Tuesday, November 14, 2017

idioma sponsoring Translators without borders in 2018

Tokyo/Prague, (November 7, 2017) – idioma, an international translation services provider based in Tokyo since 1980, is pleased to announce that it has once again pledged its support to help humanitarian translations reach more people around the world by becoming a bronze sponsor of Translators without Borders.

Translators without Borders (TWB) strives to provide people access to vital, often life-saving, information in their own language by connecting non-profit organizations with a community of professional translators, building local language translation capacity, and raising awareness of language barriers. The organization has responded to urgent crises by using its Words of Relief model, working with partners, to provide vital information in the appropriate languages to those affected by the European refugee crisis, the Ebola crisis and the Nepal earthquake. 

Commenting on idioma’s decision to become a sponsor, Steen Carlsson, the managing director of idioma’s Production center, said:
“Having worked with languages all my life, in my job and privately, I know what the difference of even the most rudimentary translation can mean to a person unable to communicate. When those you communicate with do not understand what you say, or what you need, or why you behave the way you do, there is only despair. Translators without Borders is a concept we are happy to support and it is my sincere hope more people in need will benefit from their help.”

idioma is proud to be supporting Translators without Borders in this work.

More about Translators without Borders

Translators without Borders envisions a world where knowledge knows no language barriers. The US-based non-profit provides people access to vital knowledge in their language by partnering with humanitarian organizations. Originally founded in 1993 in France as Traducteurs sans Frontières (now its sister organization), Translators without Borders translates more than five million words per year. In 2012, the organization established a Healthcare Translator Training Center in Nairobi, Kenya. For more information and to volunteer or donate, please visit the TWB website or follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Newsletter 2018


・言語のいろは セルビア語

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

idioma @ 27th JTF Translation Festival in Tokyo






会期:2017年11月29日(水) 9:00~17:30
会場:アルカディア市ヶ谷 3階 富士の間.

idioma @ 27th JTF Translation Festival in Tokyo

On November 29, 2017 idioma will exhibit at the JTF Translation Festival held at Arcadia Ichigaya in Tokyo. The JTF Translation Festival is Japan’s largest annual exhibition for translators and LSPs.

idioma plans to introduce its core ISO:17100, ISO:9001 and ISO:18587 certified translation servicesAdmission to the corporate exhibition space is free and registration is not necessary. We look forward to seeing you there!

If you have any questions please email us at info@idioma.jp.

Exhibition details:
Date: November 29 (Wed), 2017 9:00~17:30
Venue: Arcadia Ichigaya, Tokyo
Our booth: “Fuji” Hall 3F
Website: https://www.jtf.jp/festival/festival_top.do

Friday, September 29, 2017

Languages of Spain's separatist regions: Basque and Catalan

Over the course of history, languages and their evolution have proven to be an accelerator of brawls between nations, as language happens to be the one common denominator for different groups inhabiting the same area that we actually call a nation. Language is an identification mark of affiliation and there are still languages in Europe that bear the nation-building agenda, even in 2017. Examples of such languages are those of Basque and Catalan, the Spain's rebellious regions. 

Basque language

Basque is a language spoken by people in a geographic area in northeastern Spain stretching into parts of southwestern France. Over the past centuries, this region has contracted. Recently, as a result of the Basque nationalistic movement, the language has made a slight comeback. Basque is, in fact, a rather interesting language, as it is an isolated language and is not even remotely similar to any known existing language in the world. Presumably, Basque happens to be one of the few pre-Indo-European languages, the only one remaining in use in Western Europe. 

Basque lands
Source: AdobeStock.com
Several dialects of Basque exist, however, the main dialect is Euskara Batua, a standard introduced in the 1960s that is generally taught in Basque schools. Basque is spoken by a little less than one million people. The language has co-official status in the Basque regions  of Spain, but has no official status in the French regions. 
During the era of Francoist Spain, the language was reluctantly tolerated in the Basque regions that supported the uprising of Franco, yet frowned-upon in those regions where the uprising gained little support.

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n ñ o p q r s t u v w x y z

Areas of Basque and Catalan speakers in Spain
Source: AdobeStock.com

Catalan language

Catalan is a Romance language with somewhere between 9 and 10 million speakers, but not necessarily native. It is the official language of Andorra and enjoys co-official status in a few Spanish communities, mainly on Spain's east coast, among others in Valencia, where it is called Valencian, or in the Balearic Islands. Similar to Spanish, Catalan also originates from Vulgar Latin. It reached its golden era in medieval times, particularly the Low Middle Ages, when it spread through the Mediterranean. It was used as an official language even in Sicily (until the 15th century) and Sardinia (until the 17th century), while the city of Alghero in Sardinia still tends to use Catalan until the present day. 

The decline of Catalan, that in fact still continues, can be traced back to a specific historical event, the union of Castille and Aragon crowns in 1479, which caused an increasing influence of Spanish in the region. Yet another blow came in 1659, when the northern parts of the Catalonia region was ceded to France. Not only did the language come under the influence of French, it was even drastically prohibited from public use, with efforts to revive Catalan literature coming no sooner than in the half of 19th century. 
The language was banned in use yet again during the Francoist era and has been recognized as an official language only after Spain's transition to democracy. 

Barcelona, Catalan, Spain
Source: AdobeStock.com

Nowadays, there are efforts to revive the language, among others by the French General Council of Pyrénées-Orientales (who introduced Catalan as one of the official languages of the department), to further promote it in public life and education. This seems to be necessary, as statistical research showed a quite dramatic decline of the population in the Catalan region that self-identifies primarily with Catalan (from 44.3% in 2003 to only 36.4% in 2013), which is believed to be caused by immigration, mainly from Arabic-speaking countries. A share of Catalonia's annual budget is poured into promoting the use of Catalan and integration of newcomers. Another issue is that the Catalan-speakers are actually becoming extinct and outside Catalonia itself the language is being replaced by the stronger national languages such as Spanish, French and Italian. 

Catalan uses the Latin alphabet and uses acute accents (é, í, ó, ú) as well as grave accents (à, è, ò).

a b c ç d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Friday, September 8, 2017

ISO 18587: What it means for translation providers

Quality is one of the most crucial factors within the translation industry. Responsible providers not only know that high translation quality is an ongoing sales pitch, but that the perception of quality throughout the entire industry is important for all players involved. 
The evolution of machine translation (MT) is a game-changer in how the industry itself (and subsequently the public) considers the quality of translation services, and what is a translation service as such in the wake of machines assisting with translation.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) together with translation industry professionals have addressed the development by issuing two translation-related international standards, namely:
So, what is new with ISO 18587 and what should translation providers and clients alike pay attention to?

ISO 18578:2017 - Post-editing of machine translation output.
Source: AdobeStock.com

Translators and reviewers become post-editors

The norm deals chiefly with the term "post-editing" and focuses on "post-editors" instead of translators. In a strict sense, whenever input text passes through an initial CAT tool check or any computer-assisted pre-translation analysis or content processing, it becomes machine output.

Defining full post-editing vs. light post-editing

Moreover, the ISO 18587 standard distinguishes between “full post-editing” as a product comparable to a product of human translation in the final result, and “light post-editing” that provides results of "merely comprehensible text without any attempt to be similar to human translation" (as defined in Annex B of the norm). Obviously, in terms of the current perception of "quality" within today's translation industry, only full post-editing meets the quality standards as it delivers a professionally impeccable result. 
However, as long as “the final text is not intended for publication”, the norm clearly states what requirements need to be met to establish light-post editing that could, in fact, be turned into a service. It's up to discussion whether this approach of post-editing output quality will be feasible in the near future.

Post-editors need the same qualifications as translators

In ISO 18578, post-editors are considered translation professionals in the exact same sense as in ISO 17100, therefore an LSP needs to provide evidence that its post-editors either:
  • obtained a linguistic degree that has required significant translation training from a recognized organization, or
  • hold a degree from a field other than translation, while the subject can prove two years of professional experience in translation or post-editing, or
  • can prove an experience of 5 years of full-time translation or post-editing

Training of post-editors for machine output required

As translators transform into post-editors in this type of service, and because machines are heavily involved in the translation process, editing of MT output requires special knowledge of CAT tools and an understanding of how translation and terminology management systems interact with MT and MT systems. Post-editors need to be thoroughly trained to use the post-editing tools, recognize common MT errors, assess whether it makes sense to even edit the MT output in terms of effort and time spent and to become familiar with the difference between the full and light post-editing processes and the eventual outcome.

To maintain a high regard for the players in the translation industry, and especially for the companies that rely on the use of translation memories and other translation resources and workflows including MT, we would highly recommend getting familiar with the ISO 18587 standard and also consider their third-party translation suppliers' quality approach in the context of post-editing MT output.

All translation services by idioma are performed in compliance with ISO 9001:2016 (reg.no.:10.711.365), ISO 17100:2015 (reg.no.:7U426), as well as ISO 18587:2017 (reg.no.: RI004) standards.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Language facts: Azerbaijani

Azerbaijani, also known as Azeri (or Azeri Turkish), belongs to the Turkic language family and is spoken by some 25-35 million people. There are two variants of the language, North and South, and it is used by the Azerbaijani people in southwestern Asia (also referred to as Transcaucasia, or the South Caucasus region). 

Baku, the Capital of Azerbaijan
Source: AdobeStock.com
North Azerbaijani is the official language of Azerbaijan and is spoken mainly in Azerbaijan, southern Dagestan and along the Caspian coast. South Azerbaijani is spoken in East and West Azerbaijan and in parts of Iran and Kurdistan, Iraq, Syria and Asian Turkey. 
Azerbaijani is closely related to Turkish, Qashqai and Turkmen. There are various levels of mutual intelligibility between each of the named languages. Turkish and Azerbaijani speakers are actually able to communicate with each other quite easily, not only due to historical reasons, but also due to being exposed to each other's cultures via radio and television. 

Lingua franca of Transcaucasia

From about the 16th to 20th century, Azeri served as a lingua franca of the Transcaucasia region, which could also be a reason why it adopted so many loan words and expressions from the Persian, Arabic, Ottoman Turkish and Russian languages. After the region was conquered by the Russian empire in the 19th century, there was a split in the development of the language, as the Azeri-speaking community was divided between two states (Russia – later the Soviet union, and Persia – now Iran). The Soviets, albeit promoting the language development, made two significant changes to the language by changing its script two times in a relatively short period of time, from the Persian script to the Latin script and later to the Cyrillic one. The Azerbaijani community in Iran kept using the Persian script. Azerbaijani did not become an official language until 1956. 


The country decided to abandon Azbuka and switch to the Latin Script after gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1990's. The language and its variants are practically still using 3 writing systems: Latin, Cyrillic, and Perso-Arabic. The North Azerbaijani use both Latin and Cyrillic scripts, while South Azerbaijani have adopted the Perso-Arabic writing system.
This is the Latin alphabet:

A Ə B C Ç D E F G Ğ H X I İ J K Q L M N O Ö P R S Ş T U Ü V Y Z a ə b c ç d e f g ğ ı i j k q l m n o ö p r s ş t u ü v y z

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Emoji translation: New field in the localization industry?

Recently, there was a news flash about a brand new job position in the world of translation: the emoji* translator. Yes, emoji has been de facto promoted to the status of a regular language, or at least a complex (and even independent) complementary language. It may sound a bit strange at first, mainly for older generations who either don't use emojis or are satisfied with the range of a happy and a sad smiley. However, Millennials and especially generation Z (post-millennials) have upgraded the use of emojis to a whole new level of communication style, and are sometimes even omitting regular words in information exchange to use just strings of emojis instead. As these generations gain more and more buying power, incorporation of emojis into business communication stops being a silly, childish quirk and instead becomes integral to a regular communication strategy. 

Emoji translator as a full-time profession.
Source: AdobeStock.com

What an emoji translator does for a living

Businesses who target younger consumers obviously tend to customize their content to the likes of their potential buyers. The increasing business usage of emojis is visible mainly on social media, delivered by administrators of an age similar to the targeted customers. Emojis are, after all, very simple and straightforward pictures used to express non-verbally in written communication, so what's there to translate, you ask? 

Can you read our emoji string? 3-level quality check, express delivery and human translators are also involved... :)

One level of the occupation is to actually transform regular human speech into attractive emoji strings. It's not always easy to express the original meaning correctly and mainly to invoke a certain type of "feeling" to the text. 

The other level is that not all the devices where the communication is viewed are the same. Different smart devices and different operating systems do not have a common protocol for how an emoji displays, which lays ground to a number of unforeseen faux pas when it comes to brand communication on social media. The job of an emoji translator is also to customize the content for the devices first, in order to convey the correct meaning and desired emotion to the reader. Emojis do not display the same way across different devices, and the developers tend to upgrade the looks and design of their emojis, sometimes to an extent that even changes the nuance and contextual meaning of the emoji (e.g. when Apple changed the regular gun emoji to one with a water pistol). 

Snippet from a comparison chart of different emojis from major U.S. and Japanese tel-com companies.
Source: Unicode.org

Your emoji use can show your background

Cultural differences and social development are also a huge factor here. Emojis of gestures common in the West, such as a thumb-up, might be considered offensive in the Middle East, while another common Western OK-hand gesture translates offensively in Latin America. Similarly, certain emojis have gained alternative meanings while being around online, which makes their business usage rather unfeasible (e.g. such as the emojis of an eggplant or a peach, which according to Emojipedia research conducted in December 2016 on a sample of over 570 tweets referred to the actual fruit only in 7% of cases).
Another research conducted by Swiftkey suggests really interesting cultural differences in the use of different types of emojis as well. For example, Arabic speakers tend to use much more heat and sun-related emojis than any other language. French overuse the heart emoji, using it four times more than any other speakers. In Australia, the usage of alcohol-related emojis is twice the average, while drug-related emojis rate 65% over the average. The most used emoji overall is, however, still a set of smiley faces (44.8 % of all usage).

With the revolution in communication around and behind us, it is really fascinating to watch seemingly unrelated factors to combine and create new job opportunities and trends, also in the translation industry. Looking to the future, let's hope people won't forget to use the actual written words.  :)

*Emojis are sets of different icons or images that display certain emotions, ideas, objects, etc. The first set of emojis was developed in 1999 in Japan and contained 176 icons. Nowadays there are over 2,000 available icons (taking skin color and gender variants into account).