Watch, Listen: embracing audio visual communication

19 09 2017

No form of communication is more natural than watching and listening to another human being explain something. These days, millions of people seek videos online to display products they are might purchase or to offer support for those they own. These videos will most likely include your company’s products whether or not your company created them.

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The international commerce conversation is shifting from a focus on text generated by company marketing specialists, to one with more interactive elements at its core: direct customer feedback about what is and is not desirable, unadorned facts shared on social media and customer-generated videos about what your product is, and your own professional multimedia pieces.

Translation industry analysts expect audiovisual translation (AVT) to grow at four times the rate of other industry segments in the coming years. AVT includes subtitling, dubbing, voiceover, closed captioning, apps and video games. Almost 5 billion videos are watched on YouTube daily, and 80% of those are outside the U.S. The market trend is clear. In addition to customer desires for audiovisual communication, some governments have increased regulatory requirements for closed captioning and subtitling.

The challenge to company leadership is to think of the core message for their marketing as the pure idea – not the verbal texts. Translating that core idea directly into multimedia forms (including but not limited to text) speeds up and streamlines the process of reaching your global customers. In the words of Jim Compton: “text and language are just characteristics, or dimensions of content’s form.”*

This paradigm shift involves thinking about your product and the marketing and sale of it in global terms from the very beginning. Traditionally, companies have thought of their own nation’s population as their ‘first’ market, with ‘foreign’ markets as potential customers down the line. But today so many networks of commerce aren’t limited by the same, old geopolitical or even linguistic boundaries. The question becomes how to describe your product to anyone in the world in a form more pure and immediate than written words.

Improved audio visual technology continues to make this easier and more cost-effective. There are obvious obstacles in localizing an online video tutorial for use of your product, for instance. As an example, it takes 30 minutes to engineer one minute of audiovisual from one language to another. Voice actors are also expensive. But already software exists that can use twenty minutes of a recorded voice, break it down into the smallest units of sound, and reconstruct new sentences from those – sentences that include words the original voice never spoke.*

The exciting options available in the realm of audiovisual localization are ever increasing. For the expertise you need in order to localize using AV concepts and technology, look to Skrivanek. Our linguistic experts will help you translate your core messages into every language, format, platform, and medium you require.

*Multilingual, Sound and Vision, Jim Compton, September 2017

**Project VoCo – Multilingual, AudioVisual Localization, Kamil Juljanski, September 2017.

 

 

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Neural Machine Translation: a Little More Like Human Thought

24 08 2017

Machine Translation (MT) has been with us for several decades. The first effective form developed was Rule-Based MT (RBMT), initiated in the 1950’s. RBMT became obsolete when Statistical MT (SMT) was refined in the 1990s, and one form of SMT – Phrase-Based MT – still defines major online translation services.

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Since 2014, Neural Machine Translation (NMT) has moved into the language services arena, opening the door for a potential paradigm shift. This is because the way NMT operates is fundamentally different, so the form it will take as it is used and evolves is not easy to predict. It’s described as “mysterious” in a Systran blog that attempts to breakdown in detail how it works,* and part of the reason it is so complex and difficult to explain is because the NMT seeks patterns on its own without being told exactly what to look for, and in the layers of processing its hard to detect how it makes its decisions.

SMT basically works by comparing source text ‘n-grams’ – 6-word groupings of words – to target language match possibilities. NMT, on the other hand, builds its data and methods through ‘deep learning’ processes which, as NMT’s name indicates, somewhat resemble the biological neural networks of animal brains. Rather than following task-specific programming, NMT systems approach problems by seeking connections from examples.

NMT systems run on Graphical Processing Units (GPUs), which are powerful and require a fraction of the memory that the Central Processing Units (CPUs) that SMT need. However, the training that the systems require is “computationally expensive,” Google says.**

Other drawbacks are that NMT doesn’t handle rare words well and this has hindered its efficiency. But with isolated, simple sentences, Google’s NMT “reduces translation errors by an average of 60% compared to Google’s phrase-based production system,” according to a Google abstract.**

Four NMT systems are currently available: Google translate, Microsoft Translator, Systran Pure Neural Machine Translation, and an open source NMT called OpenNMT from the Harvard NLP group. As the more sophisticated MT systems that Language Service Providers utilize incorporate NMT, you can be sure that Skrivanek will keep you informed of any new capabilities the technology might make available to you.

*blog.systransoft.com: How does Neural Machine Translation work? October 17, 2016

**2016 Google abstract





Greeting Chinese Travelers in Their Own Language

9 08 2017

The number of Chinese travelers visiting destinations around the world is rapidly increasing. And according to a recent survey*, when they travel, they are willing to pay for quality. Chinese visitors to the US, for instance, spend an average of $7200 USD per person.

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Quality is not the only thing Chinese tourists want: they prefer that language services be available on-site at their places of lodging, and the majority of hotels don’t have them, especially in the US. The survey showed that only 18% of hotels surveyed globally offer travel and tourism guides in Chinese and only 21% plan to offer it in the next 12 months. Meanwhile, only 17% of hotels polled also offer in-house Mandarin-speaking staff with about that same amount planning to offer the service in the coming year.

This is the current state of things in the hospitality industry, in spite of the fact that for 9% of Chinese tourists having travel and tourism guides available in Chinese is the single most important service they expect from their hotels, while 7% mentioned a Chinese language hotel website as an essential service. In-house Mandarin-speaking staff and Chinese language travel and tourism guides are also top desires.

Accommodation of Chinese tourists varies globally of course. Mandarin-speaking staff is offered by 23% of APAC hoteliers, compared to 5% in Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), 1% in the US, and 11% in Latin America. In 2015 and 2016, Japan hosted more travelers from China than from anywhere else.

With growth of Chinese visitors to the US expected to nearly double in the next few years – from 2.59 million visitors in 2015 to 5.72 million by 2021** — enormous opportunity awaits the hotelier committed to providing Chinese language materials and services. Chinese affluence and the easing of visa restrictions in many countries has opened up the world to Chinese tourists, and the flow of travelers from that part of the world seems bound to continue to grow.

Hoteliers and other hospitality industry businesses might do well to follow the example of enterprises such as the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown (Washington DC area) that offers Chinese language television and newspapers, with plans to introduce more traditional Chinese dishes on its menus. As part of its China 2020 Strategic Plan, Australia is instituting numerous initiatives, from giant video ads in Beijing subway stations, to the facilitation of easier payment methods for Chinese tourists.

Numbers indicate that now is the time to incorporate a response to this trend into your business plan. And whatever ideas you generate for connecting with Chinese visitors, Skrivanek will be able to create exactly the texts you need to ensure that they work well.

 

*Chinese International Travel Monitor 2017 by hotels.com, IPSOS research marketing firm

**Statista





Consider taking an interpreter when meeting with French business partners

25 07 2017

Europe’s second largest economy offers a number of opportunities. The key to a good relationship with French partners involves having a clear understanding of French culture and etiquette, which are distinctly different from those in the U.S. The French believe that the business relationships you develop are more important than the contracts, so think in the long-term about building partnerships.  

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To start with, remember: you’ll get furthest with some knowledge of French.

The traditional belief that the French often do not bother with English and other foreign languages is not far from the truth. In large and multinational companies, the situation is better, but it is still recommended to learn at least a few basic phrases in French. ‘Bonjour’ and ‘Enchanté’ (it’s nice to meet you) are almost essential. To a certain extent the emphasis on using their own language is due to national pride. The French have a deep patriotism. Although it is a very diverse country in which many different cultures live, they tend to have a reserved approach toward foreigners. If you are in doubt about a situation, it might be best to use interpreters’ services.

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French society is very hierarchic, and this also has an effect on business relationships. Therefore, always be careful to ensure that your French business partner communicates with someone in a correlating position in your company. Respect toward a company’s management is also shown through gestures such as standing up when superiors enter the room, or through acknowledging their arrival, at the least.

There is a general emphasis on education and good morals. In discussions with you, French business partners may debate about the most wide-ranging topics and in the process assess your intellectual abilities. French men are gentlemen based on principle, treat women with courtesy, and adhere to ethical standards. Of course, there is also an emphasis on elegant fashion and aesthetics in general. For instance, the French consider the quality of their environment, wherever they are, to be very important. So, when choosing a location for lunch or dinner, consider not only the quality of the food and a good address, but also the restaurant’s interior design and ambiance.

First – and lasting — impressions

The French prefer personal interaction, so initial contact should be made by telephone, rather than e-mail. Arrive at meetings on time (although the French are comfortable with slight delays), shake your business partner’s hand, and start the meeting with casual conversation. The French do not get right down to the heart of the matter, and this is in part because they are seeking to understand you as an individual. If you seem disinterested in debating the issues involved with your potential deal, they can consider that a sign of arrogance.

The French pay close attention to detail, so you can expect a lot of added questions. It will be a major advantage to have a visual presentation prepared, such as a PowerPoint presentation, and descriptions in French will aid your cause. The French are generally conservative when it comes to body language.

When defending their own interests, the French know how to be tough, and when negotiating, they are suspicious of supposed “win-win” deals. They are not generally fond of risk, and prefer arrangements that leave room for adjustment and adaptation over time.

During negotiations, it is acceptable and appropriate to take detailed notes so that you will be able to ensure that everything makes sense. French meetings tend to be more creative than the average American business meeting. It can seem as if they are rudely interrupting you in conversation, but this is a customary French mode of expressing interest in the topic. It’s probably a good idea to pay close attention to their suggestions, without allowing them to throw off your focus. For important negotiations, it is a good idea to sign a written document, such as a memorandum. In fact, with the French oral agreements don’t mean much, so if you’re serious, get it in writing.

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“Legalese” is Confusing Enough in One’s Native Language

26 06 2017

The need for cross-border litigation increases annually as global trade does, and the discovery process of a foreign entity inevitably requires translation that is not simple or cheap. Thousands of pages of documents of all kinds in multiple languages might need to be reviewed to extract the information you need. According to an article in Multilingual (June 2017), the cost of the discovery process in litigation is “growing out of proportion to the benefits gained.”

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In fact, language barriers are a main obstacle preventing people, companies and organizations from acting to defend their rights internationally. In order to proceed when legal action is necessary and the costs of time and money are overwhelming, it’s tempting to ask a bilingual associate or employee, or even the client involved, to translate the relevant texts. But authorities in the countries involved will often refuse to even accept a document that is not translated well.

There are some tips to keep in mind that can make an overseas discovery and legal case more manageable:

  1. Use Machine Translation software strategically as a first step. Making a list of key words and concepts to search for and translate enables you to scour foreign language documents for passages of text that target the matter at hand. Putting those documents or passages into the hands of professional language service providers for precise translations is the next step.
  2. Right from the start, be very clear on which documents require summary translations, and which require certified translations (by human professionals). Subject matter experts are invaluable.
  3. Ensure that all involved parties understand “hold” policies for data so that nothing is compromised or lost. This means that the translations for your hold policies must be extremely clear and succinct.
  4. Be aware of which types of documents in which countries are actually “discoverable.” In the United States, for instance, privacy policies are much looser; it can be a surprise to find that in Germany or elsewhere you do not have a legal right to as much information.
  5. Moving forward, participation in global compliance programs and translation of all of your company’s basic texts into multiple languages, are two ways to show good intentions of transparency and inclusion, and to develop long-term policies that support any future legal needs.

Beyond the page, depositions may be required for the court presentation of your legal matter. Recorded legal statements intended for use as evidence will require skilled interpreters. Skrivanek has a history of over two decades of navigating the legal language translation and interpreting needs of international customers. We are ready to help you defend your rights anywhere in the world.





A New Language for Slavs from Croatia to Ukraine

6 06 2017

It’s an ancient human dream: the creation of a universal language that every person can speak and understand, regardless of their native tongue or country of origin. Universal languages, such as Esperanto, have attempted to fulfill that dream, and on a smaller scale, individual languages have united multiple dialects within their language into an “official” language that serves the common good.

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For several centuries attempts have been made to create a common language for Slavic speakers. In 1864, the author of one such “Pan-Slavic language project”* questioned why other European tongues – Greek, French, Italian, German, English – contain multiple dialects and yet manage to share a unified literary language, while Slavic dialects are incomprehensible to one another, with no shared mode of communication.

Now another inter-Slavic language has been developed and was presented June 1 of this year. Total Croatia News reports that Czech linguist Vojtech Merunka and Croatian anthropologist Emil Hersak have collaborated in order to help simplify communication between Slavic speakers of different origins, and to improve the quality of machine translation.

Because English is currently the only intermediary language in Google’s online translation system, for instance, puzzling word offerings can arise when translating from one Slavic language to another. Here’s an example: with English as the connecting Google tool, the Croatian word “medvjed” (the noun, “bear”) ends up as “endure” in Polish and “carry” in Russian, because these are both English verbs that are synonyms with the English verb “to bear.”

Linguist Merunka says that the new Slavic grammar he and Hersak have designed is based entirely on the structure of Slavic languages and is simple enough that a speaker of one Slavic language could master it in a month, while a speaker of two Slavic languages would understand it right away. The vocabulary is also derived from Slavic roots, without artificial elements.

While historical efforts to unify Slavs through a Pan-Slavic language have sometimes been driven by cultural and political convictions that the Slavic people are all part of a single Slavic nation and their language should reflect that, Vojtech Merunka’s aspirations are not politically driven. It’s a practical matter of facilitating and streamlining connection among people whose languages have so much in common anyway, especially as globalization relentlessly forges ahead.

Skrivanek specializes in Slavic language translation and localization, and you may rest assured that we are up-to-date on the presence of any and all new languages in the region.

*Matija Majar-Ziljski (1809-1892), Wikipedia





The Publications Office of the European Union awards a major project to Skrivanek and Jouve

11 05 2017

Paris, 9 May 2017: Jouve and Skrivanek win a new tender from the Publications Office of the European Union (http://publications.europa.eu) and will oversee the implementation of infrastructure for processing notices published in the Supplement to the Official Journal.

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This strategic project for the Publications Office of the European Union in view of the importance of the information being processed involved relying on a partner that could guarantee first-rate quality of service. Every day, the Supplement to the Official Journal of the European Union publishes public tenders issued by the countries of the European Union whose publication times are strictly prescribed.

In this context, Jouve and Skrivanek have been selected because of their capacity to offer a comprehensive solution (processing and translation of notices in all the languages of the countries of the European Union). To do this, the two partners have created a consortium bringing together around one hundred colleagues fully dedicated to managing the project.

The Jouve and Skrivanek teams will offer a high-availability platform allowing real-time operational monitoring of the notices published each day in the Supplement to the Official Journal.

At the operational level, Jouve will be responsible for reading, analysing and monitoring more than 500,000 notices per year (contract notice, award notice, etc.). Production will take place on a just-in-time basis in compliance with the publication periods legally prescribed in the texts of the EU, which range from 5 to 12 days.

Skrivanek will take care of translations of all notices that need to be fully or partially translated. Those are in principle notices from the EU institutions, bodies and agencies.  Skrivanek will handle translations from all and into all official languages of the EU.

In selecting the Jouve and Skrivanek bid, the Publications Office of the European Union can therefore rely on the complementary expertise of the two partners who are well-known for their ability to manage complex, multilingual document flows.

About Jouve: An expert in business data and a specialist in new technologies, Jouve is the indispensable partner for your digital transformation. Jouve realises the value in your most complex data, optimises your business processes and creates new digital experiences. Whatever scope you have in mind, our 2000 colleagues will assist you in your most ambitious projects and enhance your agility and your competitiveness in the digital era.

About Skrivanek: As one of the top 50 comprehensive languages service companies in the world, Skrivanek maintains a network of more than 45 offices in 17 countries throughout Europe, Asia, and the Americas, providing the highest quality translation and localization in over 100 languages. ISO 9001:2008 and EN 17100:2015 certification guarantees that processes and results have been tested and proven to meet and exceed industry standards.

Jouve press contact – Christèle Blay – Corporate Communications Manager – Tel.: + 33 1 44 76 54 43 / cblay@jouve.fr

Skrivanek press contact – Jaroslava Ouzka – Global Sales Manager – Tel.: +420 605 235 691 / jaroslava.ouzka@skrivanek.net