Thursday, April 30, 2015

Business trip to Tokyo - part 1: Japanese Signs

Given idioma's headquarters are in Tokyo, this happens to be a common business trip target for our managing director in Prague. Despite being used to the different culture after years of living in Japan, visiting Tokyo after a longer period of being exposed to Central European free-thinking can still strike hard. On the other hand, it's interesting to perceive how cultures are literally clashing. Behold, Chapter One from a manual of "How to overwhelm your average tourist in Tokyo": Signs.

Love and signs are all around

Roads, sidewalks, walls, glass walls, doors, windows. The Japanese sense of manners and organisation demonstrates throughout the need to organize and structure as many activities and processes as possible. 
Of course, there's nothing strange with signs painted on roads, at least not when they relate to traffic – such as prohibiting pedestrians from blundering into unwanted places. But how about a sign painted on the road, prohibiting you from smoking on the open street in four languages (Japanese, Chinese, Korean and English)? Let's try to find similar one, say in Vienna or Paris :)


STOP



...and in case you were distracted and missed an announcement, they repeat at very short intervals, even onto benches and walls. Very expressive visuals ensure you understand even if you unable to read Japanese.




Never let you down 

One could consider this cultural difference as a helpful aid that never lets you down if you possess the ability of reading. A true sign paradise (or better said hell) lurks in train or subway stations and the never-ending passageways. They appear one after the other, each one eager to deliver its own specific prohibitive or directive statement, and it can sometimes be hard to keep track of all the well-intended signs.


Don't stop here...

...or run into the train (try that in rush hours)...


...and better don't stick your fingers between the train doors (who would have thought that)...

...keep out, don't rush, don't smoke, don't be impolite...

...don't worry, be happy, and keep your hands safe...


...had enough? Hold on, there's more!

In case you didn't know, you should be extra careful when riding escalators in vinyl shoes.



Now this one actually helps if you're not familiar with local customs. Japanese drive as well as walk "British-style" and you do want to keep to the left on escalators, walkways, in staircases or while walking in crowded corridors as long as you don't want to be frowned  upon. After all, Japan is the land of politeness, and when in Rome do as the Romans do.

...spekaing of politeness, did you ever switch on the "Manner Mode" on your phone when getting on a train or bus? When commuting in Japan, dive into your phone's mode settings and then hold on!


 At this point, you may have contemplated alternative means of transport instead of trains. Well...better think twice :)


Next part: Reign of machines in Japan...

Friday, April 24, 2015

Translation tips: Comma or period...or something completely different?

We are often approached to provide guidance on what is the most common way of using decimal dividers and thousand separators for the various languages that we translate into.
While everyone is aware of US English using periods for decimal division and commas to separate thousands in big numbers, the issue is somehow obscure when it comes to all the different lan­guages used in Europe. 

Diacritical mayhem

In US English, the value of pi is 3.14 while a million is written as 1,000,000 with comma separators. This system is also used widely throughout Asia and in almost all English speaking countries. In Spain, pi is written like “3,14” and everyone would like to win “1.000.000” Euro in a lottery. Many other European countries apply similar punctuation in numbers, but there are exceptions. In Germanic languages, i.e. German, Dutch, Danish, Norwe­gian and Swedish, the decimal comma is also standard and pi is written as “3,14”. However, while a million can be written like what is the custom in e.g. Spain, there is now a general trend to instead use nonbreaking spaces and people like to win “1 000 000” Euro instead on the lottery. To complicate things, for the Germanic (and also Slavic) languages there is also a general preference to not use any divider in single thousand numbers. So you would e.g. pay “€1500” for a very good bicycle and “€9000” for a decent car. If you add German value added tax of 19%, the final price becomes “€10 710” (yes with a space) for the same car.

Solution? idioma QA style sheet

This trend of omitting the separator is also picking up in many other European countries, and it is a commonplace practice today. We have learned that many of our clients are not aware of this. As a result, we have developed special QA style sheets in which we have recommendations for all the 70+ languages we translate into.
Clients can accept these recommenda­tions or enter their own preference for the various languages that projects should be translated into. It is even possible to enter non-standard practices, e.g. to omit all dividers in thousands and larger, for example when translat­ing very technical documents where numbers should simply remain the same in disregard of what language they are translated into. The information in the style sheets is passed on to our translators and proofreaders as ‘mini rules’ so they can adhere to your pref­erences while handling your projects.

Please contact our project manager for more information on these style sheets and how you best can use them to your advantage.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

iQube = Quality, Quantity, and Quickness

Multilingual documentation has become increasingly challenging over the years – quality in translation must be maintained while we match clients’ detailed specifications accompanied with short deadlines. One translator can only produce so much in a day, and splitting projects on multiple translators usually affects the overall style and draw negative feedback from clients. As we accept clients’ requests with increasingly shorter delivery terms, it is unrealistic to make translators remember each and every instruction and use reference material that overwhelm rather than help. We have taken this issue into serious consideration to be able to handle volume projects in short time frames without this affecting the quality. So, through extensive development and testing, we have developed an innovative translation platform called “iQube”.

TM engines – friends or foes?

iQube™ is a smart Translation Memory (TM) solution developed in-house at idioma. It represents a 3-dimensional service: Quality, Quantity, and Quickness. Many TM tools exist in the translation industry today, each with different advantages. We have tried to implement most of these in iQube while we have kept an extremely simple interface. From experience we know that the majority of translators struggle in a TM environment, many are lost in all the available settings and almost everyone complain that tags in existing TM systems make actual translation difficult and post-checking even more so. Style, being another issue, is difficult to unify as every translator has different writing styles. As such iQube was designed as an intelligent TM platform, where emphasis was on a clean work environment for the translator to make it easier to concentrate on the translation task and subsequent verification of translated documents.

4 reasons 4 iQube™ 

iQube™ accentuates Quality, Quantity, and Quickness in translation in the following ways:
  1. Integrated QA! idioma’s CrossCheck® QA application is completely integrated in iQube – each and every segment that is translated and verified is subject to mandatory QA checking to make sure Quality is not compromised.
  2. Highly customizable! iQube™ can be adapted to match client specifications – it notifies translators working on projects about client preferences, even checking to make sure writing rules are respected.
  3. Team work! If you have a tight deadline and are in a hurry, we can divide your project among multiple translators who will work in real time together against the iQube™ platform so translators can check and reuse each others’ work. This common way of working ensures unification of style in translated content.
  4. Process automation! As translation projects become increasingly complex with unification and detailed specifications constituting core issues, iQube™ systematizes glossary use, automates QA checks, and style sheet loading, this way contributing to Quickness.

1 more reason – it is Free!

A fifth reason should also be mentioned. iQube™ is offered for free use to all idioma suppliers. There is no need to invest 50, 100 or even 1,000 Euro in an expensive commercial solution that you don´t know will be useful or even used again. The iQube™ software solution also undergoes continuous change to make sure it is always up-to-date, making it an ideal work tool for translators and reviewers.

The better TM engine, the better translation?

The end result to clients is of course shortened delivery terms with enhanced consistency in their documentation. iQube™ has positively changed the translators’ work experience. Translators now receive maximum assistance and can focus on producing premium quality translation. As iQube™ manages the translators’ work environment, we recommend generation of custom glossaries, style sheet creation, and to specify project parameters prior to starting projects. We are determined to make your translation perfect. By combining iQube™ with our QA services, we can guarantee a completely different quality dimension on your translation projects even when working with large volumes and short deadlines. To get to know more about iQube™, please contact us (either via email or just call our office for further assistance), or visit www.idioma.com

Friday, April 10, 2015

Language facts: Spanish

Spanish (español) or Castilian (castellano) is an Indo-European, Romance language that originated in northern Spain and gradually spread in the Kingdom of Castile eventually evolving into the principal language of government and trade (mainly thanks to King Alfonso, who standardized the language for official use already in 13th century). It was taken to Africa, the Americas, and Asia Pacific with the expansion of the Spanish Empire between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries. By the time of Columbus exploring the New world, Spanish reached the point where it would be understandable even today. The authority in terms of standard Spanish is The Royal Spanish Academy, that has been producing grammar guides and dictionaries since 18th century.
Madrid
Source: DollarPhotoClub

Lucrative language

Spanish is the official language of more than twenty countries, mainly in the Americas besides Spain, but it is generally spoken on all five continents. It's also one of the EU languages as well as one of six official languages of the United Nations. Interestingly, after Chinese Mandarin, is Spanish language most spoken around the world by the number of speakers who has it as a mother language. Spanish language is spoken as the first and second language by between 450 and 500 million persons. Spanish is said to be quite easy to learn, also due to being one of the most phonetic languages in the world.

From Latin to Arabic

The Spanish, as other Romance languages, is a modern extension of spoken Latin (also called Vulgar Latin) from around the 3rd century A.D. However, the evolution of Spanish language was heavily influenced by Arabic and later also English. The resemblance between English and Spanish is quite visible, while the two languages share a large volume of common words and expressions. 

Alphabet:

A B C D E F G H I J K L Ll M N Ñ O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
a b c d e f g h i j k l ll m n ñ o p q r s t u v w x y z

Friday, April 3, 2015

Hanami - the celebration of spring

Every year, spring in Japan gives an energy boost and invites to festive get-togethers. Spring in Japan indicates change with new beginnings and endings. The business year and even the school year both end in March and begin anew, fresh in April – around the same time as the cherry tree, Sakura, blossoms. It is a season where college graduates say their goodbyes and the young work force begins new careers. People across Japan wait for the Sakura to bloom in their region. The Sakura Zensen, or “Cherry blossom front”, indicates in what regions in Japan the Sakura is blooming. Naturally, the flowers start blooming from the south as it gets warmer, working their way up to the north following each of Japan’s islands in her archipelago.


Defend your spot under the tree!

As soon as the Sakura blooms in their region, people are quick to reserve a spot under a tree so they can gather for a Hanami, “flower viewing”, together. You will see one blue plastic sheet after the other spread out under every Sakura tree as far as the eye can see. Many families enjoy the scenery during the daytime, relaxing and enjoying the warm sun-rays and cool breeze. University students, particularly freshman, get together and try to get to know each other, breaking the ice with stuttery introductions. And then there are all the company workers, men and women alike, who are ordered to find a spot for their company, waiting alone under the blooming trees to secure a good spot before it is taken by somebody else. Almost unimaginable to the western mind, this waiting can last many hours and even days! Then after work, when all the coworkers are available, they gather to eat, drink, play games and sometimes even sing together. This goes on well into the night even after dark. If they run out of food or drink, they call the local pizza or sushi delivery, and use GPS coordinates for the point of delivery…  

Spring celebration at the cemetery

Some people even bring private electric generators and floodlights so they can enjoy the Yozakura, “cherry blossoms at night”. Aoyama Bochi, the big cemetery in Aoyama in central Tokyo, is a famous Hanami spot and extremely popular for its Yozakura. The cherry blossoms are especially pretty at this sacred place, and throughout the night you will see many people gathering. Being a cemetery, there are graves everywhere but it doesn't seem to bother anyone. People enjoy Hanami, celebrating their goodbyes and new beginnings with those who have long since passed away.