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Directline translations partners SIELE – Certificación de Español (Famlang)

Directline translations partners SIELE (Famlang)

SIELE is the Servicio Internacional de Evaluación de la Lengua Española which certifies electronically the command of the Spanish language proficiency for students and professionals.

  • Is promoted by the Instituto Cervantes, the Universidad Autónoma de México, the Universidad de Salamanca and the Universidad de Buenos Aires. These institutions guarantee the standards for quality and good practices in the creation of the tests and the use of diverse linguistic varieties in the Hispanic world.

  • SIELE certifies the degree of proficiency for the Spanish language with four tests: Reading and listening comprehension, Written expression and interaction and Spoken expression and interaction; the exam also takes as a reference the levels established by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

7 reasons why machine translations will never replace human translators

The possibility of automatic translation has been around for a long time. In recent years machine translations have become increasingly sophisticated and popular. – But will machine translations ever be of the same quality as those of a qualified human translator? Please read our previous article onmachine translations versus human translators here.

As early as 1629 René Descartes proposed a universal language. He proposed that the same concepts in different languages would be expressed by the same symbols. This could be called the birth of the idea that one day it will be possible to convey a written text in one language in another without the aid of a human translator.

The first mention of our modern concept of machine translation occurred in 1949; the first formal research started in 1951.

Early attempts of machine translation services

Systran and Babelfish were the earliest providers of web-based translations. Starting in 1997. They were met with enthusiasm by users and derision by linguists. Many did not believe that machines would ever be able to understand and translate complex and intuitive texts as well as human translators.

Examples of ridiculously inappropriate translations abounded. By the time Google Translate came along in 2002 machine translation had advanced considerably. So that many translators now offer post‑editing services to polish machine translated texts. The quality of machine translated texts is constantly improving.

So, will human translators eventually be out of work? Will machines translate text A into text B as easily as a driverless car can take us from point A to point B?

Some people believe that it is only a matter of time until translators become obsolete. Can this be true?

1   The enormity of the task

A universal machine translation program would need a huge scope. There are some 7000 languages in the world. Even if machine translation covered only the few hundred major ones, there are major obstacles to overcome. The basic environment would not only have to be programmable with the grammatical structures, rules and vocabulary of each one of the languages involved. It would also need to contain the translation rules for translating each one of them into every other one.

In addition, it would have to contain every single word and concept in each of those languages, ranging from day-to-day conversations to nuclear physics. It would have to encompass politics, medicine, law, cutting-edge scientific research, technology and every other conceivable context. The list is sheer endless.

2   Choosing the correct register

The software program would also have to know how to recognise what register was correct in every case. This is to say what the correct level of language would be.

When would more colloquial words be right and when are formal or scientific translations needed? When should the program opt for “heart attack” and when for “acute myocardial infarction”? The rules for this can change from language to language. So it would not be enough to rely on the register of the source text.

In the case of translating from a language with little formality, such as English, into one of much more complex formality, the translator has to make very fine judgments. A human translator has years of experience to fall back on. How can a software program accumulate the same knowledge?

English addresses everyone as “you”. Many other languages have familiar and formal addresses (German and French for example). English people often address each other by their first names. Many other countries are much more formal and use Mr/Ms + name for most interactions. In a business context, hybrid forms of addresses have developed, whereby people use first names plus the formal version of “you”.

A machine translation program would have to know exactly what combinations are possible in the target language. It needs to know which combinations to use in any given type of text – informal letter, formal letter, business proposal, scientific paper, abstract, speech, presentation. It would also need to take into account the type of readership or audience. Furthermore, when it comes to letters, it would have to know the precise personal or business relationship of the writer and the intended reader. In an advertising context the software would have to have the ability to apply the correct level of formality appropriate in the target country.

3   Evolution of language: new and changing words and concepts

Language changes all the time. We now have concepts and words that didn’t exist 10 or 20 years ago. Facebook, selfies, mobiles, OMG….

Other words change their meaning and are no longer used in the old context. Once, gay meant “jolly” and “jolly” was used more often than “happy”, “lively” and “cheerful”.

Our language grows with each new product, service and each new scientific discovery. The Global Language Monitor estimates that a new English language word is created every 98 minutes. It further states that, as of 14 June 2016, the total number of English words stood at 1,035,877.3 (one wonders how they arrived at .3 of a word).

4   Evolution of language: changing grammar

It’s not only words that change, our grammar, too, is forever evolving.

It is now almost acceptable to speak of a “large amount” of people. Not many people even notice constructions such as “5 items or less” any more. Wordings that were unacceptable 20 years ago are now commonplace.

Who still bats an eyelid at “He invited my husband and I.” or “Me and my colleagues are looking forward to seeing you soon.”?

It’s now accepted practice and considered perfectly correct in many instances to use contractions. No longer are English language students taught that the written form is “do not” but the spoken form is “don’t”.

5   Evolution of language: knowing the history of terminology

To start with, machine translation tools would have to be programmed with the current meaning and usage of terms. Additionally, the programs need to “know” the complete history of terminology and its usage. Last but not least, the program would need to have the capability of recognising the era a text is from.

  • It would have to recognise whether the word “gay” in a text referred to “gaily gadding about teddy bears at a picnic” or to sexual orientation.
  • The software would have to know that the Internet was once, briefly, called the Information Superhighway, and it would have to know the historically correct equivalent in all other languages.
  • It would have to know what a phrase like “be there or be square” once meant, or at least how to research it. And it would have to know whether there was an equivalent square satellite dish to the British Squarial in the target country of the translation, or whether the translator needs to explain the sentence as well as translate it.
  • Knowing that Smart was once a word processing package competing with Word and WordPerfect for supremacy would also be a requirement.
  • Finally, it would have to decide whether the text it is translating targets people who also know all of this or whether it targets readers who need further explanations. It would have to know whether it can simply translate Smart as Smart or whether it would have to say “Smart, one of the early word processing packages.”

6   Keeping the software updated

It is clear that even if it was theoretically possible to write a 100% perfect machine translation program, this would depend on constant updating. This huge task could only be accomplished by a team of programmers, translators and experts. They would spend all their working lives updating the program with language rules, grammar rules, terminology, usage standards and the translation of all of these from one language into all the others.

It’s impossible to write a program that, without any further input, can translate all topics under the sun in every detail and for every circumstance.

7   Like a driverless car without a defined road network

Machine translations are getting pretty good at translating engineering manuals where A = B throughout and where no other judgments are necessary. The equivalent to this would be the driverless car on a normal road that takes passengers safely from A to B, following all the traffic rules.

Driverless cars are relatively easy, though. There are clearly defined roads and clearly defined rules. As human error accounts for most, if not all accidents, it has always been conceivable that one day, machines would be able to do the job better than humans.

Let’s say that language equates to the roads, that it is the pathways by which meaning gets transported from A to B.
Unlike roads, language does not have clearly defined parameters. As we saw, language is a very flexible, purely human construct. It has multi-faceted meanings and emotional undertones, underpinned by so many cultural assumptions, and it is ever-changing.

Texts do not just convey information but also emotions, humor, puns and poetry. How ill machine translations ever be able to transfer these fittingly into another language?

What works in one language does not necessarily work in another.

The Fiat car “Nova” was a complete flop in Spain where “no va” means “it’s not working”.

“To use something like water” means “to use it carefully” in some languages and “to use it liberally” in others.

Or take the iconic election campaign poster “Britain isn’t working”. It relies on “not working” meaning “not running effectively” as well as “not having a job”. This dual meaning does not exist in many other languages.

How would a machine translation program decide which version to drop? How would is decide on a compromise or whether to re-write a translated term completely or use entirely different words that might convey the same underlying ideas?

Very often, the original text is a mere guideline for a translator to start again. It is the basis for finding another way of conveying the same meaning in the source language.

That means that a translation starting with source text A doesn’t have a pre-defined arrival point B, as the many possible translations of the same text show. Each chosen word has its limitations and its strengths. Often, the translation depends on how you interpret text A. This means that even your starting point isn’t always clear.

Translating is a bit like asking a car to leave from an undefined parking bay in a multi-storey car park (point A) and drive to an undefined point B on roads with a rudimentary track system but with road-signs that look like “choose 10, 15, 30 or 70 mph hour here, or be inventive if you think that’s better”.

Youngsters have languages under their spell- Cambridge Network

The young people have been given 200 words to learn in their chosen language, either French, German or Spanish. The winner of the Routes into Languages National Spelling Bee will be the pupil who can correctly translate and then spell the most words in 60 seconds.

Local MP Daniel Zeichner will then award prizes to the winners.

He said: “Britain’s next generation is looking outwards. Congratulations to everyone reaching the final. Speaking a foreign language is a fantastic skill and helps build bridges with people across the world. Meanwhile studies show learning languages helps improve memory, multitasking and decision-making.”

Sarah Schechter, Project Manager for Routes into Languages East at Anglia Ruskin University, said: “We’re very excited to be able to give these talented youngsters a chance to show their flair for languages here at Anglia Ruskin University.

“Evidence suggests the benefits of learning languages stretch far beyond the practicalities of being a useful tool when living, working or travelling abroad and it is very encouraging that we have had so many entries to this year’s competition.

“We look forward to welcoming all the children on 1 July and hope the academic ambience of Cambridge can give them all that extra ‘je ne sais quoi’.”

Interpreters need to learn from actors

Interpreting in 2018 is becoming progressively more of an audiovisual experience in remote encounters, than the face-to-face meetings of the past. As such, in my opinion, there is one issue that interpreters of the 21st century need now more than ever: EMPATHY, the ability to understand and SHARE the feelings of another human being.
As a trained actor from my days of youth, I believe that many of the techniques that are used by actors should be used by remote interpreters; as conduits of the thoughts of another being, those thoughts never exist in a vacuum. Thoughts are intimately related not only to our culture and the patterns of our society but also to our feelings, for thoughts control feelings (and feelings influence thoughts).

How translation tech is making travel easier

Just as services like Google Maps have made it easier to get around, at home or abroad, some advances in translation tech are making it easier to travel in places where one may not know the language.

Right now this translation tech is still in its infancy and primarily eases logistical complexities. With Google Translate, you can point your camera at a street sign to verify it says “Downtown This Way” and not “There Be Dragons.” The same app can quickly translate a menu—if not always perfectly, then well enough to be sure that you’re ordering chicken.

Absorbed in translation: the art – and fun – of literary translation

I recently stumbled upon a post that describes the process of literary translation as “soul-crushing.” That’s news to me, and I’ve been engaged in literary translation for the better part of four decades now. How would I describe it? “Humbling,” yes. “All-consuming,” definitely. But above all, “the most fun imaginable.”

Some may figure that literary translators are a dying breed, like quill pen makers, and assume that computers will eventually take over the job. Don’t hold your breath. Machine translation has a role to play – and no doubt an increasing one – but it is doomed to be literal, to merely skim the surface. Enter “Don’t hold your breath” into Google Translate and you’ll get an injunction to not stop breathing. A human touch is needed to understand layers of meaning in context and to create something pleasurable to read.

Yet the process is humbling, primarily because as a translator, you are constantly made aware of your limitations: there are all the events or interactions described in the original text that you know nothing about, or have never experienced. Or you long to reproduce the wit, rhythm, and beauty of the original, but, for a host of reasons, have to settle for less.

I also find that humility is a practical necessity. When the original makes little sense, often the first impulse is to blame the author. Humility allows you to see the original text in a new light – to appreciate it for what it is, rather than what you may think it’s supposed to be. If you approach a confusing sentence with the assumption that you’re missing something, you’re usually right. So my first rule would be: assume _you _are wrong, not the author.

The Fall of Language in the Age of English (Columbia University Press, 2015) warns against the unchecked proliferation of English.Columbia University Press

I’ve collaborated with Japanese author Minae Mizumura on translating two of her books, including the just-released The Fall of Language in the Age of English (Columbia University Press, 2015).

The Fall of Language was first translated by Mari Yoshihara, a professor at the University of Hawaii who also found the publisher. Mizumura then asked me to review the entire book with her – to incorporate changes she made to render the text more accessible and relevant to non-Japanese readers. The book explores the importance of national literature and warns against the unchecked proliferation of English, lamenting that not only nuances, but also “truths” – accessible only in other languages – are in danger of being lost. Translating such a book into English may seem perverse, but it underscores the point that in our age, ideas can spread only if they’re communicated in English.

Over the course of two books, Mizumura and I have worked out a routine.

First, I spend however long is needed to write a draft. Usually I translate alone – most often between the hours of 9 p.m. and 3 a.m.

Once the draft is finished Mizumura and I will review it separately, making tentative changes and formulating questions. Then we get together and spend hours discussing, probing, researching and reshaping.

At the end of the day, I go home and review what we accomplished (once, before a deadline, our “day” concluded at 5 a.m.). When our brains start to go numb with exhaustion, we meet every other day, rather than daily.

The number of drafts varies, but every little improvement, every step closer to the outcome she and I both envision, makes the process one of unfolding joy. All the more so when translating a major author such as Mizumura.

The process of rewriting involves focusing on the author’s main point (or the character’s emotion) and ensuring it’s conveyed as originally intended. It’s like bringing a musical score to life: you pay attention to tempo, dynamics, and phrasing, and above all you seek to end up with not a collection of notes but music. If a turn of speech doesn’t work well in English, it’s better to alter or omit it. Take the example below, from The Fall of Language:

Draft version: Yet just like a constellation of stars in the sky, modern Japanese literature is full of writing that gives the scent of the “reality” of Japan at the time and is also filled with the “truths” visible only through the Japanese language.

Final version: Yet the corpus of modern Japanese literature is filled with such diverse linguistic and literary wonderment that it is a true embarrassment of riches. It is also filled with “truths” visible only through the Japanese language. (p. 153)

Elsewhere, in describing the striking beauty of young Iowans, Mizumura wrote that they looked as if they had stepped out of “Nazi propaganda films.” To Western readers this is a dubious compliment (at best), even if it helps us visualize tall, lithe bodies and corn-yellow hair. She didn’t want to remove the phrase – she’s averse to political correctness, God bless her – so we compromised: “People who I secretly thought would look perfect in Nazi propaganda films as members of the Hitler Jugend – though they might not like the comparison – were walking all over campus with majestic long strides.” (p. 25, emphasis added)

Does ‘translating’ Shakespeare into modern English diminish its greatness?

An uproar ensued after it was reported that the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) – southern Oregon’s 80-year-old annual theatrical extravaganza – would be commissioning playwrights to “translate” all of Shakespeare’s plays into modern English.

The project drew jeers from Shakespearean professors, arts practitioners and others who believe passionately in the power of Shakespeare’s original texts, who abhor any attempt to “dumb down” their language.

OSF Director of Literary Development and Dramaturgy Lue Douthit and OSF Artistic Director Bill Rauch maintain that OSF is undertaking a bold, not sacrilegious, experiment. Nevertheless, howls of outrage have followed what Douhit ruefully has deemed a “career-ending” announcement for those involved.

As an educator and lover of Shakespearean drama, I remain committed to the value of presenting Shakespeare’s plays in their original language. I require my students to read Shakespeare’s plays in their original form, and through my work on the World Shakespeare Project, I’ve witnessed undergraduates in places such as Uganda, rural India and Buenos Aires enthusiastically respond to the challenge.

Yet the outrage over the OSF’s new modernization project is misguided. The organization – which is known for experimentation – is simply participating in larger, centuries-long tradition of molding, melding and adapting Shakespeare’s original texts.

Directline wins best regional translation Quality Award 2018

Directline translation company emerges the winner of this year regional translation quality award (RTQA). A company with great passion for global language alliance and corporate language solutions. An authorized translation company in Lagos, Nigeria with multilingual reach. Directline is a platform with unique identity of native language translators.  A company with a difference.

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