translation” (or MT) has started to come into its own, as its once-stoic technology – the realm of 0s and 1s – catches up to human adaptability.

Ora Solomon, vice president of sales and operations at Acclaro, describes how machine translation can complement human translation in an article for Marketing Profs:

1. Human Translation


A professional linguist (most often, an in-country native speaker) reviews your project and, using guidelines agreed on beforehand, translates it to the language you require. The goal is to speak to your audience in the most natural, effective way. You can expect human translations to be free of idiomatic errors and to flow naturally and fluently.

Learning A Language On The Go

July 21, 2011 by Acclaro
Category: Technology, Mobile, International Business

Mobile Language Apps for the Very Mobile Traveler

Calling all business travelers and international frequent flyers!  Don’t have time to study your foreign-language phrase book or get to a class before you take off? These days, it’s easy to take along a plane app iconlanguage-learning app and hone your language skills while you’re on the go.

In most languages, a basic vocabulary of just about 100 words will get you by quite nicely – and that’s a very doable goal that a mobile language app can help you reach.

Whether you just want to learn to say hello and order a meal in Norwegian, ask directions to the museum in Dutch, or buy some souvenirs in Japanese, there are loads of apps (both paid and gratis) for your smart phone or your laptop. Right here we’re going to suggest a few free mobile apps that can help you learn to speak up in almost any language. 

1. Byki – For multiple destinations and simple phrases
Quick, essential phrases in Danish, Dutch, French, German, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and Taglog are at your fingertips with this app. In three easy steps, you can master everyday cordialities that will take you across Europe and Asia. Byki also offers a database of vocabulary around themes. Want to know how to order a beer in every country you visit? This is the app for you.

Visions of Alexandria: The Universal Library, Then and Now

June 17, 2011 by Garner Gollatz
Category: Technology, Culture

If scholars, linguists and book lovers could travel through time, one of their first destinations would be the Royal Library of Alexandria, Egypt. In the time of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra, this legendary center of learning was reputed to be a universal library, gathering what was then all the world's Royal Library of Alexandriaknowledge in a single place.

The original Library of Alexandria has long since vanished. The ideal it represents, however, continues to inspire visionaries in the digital age. Today, tourists and scholars can find a similar experience at sites such as Egypt's new Biblioteca Alexandrina, while digital pioneers are coming closer than ever to creating a true universal library online.

The First Universal Library

The original Library of Alexandria, founded by Egypt's King Ptolemy II in the 2nd century B.C., was said to contain hundreds of thousands of scrolls from throughout the ancient world, written in Greek and many other languages. For centuries afterward, Ptolemy’s creation helped make Egypt an active hub of scholarship and education.

The Library's exact fate remains a mystery. Historians have blamed its destruction on Julius Caesar, the Emperor Aurelian, religious strife in the late Roman Empire and invading Arab armies. What is certain is that its disappearance marked the end of ancient Egypt’s intellectual preeminence. The dream of a universal library went into eclipse for much of the next 2000 years.

YouTube Adds 4 New Languages

September 7, 2010 by Acclaro
Category: Website Translation Services, Multimedia, Technology

YouTube, which already supported two dozen languages, has added four new languages (Croatian, Filipino, Serbian and Slovak) to its lineup, Wired reported last week. The supported languages are supplemented by a script translator that allows viewers to see machine-translated video captions in over 50 languages.

The Google-owned video sharing site was English-only until as late as 2007, when it expanded to Europe, Brazil and Japan, adding a slew of languages (image courtesy of Wired):

youtube's languages

YouTube apparently intends to continue this global expansion trend, hoping to add as many as 12 more localized versions by the end of 2010. (Hebrew, which didn't make the cut this time around because of the complication of its bidirectional script, might get another chance.)

Thanks, Google: Our Favorite Foreign TV Shows, Brought Closer

June 9, 2010 by Acclaro
Category: Technology, Culture

TV remote controlMany expatriates and repatriated Americans find themselves watching their favorite TV show on their computer screen or phone simply because the show isn’t broadcast in the States. Do you love the wildly popular “East Enders” from the UK, “Slovakia’s Next Top Supermodel”, or Hong Kong’s “Super Trio Game Master”? More than likely you can’t watch them on your TV screen and have to resort to the shows’ website or YouTube videos.

Enter GoogleTV, which allows you to watch web content on your TV. While this may not seem revolutionary — going from your laptop or phone screen to your TV screen — just think about how the world just opened up to you on a big screen, from your couch. At a click of the remote, you can delve into the popular culture of nearly any country on the planet. (See demo.)

Want to brush up on a language and can’t afford language classes or a plane ticket? Sit on the couch and watch and listen to some programs in that language. Want to learn how to play cricket, yet live 100 miles from the closest cricket club (not to mention that you don’t readily have access to a crispy clean, all-white cricket uniform)? Turn on the TV and learn how to play from the best in the world.

4 Twitter Translation Tools

April 28, 2010 by Ana Yoerg
Category: Technology, Mobile

twitter italianTwitter has already "taken over" the U.S., transcending demographic and geographic boundaries to reach nearly everyone in the country. Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration. But it certainly has grown since its humble beginnings as a sketch on Jack Dorsey's notepad.

Now not only is the Twitter interface in six languages — English, Japanese, and FIGS (French, Italian, German, and Spanish) — but it is now becoming so international that tweets themselves are in multiple languages. In fact, 6 in 10 registered accounts now come from outside of the U.S., says the San Francisco-based company.

Language and Culture Apps for iPad

April 13, 2010 by Stephanie Engelsen
Category: Multimedia, Technology, Mobile

ipadThe Apple iPad is here. On launch day April 3, 2010, consumers bought a reported 300,000 of these color, touch-screen tablets. It’s still to be determined if it will revolutionize how people read a newspaper or watch a film — but what I really want to know is if it can teach you French.

One of the hypes about the iPad was all the apps that were going to be created for it — mobile apps on steroids. Productivity! Lifestyle! Light saber duels! Nearly 4,000 iPad apps and counting….

SuperPower Nation Day

March 19, 2010 by Ana Yoerg
Category: Crowdsourcing, Technology

twitter snapshot superpower nation dayThis week Twitter was ablaze with notifications about SuperPower Nation Day. When I first saw it, to be honest, I was completely confused. SuperWhat?

Turns out, it was a little experiment run by the BBC, a UK-based news organization, as part of its series of programs, online reports and events that examine the "super powers" of the internet.

How it worked: The BBC set up a special website to host comments and responses from people around the world, in their native language.

Google's machine translation software was used to translate each text into six different languages: English, Arabic, Chinese, Portuguese, Persian, Indonesian and Spanish.

At the same time, representatives of the BBC's language services did live translations for those who called in by phone or attended the physical event. (View the complete transcript.)

Machine Translation is Changing the Game, Not Ending It

As a translation business owner, I come across a lot of industry colleagues who fear Google's machine translation initiative.

It's a natural, but unfounded, response.

kriz translation quoteOur business thrives on cross-border commerce. A great translation tool — whether Google’s or another — will lower the barrier to communication across borders. This should be good for individuals and business while preserving language diversity as a key ingredient to multiculturalism.

Machine translation tools today can inexpensively produce draft translations that (while often inaccurate and sometimes humorous) are useful for personal and even business communication.

Still, the value that B2B translation service firms provide to businesses goes well beyond this basic draft-quality output. Companies hire translation professionals for many reasons that will not go away anytime soon.

Some examples include:

  • Marketing communications where brands are at stake will require refined, nuanced translations.
  • Content where misunderstandings or mistranslations would be costly require clear and accurate human translations.
  • Proprietary and confidential content where ownership is critical is not suited for the Google site in particular — based on my (perhaps erroneous) understanding that they can reuse this content.

Arabic-English Translation Website Aims for Peace

meedan logoMeedan, a new website launched last month, will attempt to cultivate citizen diplomacy between the Middle East and the West by eliminating the language barrier, reports Wired.

Meedan, which aptly means "gathering place" or "town hall" in Arabic, is a project of a five-person non-profit, funded with grants from large foundations (e.g., Ford, MacArthur, Rockefeller, Cisco).

Visitors to the site post stories and comments on featured news stories in English or Arabic, and their text is automatically translated into the other language. Translation "status" is always clear, and Meedan also publishes the full history of each translation to the public, similar to Wikipedia.

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Smart, fun and useful. Acclaro shares news and tips on translation, localization, language, global business and culture.


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