Translating Climate Change: thoughts on the occasion of International Translation Day 2018

By Claudia Brauer | Versión en español aquí

My core message today is this: It is time to make climate change a priority in the translation industry and it is time to make translation a priority in the climate change discourse.

We have thousands of millions of individuals who need to receive life-changing data, information vital to their survival and the subsistence of their communities, and they might not be receiving it simply due to a language barrier. We need to remove this obstacle. We need to engage the language community and the leaders of efforts in the resolution of climate change issues. We need to empower local communities with information they can understand so they can take action.

A January 2018 blog by Morningside Translations on The Role of Translation in Fighting Climate Change talks about the vital role of translation and clearly states that “multilingual dissemination of research has become an increasingly critical factor in keeping people alive.” They further comment on the need not only to understand and convey meaning in the language of the recipients but also to understand “their intrinsic cultural perspectives, economics, and politics — which are critical for convincing local populations to implement changes.” From this blog, I also discovered that “there is even an emerging academic field called Ecolinguistics that investigates the role of language in the development and possible solution of ecological and environmental problems.” This is wonderful news for translators and linguists who would like to specialize in this new domain!

And it is also vital for the thousands of millions of people on earth who communicate in languages other than the “standard” languages we are so comfortably translating now. Any worldwide solution on the ground does require us to communicate in their national language or, better yet, their local dialect

Photo credit: Minna Sundberg as it appears in Stephen R. Anderson’s article
How many languages are there in the world?” published by the Linguistic Society of America.

Lets now look at some statistics to make sure we understand the dimensions of the language conundrum. We, the “English/Spanish/French/Italian/German-centric” cultures, have really not much coverage worldwide, population-wise. For starters, just Arabic (270 million) and Bengali (170 million) speakers combined to surpass the number of English speakers. Why are global climate change documents not translated consistently into Arabic or Bengali?

But that is just the tip of the iceberg. About 1,000 million people speak Chinese-Mandarin. The 2nd most-spoken language in the world is Hindi, with some 500 million people, followed by Spanish, with 400 million and in the 4th place is English, with about 360 million.

This means that if we take all the English (360 million) speakers and all the Spanish (400 million) and the French (270 million), plus all the Italian (100 million), and the German (70 million), plus the Portuguese (220 million), Dutch (30 million) and Polish (40 million)and we put all of them together we still would barely start to reach the number of speakers of Chinese-Mandarin (1,000+ million) and Hindi (500 million).

Image credit: “Translation of the WGI AR5 Summary for Policymakers” by the WMO Language, Conference and Publishing Services Department.

In 2013, the WMO/UNEP Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) did produce the above document in some of the widely spoken languages. This deserves recognition because it represents the type of efforts that the entire “Climate Change” community should be focusing on.

In general, we are busy covering just a fraction of the world’s 7,000 languages. If we translated all our materials into all the 10 languages mentioned previously in this post, we would still be reaching just above 1/3 of the population of earth. So, even in this “ideal” scenarios where we translate everything into the 10 most spoken languages, there are almost 5,000 million people “left behind”.

And where are these excluded individuals located?

NASA’s Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) hosts a web page with some very interesting information by IPCC in terms of interactive maps and data on climate sensitivity and global distribution of vulnerability to climate change. It clearly shows some of these regions in danger to be located exactly where we have many of these untranslated languages and dialects. For starters, I am thinking of many parts of Africa and Asia, and even regions of Latin America where Spanish is not a mother tongue.

Source: DW

As a final note, on the upper end of the translation spectrum, there is a growing need for highly specialized translators in totally new fields of human knowledge, such as Paleoclimatology. Geoengineering, Ocean Acidification, Greenhouse Gases, Keeling Curve, and Carbon Footprint, to name but a few. Organizations such as TJC, which proudly offers “Global Warming Interpreters and Translators Worldwide” should be supported and imitated. Kudos! (P.S.: No, I have nothing to do with them or their work, but found it commendable.)

I will, therefore, close with my opening statement:

It is time to make climate change a priority in the translation industry and it is time to make translation a priority in the climate change discourse.

About UN CC:Learn

UN CC:Learn is a partnership of more than 30 multilateral organizations supporting countries to design and implement systematic, recurrent and results-oriented climate change learning. Through its engagement at the national and global levels, UN CC:Learn contributes to the implementation of climate change training, education and public awareness-raising.

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DeepL MT, a game-changer for professional translators

On September 25, as part of the Proz.com celebration of International Translation Day 2018, I will present “Learn DeepL MT for beginners” (go to https://hubs.ly/H0dP7wp0). All sessions sponsored by ProZ.com on the 25th and the 26th are FREE to all participants.

I believe that at present, DeepL is one of the best tools available for translators. My presentation therefore centers on the mechanics of the platform and I shows you how easy it is to use. As with any tool translators may use, confidentiality of client’s information should always be a priority.

This platform uses Deep-Learning Neural Machine Translation. NMT uses a “large artificial neural network to predict the likelihood of a sequence of words, typically modeling entire sentences in a single integrated model.”  Deep learning NMT “processes multiple neural network layers instead of just one. It is a a completely new generation of artificial neural networks that … learn to grasp the subtle meanings of sentences,and conveys them in the target language in a way not seen before.”

I am recommending the use of this platform and API integration because I have found it to produce quality draft translations that are more fluent than other MTs while productivity may be doubled, tripled or more. It is very intuitive and extremely easy to use. Additionally, it relies on EU-level privacy protocols. At present it only services English, Spanish, German, French, Dutch, Italian and Polish, but they are expanding languages.

Come join us on the 25th and learn the mechanics of DeepL and other interesting tricks related to MT, plus enjoy all the other sessions offered for FREE by ProZ.com.

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As part of the study materials I will be distributing, I will share some of my Quality Guidelines for Human-Quality PEMT (Post Editing of Machine Translation Output).

This is what I believe a Human-Quality PEMT should achieve:

Purpose:

·      Accurate (preserve intended meaning of the original)

·      Correct grammar, syntax, style

·      Correct in formal aspects of written language

·      Sensitive to regional variations (dialects and target language use)

·      Written (mostly) in plainlanguage

·      Culturally and Linguistically appropriate (terms and expressions must be understood appropriately and consistently by most people reading text in TL)

·      Follow glossaries when provided

·      Follow style guides when provided

·      Avoid literal translation (too formal, complicated, awkward texts, though semantically equivalent)

·      Aim for “comparable constructs”

Information:

  • Complete (no omissions, additions or changes)
  • Loyal (same message is conveyed)
  • Accurate (same information transferred)
  • Reliable
  • Consistent
  • Technical equivalence (technically and conceptually)
  • Conceptual equivalence (content) (Does it accurately reflect original meaning?)
  • Intent (Have connotations and denotations been transferred)

Essentials

  • Grammar (system and structure of language)
  • Style (word choice, point of view, tone, + syntax)
  • Syntax (rules governing sentence structure, including word order, to achieve particular effects)
  • Semantics (sense, reference, implication, logical form, word relations, cognitive structure)
  • Register (level of formality)
  • Readability Level (easier or more difficult to read)
  • Format and Layout (including document setup, arrangement, charts, graphics, illustrations)
  • Spelling
  • Punctuation
  • Capitalization

Correct and optimal use of language:

  • Language conventions
  • Dates
  • Numbers
  • Addresses
  • Acronyms (transfer)
  • Abbreviations
  • Names of people
  • Names of countries and places
  • Brand names

Others issues to ensure:

  • Fluency
  • Phrasing
  • Nuances
  • Absence of False cognates
  • Cultural Sensitivity (will it make sense to target audience or will it create confusion or concern)

Other recommendations:

CONSTANTLY COMPARE MACHINE TRANSLATION PLATFORMS

  • Select three or four to compare
  • Obtain translations
  • Review each individually
  • Compare changes
  • Select preferred
  • Repeat every three or four months (new or improved versions)

Rating

5         Excellent

4         Correct

3         Enhance

2         Doubtful

1         Incomprehensible

or

5         Top human translation quality equivalence

4         Normal HT equivalence

3         Beginner HT equivalency

2         Misinterpretations

1         Gross Errors

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Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 7.53.00 PM

Join my free session on DeepL Machine Translation on Sept 25 to celebrate Int’l Translation Day sponsored by ProZ.com @prozcom livestream #ProZTV  https://proz.com/tv/ITD2018 

Scrum Master? What the heck is that?!

[Image credit: Varunm.com]

I was looking at my LinkedIn feed and happened to see a paid advertisement from a job site looking for a “Scrum Master.”  It caught my attention because I had absolutely no idea what a Scrum Master was! In a “previous life” (several decades ago) I was a project manager, so my surprise was double when I found out they defined it as NOT being a Project Manager. Well, I would have not even thought that PM had any relationship with SM.  Scrum Master sounded like something in the Healthcare Industry…… well, it is not. From the website TechTarget, I have learned that

“… a scrum master is a facilitator for an agile development team. Scrum is a methodology that allows a team to self-organize and make changes quickly, in accordance with agile principles.”

So, you might say:
–Why would translators and interpreters care?
I would respond:
–Really? Do you need to ask?

First, we need to be aware of what is going on in the world, and in the world of business in particular. Terminology is part of our lifeline.

Second, “Scrum Master” talks to the dramatic changes occurring in the business world itself. The concept of “agile development teams” is central to this new profession.  I guess Project Managers are so 20th century! Think about that. The term agile development  has very specific connotations related to the shift of power to the “product owner.” Think about that. The “product owner” has the say.

Additionally, the Scrub Master “is not held accountable for outcomes. The team as a whole is responsible for outcomes.”  What a concept, eh? No more “leaders” solely responsible for outcomes but the team as a whole.  Sports kind of got that notion from the get-go.

There is an entire methodology around “agile development.”  Because agility has come to the forefront of how we do things in the 21st century. That is why the entire business model of translation and interpreting needs to be re-thought.  Because, as it stands, it is anything BUT agile. I see some companies struggling to understand how to best render services in an interconnected digital world. That is a good start, but we need to move fast.

One thing is clear: we must become “Agile Organizations” (full disclosure: my company is NOT!… yet).  Those of us who are not AGILE enough to “sprint” (yes, a term with a new connotation too) have a larger chance of falling behind. As we look at the business models we have been using for the past 50 years and try to make them AGILER, we must also accept that certain processes will no longer be needed, new strengths have to be developed, and new delivery mechanisms are urgently required.

Parenthesis: Freelance translators and interpreters: we are micro-enterprises. We, too, need to change our business model to adapt to the times. I don’t have the answers.  I have no idea what is best and what is not, except to know that we MUST BECOME TECH-SAVVY A.S.AP.! That should be our priority right now as freelancers. This becoming tech-savvy translators and interpreters is just a basic step to be able to “participate” in the language industry of the future (the very near future, by the way).

I  believe we have an expiration date if we don’t change soon.

What think you?

 

Interpreters 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).

Google Books


Meisner acting

Good actors make us suspend disbelief and see THROUGH them the character that they are portraying. We see those “other” human beings (they portray) in all their strength and frailty because the actors are able to get themselves “out of the way” and BECOME a true conduit of the thoughts and feelings of the character they portray.
Good actors, therefore, achieve selfless results (i.e., we see “another” instead of the actor) by developing total EMPATHY for their character. So too, it is my belief, that we, as interpreters, are conduits for the expression of another’s words and feelings. In that sense, it is too little to ask that we “simply” convey words.  We MUST convey the words in total accuracy, but we must ALSO convey the thoughts and feelings that are attached to those words. EMPATHY allows us to do so, or at least to try our best.  It is this human-ness that will indeed separate us from the likes of bilingual Siris!

In accordance with the website “Skillsyouneed.com“:

Empathy is, at its simplest, awareness of the feelings and emotions of other people. It is a key element of Emotional Intelligence, the link between self and others, because it is how we as individuals understand what others are experiencing as if we were feeling it ourselves

Three Types of Empathy

Psychologists have identified three types of empathy: cognitive empathy, emotional empathy and compassionate empathy.

  • Cognitive empathy is understanding someone’s thoughts and emotions, in a very rational, rather than emotional sense.
  • Emotional empathy is also known as emotional contagion, and is ‘catching’ someone else’s feelings, so that you literally feel them too.
  • Compassionate empathy is understanding someone’s feelings, and taking appropriate action to help.

So, how do we develop EMPATHY?  There are many techniques and exercises.  I found some very interesting by Martha Beck, appropriately called The Empathy Workout:

[Excerpts]
EXERCISE 1: LEARNING TO LISTEN
…start with conversation. Once a day, ask a friend, “How are you?” in a way that says you mean it. If they give you a stock answer (“Fine”), repeat the question: “No, really. How are you?”   You’ll soon realize that if your purpose is solely to understand, rather than to advise or protect, you can work a kind of magic: In the warmth of genuine caring, people open up like flowers….

EXERCISE 2: REVERSE ENGINEERING
Some mechanical engineers spend their time disassembling machines to see how they were originally put together. You can use a similar technique to develop empathy, by working backward from the observable effects of emotion to the emotion itself.  Think of someone you’d like to understand…Remember a recent interaction… Now imitate, as closely as you can, the physical posture, facial expression, exact words, and vocal inflection they used during that encounter. Notice what emotions arise within you. What you feel will probably be very close to whatever the other person was going through…

EXERCISE 3: SHAPE-SHIFTING
In folklore, shape-shifters are beings with the ability to become anyone or anything. As a child, I was fascinated by this concept and used to pretend that I could instantaneously switch places with other people, animals, even inanimate objects… I recommend you try it, soon. See that strange man in the orange polyester suit putting 37 packets of sweetener into his extra-grande mochaccino with soy milk? What if—zap!—you suddenly switched bodies with him? What would it be like to wear that suit, that face, that physique? What impulse would lead to sugaring a cup of coffee like that, let alone drinking it?

EXERCISE 4: METTA-TATION
World-class empathizers…conduct a daily regimen of metta, or lovingkindness, meditation. This involves focusing all of one’s attention on a certain individual and offering loving wishes to that person with each breath you take, for several minutes at a time. Classic metta practice starts with your own sweet self. For five minutes, with each breath, offer yourself kind thoughts… Then switch the focus of your kind thoughts onto a friend or family member. When you feel a sense of emotional union with that person, target someone you barely know….


ACTION ITEM:  Give it a try!

Remote Interpreting: The Elephant in the Room (by Barry Olsen)

Remote Interpreting: Feeling Our Way into the Future Published by The ATA Chronicle New communications technologies make interpreting available where it wasn’t in the past. We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shape the way we will work remotely, because what’s going on is game changing and shaking our profession from top to bottom. In April […]

via Remote Interpreting: The Elephant in the Room — A Word In Your Ear

What a Difference Three Decades Make!

Preamble for translators and interpreters: Maybe (just maybe) machines will not replace “all” human translators and interpreters, but all of us will be replaced by some language experts using the latest technologies. It is therefore paramount to play catchup and get on-board with actions to become technologically savvy without delay!

I recently read an 11/29/17 Washington Post Article by Marwa Eltagouiri about an 84-year-old physician who lost her license to practice medicine because she refuses to use a computer, thus failing to comply with New Hampshire State Law on medical record-keeping protocols. In reality, the case centers more around the opioid epidemic and this physician’s inability to meet the State’s electronic drug monitoring program regulations. Whatever the situation, the entire case goes to underline the “electronic” (vs. paper) component that is clearly at the heart of the issue. Regardless of what the physician believes, it is now the law to keep electronic records. That is how fast the world has moved forward in ascertaining the cyberspace as the “factual” space, as well as modern technologies as the underpinning supports for some interactions.

Although some discussions are still going on as to whether doctors have it “better” or “worse” today as a result of this technological revolution, such disagreements are do not change the fact that things “are” what they are.

Just 30 years ago –which, in historical terms, is a short period– the National Institutes of Health via NCBI still wondered if doctors had a positive or negative attitude towards computers! From those “opinion pieces,” we now see ourselves working in a world completely different from the one for which most “older” physicians were preparing 30 or 40 years ago. Everyone in the healthcare and medical fields has had to “suffer” through a very steep technology-learning curve, especially in the last two decades. In 1999 I was working at a large insurance company that employed many nurses and doctors, and I remember all of them saying they would never -ever!- use computers.

Life is not a straight line. At the end of the last century (Wow! that sounds like a long time ago!), we were implementing (*) Y2K conformity requirements, (*) the newly instituted HIPAA provisions (or equivalent efforts in other parts of the world), and (*) the novel C.L.A.S. mandate (and other cultural competency efforts around the globe). In the last 15-20 years, these monumental programs were incorporated into our routine and are now a “mainstream” aspect of our daily life.

My point, then, is that our “way of life” –our daily activities as we perceive them today– is a concept that must be re-evaluated constantly as internal and external forces change and shape it into something different than what we were “used to” just a few years ago. The rate of innovation brought about by the accelerated developments in available technologies is speeding up such rate of change. I look at my grandkids, and all of them were born after Y2K. Even for my adult children, the Cold War is a remote history lesson. Yesterday, TCM showed a movie from my youth and talked about the cinematographic importance of this “classic.” Statistically speaking, a hundred years ago I would have been dead already for a couple decades, as life expectancy for women did not even reach 40 years old!

We must at all times be aware of our surroundings, which includes perceiving, understanding, and adapting to the technological changes (extraordinary and progressive) going on around us!

Aug 6 – Easy & Fun Project Management

Aug 6 – Easy & Fun Project Management for the Freelancer in the 21st Century

Click here to register for this Live Webianar via ProZ.com

This hands-on experience allows you to learn simple techniques that make the process of organizing your work a FUN activity instead of a tedious chore.

Are you always struggling to deliver your work on time with the highest quality? Have you avoided seeking or receiving large projects because you feel intimidated? Would you like to be more productive and have some peace of mind? Then don’t miss learning this easy and fun way of managing your projects as a freelancer.

project management

Big projects may be your wish in terms of income, but they can become overwhelming. Even small projects may be intimidating if we have too many of them and don’t know how to prioritize the work. And then there is all the other “stuff” you never have time to tackle, like improving your billing or filing systems to be more productive. Acquire easy to use tools that help you be your own nagging boss, that allow you to have a clear picture of how to run the project and how it should look once it is finished, and to estimate the time needed for completion. All this while having fun!
Follow the link attached!
This 90-minute hands-on workshop provides simple and fun ways to manage your projects. At the completion of the workshop you will have acquired a fail-safe method of organizing your workload, by setting up a repeatable process, learning to focus on the essential aspects of your job, and helping you acquire skills to set reasonable priorities as well as long-term goals.