Germany’s Dedication to Data Privacy

6 02 2017

Germany is working toward being the most secure digital data site in the world. But as the world’s citizens knit together in networks that aren’t confined within geopolitical borders, the governments of individual countries with strong values face complex legal and trade-related issues when trying to assert them.

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A serious emphasis on privacy is embedded in German law, and even more deeply ingrained in German culture. The 1949 German constitution created after WWII forbids spying on German citizens, and challenges to the fierce protection of privacy tend to spark quick, wary references to the past. The Federal Data Protection Act was established in 1990, and has continued to be strengthened since then.

Digital Society, in Berlin, is a group of 35 industry specialists (such as copyright lawyers, cryptography professors and journalists) formed in 2010 to keep the public educated about data privacy issues, and to propose legislation to the German parliament. “In Germany,” said Markus Beckedahl, one of Digital Society’s founders, “privacy is a civil right, and in the United States, it’s an option.” Edward Snowden’s 2013 revelations about the US data collection of German citizens’ phone conversations by the NSA dominated German media for a while, and damaged German-American relations.

But pressures from the EU and international giants like Google and Amazon, push data-sharing agreements that prioritize corporate profits and consumer convenience, as well as fears, such as that of terrorism. Many countries are building policy around such concerns, but Germany would like to avoid capitulation to compromised security standards, even as it retains leadership as an economic power.

A recent survey by auditor KPMG and the German digital trade association, Bitkom, shows that 83% of German companies expect their cloud provider to retain its data centers in Germany, while 74% want them to at least be located somewhere in the EU. This is not a perspective that supports such strategies as the EU plan to create the Digital Single Market (DSM), which would be a unified EU digital market that eliminates regulatory barriers for online services and goods.

Nor does this attitude embrace the EU-US Privacy Shield agreement that went into effect in July of 2016. That agreement gives companies the legal right to transfer data from the EU to the US, but with required US Department of Commerce reviews. Resistance continues, however, although one compromise that seems to be effective as practiced by companies such as Microsoft, is to assign “data trustees” within Germany, no matter where the data is physically stored or what levels of encryption it has undergone.

Awareness of this highly sensitive issue is important to keep in mind when dealing with German clients, maintaining respect for boundaries you may not be accustomed to dealing with. Skrivanek Group is well acquainted with all the relevant subtleties of the German culture and language, as well as the country’s laws, including the new and volatile area of cyber-law.

 J. McShulskis

 

 





Will Brexit Weaken the Presence of English in Europe?

18 07 2016

The European Union currently has 24 official languages, one language chosen by each of the 28 member countries. All enjoy equal status, a founding belief being that every citizen has a right to know what is going on in their name and to play an active part if they wish to.

English was chosen by just one country: the United Kingdom. Ireland chose Gaelic, and Malta chose Maltese, in spite of the fact that English is in everyday use in both of those countries. The existing structure of the EU dictates that if the UK leaves the EU, so does English as a member language.

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One of the practical consequences of that for the UK and other English-speaking nations that trade with the EU, would be that EU documents would not be produced in English by the internal EU translation entity, DG Translation. All translation would have to be done by the foreign, English-speaking companies or governments, at their own expense. Another consequence is that English is currently one of the three EU “working languages” used to apply for EU Patents, among many other processes, giving English-speaking researchers and corporations an edge over competitors who don’t work in English, French or German (the other two working languages), and that advantage would be lost.

The three working languages account for about 70 percent of material that is translated in the EU, according to Europa.eu, the EU’s official website. The other 30 percent is comprised of legislation and major policy documents, which are translated into all 24 official languages.

What is the linguistic future of the EU? As the UK begins to execute its EU departure, opinions vary as to whether English might be kept on as a working language, and there are strong comments from EU commissioners both for and against. The process could take up to seven years, European Council President Donald Tusk has warned, and the question of language is only one of many – but it’s one that cuts deeply into the emotions of Europeans all over the map.

Skrivanek has been providing translation services to the European Commission, Translation Centre for the Bodies of EU, European Parliament etc. since 2003, and in that time has delivered over 1,000,000 pages in 14 languages, including English, covering a wide range of subject matter. We will be watching developments closely, and our clients both commercial and institutional can rest assured that we will track changes and new requirements in order to provide exactly what is needed.

J. McShulskis





Busting “Ghost” Translators

19 06 2015

Imagine that you need money, don’t care how you get it, and you conceive of a crime that you can execute without being seen or shot at. Not only that, the victim might possibly never realize they have been robbed, and even if they do, you will face no negative consequences.

This is the dirty dream job of CV scammers.

Ghost_TranslatorsIn the translation industry, Curricula Vitae (CVs) of legitimate freelance translators are lifted from translation industry websites and attached to made-up names and contact information with astonishing frequency these days. Global Language Service Providers (LSPs) like Prague-based Skrivanek Translation Services receive dozens of fake CVs daily, forcing them to spend a considerable amount of time sorting the good from the bad.

“Not all translation agencies dedicate the resources that we do to directly testing all of our translators before assigning them jobs,” says Michal Kufhaber, Skrivanek’s Global Production Manager. “Unfortunately, many choose translators based only on good CVs.”

The rock-bottom low rates that scammers frequently offer can be persuasive, especially when they’re accompanied by CVs testifying to valuable (sometimes incredible) experience. When one of the fakes slips past the filters and is hired, delivering an unusable translation doesn’t stop the scammer from demanding pay through a chain of connections that makes them hard to track down. And when the thief gets really lucky, payment is issued before the shoddy translation is seen for what it is.

There are some consistent clues that tip off the wary LSP. Illegitimate CVs often contain physical addresses that don’t exist. They always use email addresses with free servers like Gmail and Hotmail, and they don’t provide working phone numbers. The CV will often look cut and pasted, containing a variety of fonts, for instance. The recipient shows up as “undisclosed recipients,” meaning that the scammer is flooding the market in search of a nibble.

While scammers are still working the field, they have seriously riled their victim-base. Translators are an intelligent group who rely on their reputations and on long-distance connections to clients and work – they aren’t taking this crooked trend lightly. Individuals, forums and websites have dedicated themselves to the detection and public unveiling of the CV thieves. One example is the Translator Scammers Directory, which offers shared information from a collective of scam victims. Their slogan is, “They steal your CV, your Work and your Money … We make their lives a living hell.”

Their advice? Their website suggests publicly exposing the ghost translators in every way you can think of and creating filtering systems for your hiring procedures.* Experienced global LSPs often have well-established routines of doing these very things, as you can see for instance in Skrivanek’s thorough Recruitment Process for new translators.

So who are these CV thieves? Interestingly, according to Translator Scammers Directory, nearly all can be traced to Palestine, where one in six people in the West Bank and 1 in 2 of those in Gaza were unemployed at the end of 2014.** Small percentages of them are from Asian and Eastern European countries.

All of the victims are people with years of study and experience that these syndicates of desperate “ghosts” electronically snatch to generate income for themselves. In our global online village, where troubled neighborhoods share a border in cyberspace with your desktop, diligence and creative solutions are required to protect your assets.

J. McShulskis

*Check http://www.translators-scammers.com for useful tips, scammer lists, and extensive other information.
**Worldbank.org





New ISO Standard for Translation Services in Place

26 05 2015

ISO 17100:2015 was published on May 1, 2015, and the content looks a lot like its predecessor, EN 15038:2006.

ISO 17100The core of the standard is established via definitions of various translation processes: translation, revision, review, proofreading, and final verification are delineated, as they were in EN 15038. Advancing slightly beyond EN 15038, ISO 17100 also requires routine practices for handling client feedback. Unfortunately there is no attempt to set quality metrics: a missed chance, according to some, as quality standards would strongly support translation industry excellence.

Another criticism of the new standard is that it does not address such influential new industry elements as crowdsourcing, Agile/on-demand and cloud functions, linguistic QA methodologies, Machine Translation (MT) and post-editing for MT. A GALA blog references data* predicting that the global machine translation market will grow nearly 25% by 2019; and yet the ISO 17100:2015 abstract specifies that “the use of raw output from machine translation plus post-editing” is outside of its scope. Happily, the upcoming ISO 18587 is intended to deal with MT and related issues; it is currently “under development” with no release date projected yet.

ISO standards are intended to provide transparency within a recognized set of controls from start to finish for all parties to any translation job, thus guaranteeing high quality and creating trust. Language Service Providers (LSPs) will have the option to: declare conformity with the standards without any external review, register without any external review, or meet specifications and be certified by accredited certifiers.

Skrivanek Group is among those LSPs who are already in compliance with 17100 specifications, and will achieve certification promptly.

  J. McShulskis

*from researchandmarkets.com





QA Tools Enable Unparalleled Accuracy

25 02 2015

Before translation agencies present final drafts to their clients, Quality Assurance (QA) tasks are performed – some by human beings alone, some by humans with the assistance of QA software.

Quality Assurance ToolsActivities such as proofreading and double-checking terminology with clients are QA methods that contribute to the linguistic excellence of the final draft and cannot be replaced by automation. But there are numerous problems that QA software is adept at highlighting for translators, eliminating hours and hours of human scanning and comparison, and improving accuracy where tedium can lead to errors.

The most commonly used QA tools have varying capabilities, but features often include the detection of:

  • inconsistently translated phrases
  • word/phrase translations that don’t match up with glossary definitions
  • untranslatable words or phrases
  • missing segments
  • punctuation and spacing differences
  • numbers and symbols that don’t match-up

The following QA tools are some of the more common: ApSIC Xbench (which is free), Wordfast Quality Check feature, D.O.G. ErrorSpy, Verifika, Yamagata QA Distiller, and SDL Trados Terminology Verifier and QA Checker. These vary in user-friendliness, effectiveness, and complexity.

To give you an idea of the parameters of QA software capabilities, every mistake is detected by comparison with software databases built into the program or those glossaries and translation memories that you create within it. Limitations exist in these programs’ ability to ‘understand’ different grammatical rules between the source and target texts; nor are they able to compensate for a misunderstanding the translator incorporated into the text, nor spot a poorly written phrase. But they have become indispensible to professional translation agencies, especially for large projects.

  J. McShulskis





A Hidden International Language

25 11 2014

Into the universal realm of the Unicode, the symbols for a weightlifter, a spiderweb and the Mona Lisa have now been accepted. These are three of the more than 250 emoji considered significant enough that their computer encoding is being officially standardized for use by Apple, Google, Microsoft and others.

new_emojisThese three join hundreds of emoji facial expressions, hand gestures, food items, weather and plant elements, on and on, used to replace or augment words.The non-profit Unicode Consortium regulates embedded computer code for every character in every living language, and is “the foundation for all modern software” according to their official website (Unicode.org). Begun by Xerox and Apple leaders in 1987 as an “international/multilingual text character encoding system,” today Unicode sets officially recognized computer code standards in coordination with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

Changing the standardized code for any symbol – even if that code accidentally includes a misspelling – is not possible once it is in use, because stability of past programming with present and future programming is Unicode’s fundamental reason for existence. However, adding symbols is an ongoing process: ancient scripts for example, or new currency symbols, and the ever-increasing number of popular emoji.

The formal petitioning process for the acceptance of new symbols is lengthy and complex. The first criterion is that new characters must be in widespread use as textual elements (for a glimpse of the most-used emoji, check out a real time tally of their Twitter use at emojitracker.com). When that is established, petitioners are asked to engage in discussion via Unicode forums and email exchanges to refine (or eliminate) their proposals.

Such discussions may well include cultural, political, and social concerns (see for example, “What about diversity?” at Unicode.org under FAQ), involving issues like the color of your symbol or its origins. One Unicode emoji petition argued: “Of the more than 800 emojis, the only two resembling people of color are a guy who looks vaguely Asian and another in a turban. There’s a white boy, girl, man, woman, elderly man, elderly woman, blond boy, blonde girl, and, we’re pretty sure, Princess Peach. But when it comes to faces outside of yellow smileys, there’s a staggering lack of minority representation.”

Juxtaposition of computer code standardization with a conversation including yellow smiley faces in a tally of racially diverse symbols seems impossibly odd. But this is, after all, the formative stage of a sort of international language, and human beings are incurably attached to the significance of their symbols.

The Unicode 7.0.0 symbols added this year and 8.0.0 symbols in the process of adaptation are described and listed at Unicode.org.
What do they mean to Americans? What do they mean to Swedes or Peruvians? How is the use of such symbols changing our conversations?

 

 J. McShulskis

 





Oceans Apart – the Portuguese of Portugal and Brazil

23 06 2014

“Brasileiro” is the word European Portuguese speakers use for the version of Portuguese that is spoken in Brazil. In fact, the two languages are so much different that transl ators may re-write a document from scratch into the desired Portuguese, rather than translating it from one to the other.

These two main branches diverge in spelling, phraseology, sentence structure, accents, infinitive and gerund use, object pronouns, and even vocabulary, such as the use of “voce” vs. “tu” for “you”. Why? To start with, there are oceans – of time, space, history, and culture, as well as water – between South America and Europe. And while Brazil is surrounded by Spanish-speaking countries, Portugal has been influenced by Italian, French, and other European languages, in addition to Spanish.

Portuguese translationsWith a population of about 200 million people (versus Portugal’s 10.5 million) Brazil is by far the largest Portuguese-speaking country, mainstreaming its language into the global Portuguese community with such exports as their “novelas” – soap operas—in the way that Hollywood spread American English in the 20th century.

Brazil’s World Cup this year and Olympics in 2016 will no doubt establish “brasileiro” even more widely as a standard in the global community. If you have plans to attend either, and possess a familiarity with European Portuguese (EP), you will want to remember to watch for surprises. The EP phrase for “bathroom”, for instance – casa de banho – is replaced by one banheiro. And if a policeman wants to see your identity card, he or she will ask for your “cedula” not your “bilhete”.

Efforts at official standardization have been made and continue. Since the 1980s, the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP) has been working toward the development and implementation of a unified orthography, addresses spelling variances, if not the other issues. The result has been the Orthographic Agreement of 1990, and while discussions and controversy have accompanied this agreement, it was finally signed into law in 2008 in Portugal with the cushion of a six-year transitional period, and in Brazil it was adopted in 2009.

J. McShulskis