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Nice discovery

While at Technorati, I discovered the interesting English-language blog "Colloquial Spanish", which offers daily Spanish expressions and their equivalents in English. It is indeed worth a read.

Some examples of expressions mentioned on this blog:

Spanish: “Irse por los cerros de Ubeda” literally means “To go through the Hills of Ubeda”, Ubeda being a town in Spain. The English equivalent is “To go off on a tangent” or “To wander off the subject”

In English we use the phrase “To twiddle one’s thumbs” to signify that we’re lounging about or being in between activities. In Spanish the equivalent phrase would be “Rascarse la barriga” which literally means “To scratch one’s belly”

For the latter one, I left a comment suggesting the alternative and rather funny Spanish expression "Tocarse las narices" (To touch one's noses). So yes, I took the time to leave a few comments during my visit. The author seems to know his Spanish well and his blog is lots of fun. Enjoy!



Permalink 09:03:04 am, Categories: For translation buyers, For professional translators, 421 words  

Translation is a disaster looking for a place to happen!

Is it? It can indeed be, when you don't take appropriate measures to assure a professional and high-quality translation. Can't you believe it? Take a look at this piece of news from

Doris Moore was shocked when her new couch was delivered to her Toronto home with a label that used a racial slur to describe the dark brown shade of the upholstery.

The situation was even more alarming for Moore because it was her 7-year-old daughter who pointed out "nigger brown" on the tag.

"My daughter saw the label and she knew the color brown, but didn't know what the other word meant. She asked, 'Mommy, what color is that?' I was stunned. I didn't know what to say. I never thought that's how she'd learn of that word," Moore said.

The mother complained to the furniture store, which blamed the supplier, who pointed to a computer problem as the source of the derogatory label

Kingsoft Corp., a Chinese software company, acknowledged its translation program was at fault and said it was a regrettable error.

"I know this is a very bad word," Huang Luoyi, a product manager for the Beijing-based company's translation software, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

He explained that when the Chinese characters for "dark brown" are typed into an older version of its Chinese-English translation software, the offensive description comes up.

"We got the definition from a Chinese-English dictionary. We've been using the dictionary for 10 years. Maybe the dictionary was updated, but we probably didn't follow suit," he said.

Moore, who is black, said Kingsoft's acknowledgment of a mistake does not make her feel better.

"They should know what they are typing, even if it is a software error," she said. "In order for something to come into the country, don't they read it first? Doesn't the manufacturer? The supplier?"


Moore is consulting with a lawyer and wants compensation. Last week, she filed a report with the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

Commission spokeswoman Afroze Edwards said the case is in the initial stages and could take six months to two years to resolve.

Moore, 30, has three young children, and said the issue has taken a toll on her family.

"Something more has to be done. We don't just need a personal apology, but someone needs to own up to where these labels were made, and someone needs to apologize to all people of color," Moore said. "I had friends over from St. Lucia yesterday and they wouldn't sit on the couch."



Permalink 02:49:10 pm, Categories: For translation buyers, Spanish language & translation, 160 words  

Spanish and US Hispanics

Another proof of the importance of the Spanish language for US Hispanics. Not that it is surprising, but just to strike a balance with other recent reports which suggest a rapid assimilation of US Hispanics into American culture and language...

Via Hispanic Trending:

Report: Spanish-language websites in demand

By Chris Reidy
April 26, 2007

A report from Forrester Research Inc. says 51 percent of US Hispanics who use the Internet prefer Spanish-language websites, and 23 percent must have Spanish online.

Forrester, a Cambridge technology and market research company, did a telephone survey of 3,000 US Hispanics earlier this year.

‘‘English-language sites are currently underserving 7.1 million online Hispanics,’’ said a Forrester data researcher, Tamara Barber. ‘‘If companies are serious about reaching this growing audience, they need to offer Spanish-language sites.

‘‘Not only does Spanish online help those who depend on Spanish for interactions, but it also builds brand value with consumers who can transact in English but prefer to be served in Spanish.’’

Source: Boston Globe



Permalink 07:25:21 am, Categories: For professional translators, 381 words  

Unable to access IATE?

If you are a professional translator, chances are that you have been trying to access IATE, the European Union terminological database, with little or no success. Indeed, they have been experiencing technical problems, and though these are over now, there is something to do on your computers to make it work. Fellow Greek translator Nick Lingris explains here how to go about it (copied below for your convenience):

At the bottom of the IATE search screen there is a frame which reads: Your last 10 requests. If you have been having problems with your searches and you click on ‘Select a saved request’, you will see that there is a very long string which has been created as a result of incorrect saving of your searches by the IATE program. This string is saved in the IATE cookie and, when it can no longer be updated, searches stop functioning. This happens regardless of the browser you use. The solution, for the time being, seems to be to delete the IATE cookie. DO NOT follow the solution that says ‘Delete cookies’ because there are many cookies there which you need.

For IE, follow these steps:
In Windows Explorer go to Documents and Settings > Your Computer Name (mine, for example, is Nick) > Cookies. Click on Search at the top. Choose to Search for Documents. Use Advanced search options and, where it says ‘All or part of the document name’ type ‘iate’ (without the quotes). Press Search and, once the results of the search come up, delete the iate cookie(s) (mine is called nick@iate.europa[2].txt).
Close and re-open Internet Explorer so it forgets the cookie it had in memory. When you reconnect to IATE, the ‘Select a saved request’ frame should be empty and the searches should function properly until a false string is recreated, in which case you will have to repeat the procedure. Or, hopefully, the IATE team will soon solve the problem.

For Firefox, do not use Windows Explorer. In the Firefox browser, go to Tools > Options > Privacy > Show Cookies. In the Search box type ‘iate’ (without the quotes) and Remove cookies with the iate name. Close and re-open Firefox.

I followed the procedure myself (on FireFox) and I can again access IATE, which is of course great news!



Permalink 10:29:35 am, Categories: For translation buyers, Spanish language & translation, 1147 words  

7 ways to have your message translated

1) Automatic (computer-generated) translation

Virtually every one of us has wondered at least once if computer-generated translation could be the ideal solution to our translation needs. After all, computers get more and more powerful and intelligent every day, so they must have figured this out by now, right? Well, actually, no. Language is intrinsically related to the human conscience and the human mind, with all its richness and complexity, nuances, double meanings, ambiguities... And computers have a long way to go before figuring all of this out. Of course, there is a certain measure of relativity in this. Granted, a computer will probably never be able to translate marketing or literature materials not even faintly close to adequately. However, for highly technical, very repetitive texts, the story would be somewhat different. But more on this later.

2) Translating in-house

Okay, so now that we established that computers will not address our translation needs adequately, we know that we need a real person to translate our materials. But wait a minute! My bilingual assistant is proficient in English and Spanish! She can translate for us, right?

Well, stop to think for a minute. Would you, for example, entrust your bilingual assistant with writing your company’s technical handbooks, even if he or she is proficient in English? Probably not. You would rather look for somebody who is a skilled technical writer. Similarly, unless your bilingual assistant happens to be a highly skilled linguist with specific training in translation, and a native speaker of your target language, you will do no favor to your company — or to your assistant for that matter — if you expect him or her to accomplish a task that he or she is not qualified to perform, such as professional translation.

3) The cheapest translation company we can find

I am starting to get upset with all of this. After all, translation should not be so complicated! Why, it is just taking English words and converting them into Spanish, French or German, nothing out of this world, right? We will just ask four different translation companies for translation quotes and go with the lowest offer. That should do just fine…

However interesting this option may sound, there is a high risk associated with it. Remember that your image, your message, and ultimately your bottom line are at stake here. A poor translation, even though it will cost less initially, can be the most expensive option. Think lost clients for lack of credibility, complaints or constant queries from your customers because they do not understand your target-language materials, or even worse, being sued by them because they got your message wrong and did something that caused them an injury or financial losses…

When you seriously look for quality, it is more likely that you will find it. If you are only looking for a low price, you are probably heading for disaster!

4) A top-notch freelance translator

In this case, we will do something else… We will just go without middle-men. Let’s do a search for a freelance translator, let’s choose the very best one, and we will save on commissions charged by translation companies.

Well, this can indeed be an interesting option if handled carefully and under some conditions. Freelance translators will often provide you with translation work only. Some of them will be able to provide desktop publishing services or translations in complex formats, others not. Depending on what you need (and if you only need translations into a couple of languages, which will be reasonably easy to handle by yourself), this can indeed be a good option, provided that the translator is really top-notch. High-quality translation providers pick their translators carefully, saving you a trial and error process that can require a great deal of time and resources. If you need reliable freelance translators for your projects, you will find a very good list of them here:

5) A reputed translation company
Hhhmmm… I think we should go with the safest option. Let’s just take one of the world’s leading translation companies. They will be able to address all of our needs, manage our multilingual projects effectively with little or no hassle for us, and they probably have highly qualified translators that they have selected carefully. It might be more expensive, but safer.

Great choice! And here I am to point you in the right direction: SDL International ( is one of the most reputed translation companies out there, well known for their high standards and responsiveness. A very safe option indeed.

6) A freelance translation network
More and more professional translators, faced with the ever-decreasing rates offered by many translation agencies, are teaming up to provide their services without intermediaries, which allows them to offer very affordable rates to the end clients (saving on administrative costs incurred by translation agencies) while earning a fair compensation for themselves. Many of these translation networks are very reliable and offer high-quality services through cooperation among their members, who are professional and skilled translators. Very often they can offer a range of services that is comparable to what translation agencies offer. is one of these freelance translation services networks, and it offers support for the most common world languages. Other networks specialize on a language or a couple of languages, such as JB Translations Spanish translation network.

7) Controlled language + automatic translation + human post-editing
What if you have tons of highly technical and repetitive texts? Isn’t there a way to cut costs in this case? There indeed is, and this is where computers come in to the rescue. If you would care to invest the necessary resources to train your staff in learning how to write in controlled English, you will actually be able to obtain the savings you are looking for. Controlled language in general consists of a set of rules entailing simplification and standardization of grammar and vocabulary, which help computers understand and translate the resulting texts more adequately. A system powered by machine translation and enhanced by a translation memory created specifically for your materials is used, and the output is then post-edited by professional translators who are trained for this kind of task, thus automating a good deal of the translation process and saving costs. You will find more information about this on this translation article: Companies such as SDL International can help you throughout this process, from training your staff in controlled languages to creating your translation memory to post-editing the machine-translated output.

Whatever the option you end up choosing for your translations, hopefully this post will have been a useful resource to help you find the solution that fits your needs best, and especially to help you reach your target audience with a clear and polished message that conveys the right image about your company.


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