Benefits of Bilingualism

There have been  several  studies done lately on the benefits of bilingualism. What  was once was an opposed idea of raising bilingual children,  it is now  said to be found beneficial. I have found three articles ” The Benefits of Bilingualism” and   “The Benefits of Being Bilingual”    and finally  a study  done in 2004 Being Bilingual Boosts Brain Power whereby they actually study the brains of bilingual patients and researched the density of the brain.  Per the result of the study, depending on the age that the person became bilingual,  the denser the gray matter. The earlier you became bilingual, the more  matter and hence more function. In all three articles and studies the results have been quite equal; that in effect bilinguals do have more cognitive power.   Being brought up bilingual and trilingual, I would have guessed otherwise. From a personal standpoint, I tended to (and still do on occasion) to “code switch” which prevented me from sticking to one idea , thought or expression.  Yet, it is precisely that according to the studies, that boosts your brain because since both languages are always active, they need to keep them separate and focus on just one. This in turn, keeps your brain stimulated and always active forcing to focus on a task. This is particularly important in my line of work now. Given that I did tend  to ‘ switch”  from one language to another , you are more conscious of it and therefore aware of how to verbalize it in one. You are always with the “thinking cap” on.

There are of course the obvious benefits of better communication and understanding of cultures and in an increased globalized world your opportunities just increase and expand. Personally  this has been the case. Long before I became a translator and long before the requirement of being bilingual(because if you are not bilingual in Miami, your chances of employment decrease dramatically), I always had the upper-hand because I had the three languages under my belt. Given that I always had lived in Latin-America and had command of the cultural aspect as well, most of my positions were secured because of that fact. So there was always an added plus to that because you were able to conduct business and be the mediator in a transaction. And in  this highly globalized world, where although most still conduct transactions in English it is not now the only language of business.

Finally, being brought up bilingual  and living abroad most of my life has given me a broader outlook and experiences that has led me to my current profession. I don’t believe I could do it as well as I do, had I above all , not experienced the cultural aspect. As we all agree with , translation is not only about just being bilingual.

10 Productivity Resources Used in Business

There are several tools and software applications that  have helped me  become more productive in my business.  This post will discuss a few of these resources  and how they can increase  your productivity. I would have named this post “A Practical Resource  Guide ” but I have one with that name. Anyhow, the  following is my personal  resource guide list that covers  many areas from resources to software and finally to  social media.

Evernote   (evernote.com)

The one the tops the list of resources  for me because of its many, many uses is Evernote.

I have been using Evernote since March 2011 and I would say that I could not imagine working without it anymore.  t is in effect a note – taking software but it doe also have many uses such as organizing, bookmarking and clipping useful information from websites. This is where I store all of my online dictionaries/glossaries , marketing ideas, blogging notes tagged by subject and by notebooks. It has a wonderful feature where you can share the notebooks(folders)with another user. It is a great feature when working in a team project where you can share or email your files with fellow translators. I recommend it fully.

Awesome Screenshot http://awesomescreeshot.com

This is a  Firefox, Chrome or Safari add-on that allows you to capture portions of text, highlight , circle, annotate or underline material so you can share and email. This works well when you are proofreading and correcting material without altering the original content. Again if you are working on a group project with other translators it is a way of suggesting ideas without altering the original content. It also allows you to gray out sensitive information when you email. It reminds me of the methods used before computers. To me there is still something about circles, arrows and side notes that I find helpful. This is a way of doing that.

Dropbox    https://www.dropbox.com/

This is a remote server application that allows you to take your files with you and access whenever needed. When you upload this file it downloads under the “My Documents”folder . When you work remotely you drag the files needed into Dropbox file  and  access them from the their website . I have used it sparingly  I must admit but do see its benefit. I got used to my thumb drive or memory stick with a little added security that I am still in control of my files. Given that they are saved in a remote server when you upload, the idea of someone else having my information gets me a bit uneasy.

Gist (CRM)   http://gist.com/


This Customer Resource Management tool is the one I use for all my contacts and updates. It is a hub where you can integrate Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, Google Calendar, Outlook and soon Linked-in (you can upload contacts but not automatically).  I have used it for over two years now and although I do love it because it does keep everything about your contacts together, it lacks in many ways too such as a follow-up feature. Yet it searches Google for everything about the contact and for marketing purposes this is great. The shared contacts is great too so as to see which other people they know that you may have in your database. It is a free service and web-based so there is no download. I am still waiting for the upgrade so as to have the full integration with Linked-in and follow-up feature.

WordWeb– A Windows-based dictionary (monolingual) that serves a quick reference for a particular word. There are many others just check out http://www.dicts.info/offline2.php

Wordfinder http://www.wordfinder.com/ Allows look up in various dictionary resources from any Windows-based tool and on the other hand IntelliWebSearch  http://www.intelliwebsearch.com/ does the same although it searches internet resources and offline as well.

Yet just yesterday I stumbled upon TransTools Suite http://www.translatortools.net for Word and all the Microsoft programs and although they had been around since 2007, I had not used their services at all. By what I read is integrates fully with TRADOS  and Wordfast. I will do my research on this one and although it seems straightforward I will have to check that one out.

Friendfeed  friendfeed.com

Ping.fm ping.fm

Finally, one of my marketing efforts is using social media to promote my blogs and my website because of the most difficult things to do is to drive traffic to both. So you have to find ways to promote them all over the internet. I use Twitter and Facebook ( I have a fan page and link my blog there) extensively for this but that cannot be the only areas. Using bookmarking sites, like  Digg, Reddit, Delicious, Stumbleupon can help you get your site read my many, many people. However, that also depends on the followers you  have so truly the first thing will be to begin participating and th contributing to these sites,  and like Twitter, people will begin to follow . I had opened these accounts back in 2008 but abandoned them for a while and as yo have seen people are fickle, if you are not contributing they  drop you quite quickly. So this is where these internet aggregator like Friendfeed and Ping.fm are useful. When you use Friendfeed, you link all your accounts like Twitter and all the accounts you belong to, and when you update an account you update ALL which reduces time.  I read a blog post one day that summed it all with these two: You update with Ping.fm but you receive all updates through Friendfeed and that is the difference between the two.

STAR TRANSIT and TRADOS Compared

It has been some time since my last post but I had been quite busy with a project that to me seemed eternal. Yet,through the experience I was able to gather quite a bit of information to use in this blog post. Given the highly technical matter of the project, I had to research for CAT tools that would help me get this project done effectively and efficiently. I generally don’t use CAT tools( my specialty is in marketing) but this job warranted it. Therefore, there were two that I looked into for the completion of this project: STAR TRANSIT and TRADOS. I ended up using the latter, but to those not familiar with TRANSIT (as I was),this is a brief overview and comparison of both programs.

It is no surprise as to why agencies now require you to know TM software TRADOS for most of the projects(an although this job did not come through an agency), it is the one most requested followed by Wordfast. But what has made TRADOS the leader? With its large capacity of storing information, its large terminology base, its easy integration with Word and PowerPoint,its easy conversion of dates, measurements,and ease of use has made this software the industry leader in CAT tools. TRADOS which is particularly designed for highly technical translations because of its large capacity to store information and ability to populate repetitive content, you can clearly run through these translations quite efficiently and accurately. In addition, with its terminology feature you surely can cut large part of your research in half. Yet, it must be said that it does mean that you develop these terminology databases and translation memories by your own translation work; however, once you have these memories stored,you can populate the term, phrase, or sentence again and eventually save time in the long run. So I still had to do quite a bit of research and have many specialized glossaries and dictionaries handy in the translation process but once it is saved on memory, they populate easily in your translation.

STAR TRANSIT on the other hand, is a very complex and difficult to use program yet with the added benefits of the ability to import large amounts of translation memories from other systems (including TRADOS), as well as the ability to use THEIR existing translation memory (at a price) which can be useful if the information they have is relevant to the subject you are translating, so one has to see how extensive and valuable it can be to you. It also has extensive dictionary (Term Star), which can be incorporated into the CAT tool or used as a stand-alone feature. Yet its setup, layout,and overall function is not as friendly as TRADOS. It also has a very annoying feature to me- the pop-up window- whenever it finds a word in the memory or suggests one for you, it pops up on-screen. This feature can be tuned off yet as you are translating you want to be efficient as well so the pop up suggests and populates it, while in TRADOS it is populated automatically. Overall, it is designed for very precise, technical translations. (aviation and mechanics). Which in essence these are the biggest users of this translation memory. Furthermore, unlike TRADOS where you see the source text and target text side by side, in TRANSIT it is a split screen where source text in the upside of the screen and target downside of screen. To me this could possibly add to missed  translated text. Yet for editing large amounts of text,I do see the reasoning behind the split screen. It becomes easier to correct line by line text when you are translating intricate , technical material that needs to be precise and accurate. Personally, it is more intuitive to me to have both texts side by side. For this reason, should I ever do a technical translation again, I would say I lean towards TRADOS.

How Are You Using Social Media To Promote Yourself?

I have been away for awhile and I feel I have neglected my blog completely. It is very telling through my stats that it needed some work again and get the momentum that it had before. In due time, I will  pick up the pace.

Yesterday I attended a social media seminar and how to use the new mediums to promote yourself and your business, and it  kept me thinking how many of us are using it, using it effectively, or not using it at all. You will be surprised how  many in the group still resisted the idea of using Twitter and other social media for that matter. It just got me thinking that if these people don’t get on the program many will become irrelevant and their business will suffer. There is not a person nowadays that does not have a smartphone with them. If they are not current how will they be reached or even visible to the public for that matter.  Although there are many applications out there, I don’t use all of them either and it is not because I have not liked to; but because I did too many that I eventually had to do away with a few. When you are in too many social networks and link each and every account,that becomes a bit  of an overkill. I did this in the beginning and found out that my tweets were duplicating or even triplicating across  the networks.  That could irritate  anybody!

So, I stuck with the Big Three and it has given me the best results. As of now Twitter and Linkedin seem to have reaped the most benefits to me. By posting relevant material and important links I have found to have a relevant following on Twitter and  now after many months they are turning into professional connections. Of all the social media sites Linkedin to me is the most professional and allows you to fully connect with others in the field. By using groups and fully participating in them, I have gotten wonderful resources and  information for my business.  I have reached the maximum of 50 groups and although it does become a challenge to read through all  the email, I do take the time to read and participate. Lastly, my Facebook page  that although still small, has been getting some ground. This is where my followers  receive my blog posts and other resources I find useful.  I love the idea of the page because you are able to show yourself as a professional but be a little social too and interact with your followers. What I did find challenging at first was to engage conversation and have others comment on my links. That seems to be changing now.

Now with Google + I still have got to get the handle on that one but in yesterday’s seminar they did mention the importance of  Google Places. If you do have an existing physical location, you can claim a page in Google Places and   they will map it and when someone looks for your type of business in a given area, they rank you not by keywords like before, but by the number of reviews and good reviews you have. Even if you are not with the specified area  just by the number of reviews you rank highly in the search. These reviews act as a  testimonial of sorts the ones we love to have on our website . We would love to have those as well on our Google Places page . As a freelancer, I did not see how that going to help me really, I work from a laptop (the beauty of our business) but if you do establish an office at some point, maybe this would be the thing to do. Ask the clients who normally rave about your work to write a couple of reviews on your business and see your name  rise quite quickly in the search engines.

I will definitely look into it.

I Will Try Again Tomorrow

When I thought about writing my last post of the year, I thought whether it should be about business or our industry. I would like to take a bit of a break  from that today I do believe the day itself is about  reflection and future plans. Today we make our  goals in the hope of a fresh start.   Many get achieved and many do fall short (we all made those New Year resolutions haven’t we?) but I do believe that everyone has it their heart  to truly change  and accomplish we just simply don’t have a path.  This is where you continue to push to pave your way. It is all about persistence and will . It truly does  come down to that.  I take inspiration on those that under  horrible circumstances have achieved the impossible.   They gave themselves no excuses but to continue to press on. I do speak  for myself here, I don’t know how many times I have sabotaged my plans and myself making excuses for not achieving them. Yet there seems to be a time that this type of behavior does get old  because we are  older  we feel the passage of time . I value it now and  there is no time for excuses anymore.  With that  our plans and goals get more defined and our urgency to achieve them gets more intense. Yet, there is always time for new beginnings and do hope that your is now.  I would like to end here with a quote by Mary Ann Radmacher :
“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.”

Happy New Year everyone!!

But before I leave I would like to take this opportunity  to thank the many of you who in a very short time have made this blog quite a bit of a  success. I never thought that in only five posts I would have had so many responses (through Likedin and comments) and views to my blog, much less being re tweeted  several times over. ( This is quite amazing given that it takes several months and many posts to get  your site noticed). When I thought of blogging for my business, I thought it would be quite a daunting task given that ideas for writing surely don’t come easy at all, but I have manged to keep up with the industry insights and have put my take on these issues.  I do hope to keep up this  trend  and not to believe that it was “beginners luck”.

I do hope you continue reading.

Crowdsourcing: Who Truly Benefits?

It seems that I follow quite the same path as other bloggers about the same issues tackling our industry. Yet, this one to me is the  most troubling simply because out of  MT, TM, and other advances affecting the industry the simple fact of supplying our expertise and ability on a volunteer basis, drives me a little crazy. What drives me crazier still is that here no one questions it. I have researched and read extensively on crowd sourcing, and all I could find was how it benefited the business community by saving them time and money; yet in all the articles I have read they did not mention  how it benefited the  translator . Surely the experience, but what these companies recruit are at some level (not all) specialists in their field , or end users of a product or service (mainly in software and computer applications) that know particularly well on the subject. For this reason, I find that the true winners here are the companies recruiting such volunteers. Yet, the idea behind crowd sourcing is the effort of collaboration and the know how these volunteers have on the subject. There have been two sides to this, because it can have wonderful results or less than average ones too. I found this video on YouTube and found it interesting on the pitfalls of crowd sourcing.

The reasoning behind it is completely understandable. The internet  has  grown at such a rapid rate that the demand for immediate information is key. Part of the reason why most of these machine translation services sprung up as well.  With the number of websites , social media sites, software applications and cellphone apps, there is such a demand for quick information that not even half  of the demand could be translated manually  much less the  information that is passing through our fingertips without us being aware of.  However, because of this as professionals we  should be at an advantage point and we are not.  As businesses  become more global, they  have found a short cut by implementing this idea to cut costs with higher output and immediacy. What was once done by one employee and possibly took  days to complete, they gather a group of people  (through an open call) many of these  volunteers or through a highly reduced rate to translate this information. Since translation is group based, many different ideas are discussed within the group to bring out the best output.  This is where most of these companies benefit from crowd sourcing. Software applications and programs are the first to benefit as  does the end user. There is  something to be noted here, that although crowd sourcing can be beneficial in one area it also depends on the level of collaboration and the level of expertise of the volunteer. (Maybe that is a good business defense).  Social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Linked in are all using crowd sourcing to translate their sites for free and by many accounts with many disastrous results. Yet, the incentive to reduce costs is the most enticing factor here.

Like MT sites like Google Translate and Yahoo Babel Fish, there are crowd sourcing sites as well.  Sites like  #Translate Answers , Cucumis and  Lang8 are for those who seek a a quick translation to an answer they seek or to perfect a translation they already have. Duolingo  like Lang8 is another site that sells the crowd sourcing idea  in that premise -by using it as a language learning website.

I understand that not everything in life is money but if you ( (as a large corporation) are recruiting your group for the best output of your service or product, then it should be compensated. I do believe in volunteerism but to me I would do that for particular social causes , organizations, and  non-profits  who ultimately are working for a “greater good” and that output is so much better than any other compensation. Organizations like Translators Without Borders is a great example of this. I have actually applied with them to help NGO’s around the world . Yet other organizations such as Global Voices Online and UN Volunteering Service   have used crowd sourcing as well for the same principle.

In conclusion, crowd sourcing as we know it will only continue to grow. As the demand grows, so will the necessity and the immediacy of its information. This idea is only a feasible when there is large collaboration, and someone willingness to help translate . In my opinion, without any incentive  why would any one continue?

A Practical Reference Guide for Translators

As a translator, one of the most  consuming tasks is not the translation itself but the research involved. In many cases it is the most mundane but important information that takes hours. I have compiled a list of references that has helped me throughout my translation processes. Some are generalized references and others I compiled when I had to do a specific translation. In no particular order they are:

ACRONYMS

ACRONYMA

www.acronyma.com

This application does not translate the acronym for you, actually none of them do. Yet,  it give you in a particular language what the acronym stands for. I generally do a Google advance search for the translation of the term. I find this one quite complete.

ACRONYM FINDER

www.acronymfinder.com

This application only provides acronyms in English but it does provides them in a wide range of fields. I use Acronyma and this one together  to get the most accurate definition.

CONVERSION TABLES

UNIT CONVERTER

www.metric-conversions.org

A useful website for temperature, weight, and unit (metric converter).  Very simple website for basic number conversions.

CURRENCY CONVERTER

Bloomberg

Yahoo

COUNTRIES OF THE WORLD

www.geographic.org

Fact finder, statistical data by country and year, maps and country profile among other information.  A good resource. The site does look rather simplistic and general but it is quite resourceful. It is good place to start.

IDIOMS

www.idiomizer.com/idioms/

I found this site to be quite interesting. Once you register for free you can search by language pair the equivalent idiom. If you search by  English  alone , it gives you the explanation of the idiom itself. Just another resource to keep handy. You may also add and contribute your own.

And finally..

REFERENCE

www.reference.net

A good list of reference  lists in every subject that you may need. Useful and comprehensive.

And there you have them. I could elaborate more , but I do believe that many of them are self explanatory. I understand that they are quite unrelated, but to me these is the information that take some time to research (or find good resources any way).


Machine Translation Will Not Replace A Specialized Translator

Hello, it has been a few days but with the Thanksgiving holiday and other commitments I was unable to write. I see that my last post is still generating traffic so I don’t want to lose momentum. These last few days I have been reading about Facebook’s translation tool through the search engine Bing and by all accounts has fallen flat in its results. This led me to write about machine translation and if it ever will replace human translation. I know that there have been many discussions on this subject but it continues to generate a buzz. Every time we mention this topic most of us grow concerned about the future of our profession and how it has hindered our position in the market. Although there have been shifts in it, there is still in my viewpoint, ways to go before machine translation can be perfected. It is true that more and more companies, agencies and other businesses are resorting to MT to reduce costs; the results of these translations are less than desirable and still need human editing. This is exactly the point of this essay. If they are to be “edited” or most of the time redone from scratch, are we then truly replaceable?

So far that has not been the case. Although we as translators have learned to use this technology as a tool it is not a replacement for our ability. I do believe that if a translation is done right, the gist, the analysis, and thought process that goes into it cannot possibly be done by a machine. Also, translation for me is somewhat of an art (we are writers after all) how you phrase, analyze and use your words are uniquely to you. For example, you may have two translations of the same text side by side, both correct and true to the original but both with their own unique style. This is what is absent in machine translated text and although it gets edited by a translator, the gist of it gets lost in the process. It is true that a machine can spit out a translation in billionths of a second and for us this would take a bit longer to produce, yet it is the end result that counts.

Given that machine translation is here and improvements to its software get more perfected, there are still fields which could never replace a specialized translator; those are law, literature, medical and marketing. These are highly specialized fields with very precise language and in literary work and marketing there is still a creative, analytical and interpretation component to the writing that is no match for a Google Translate or Yahoo Babel Fish. Actually, the more you specialize within these fields the more in demand you become. Conversely, the more generalized your specialty the more of an “editor” you are likely to become too. That is how you position yourself to become more marketable.

Finally, I would like to add from my personal experience so far, directing my service to clients rather than agencies has been of course of greater value. I use machine translation as a tool. It just won’t replace me.

5 Bilingual Data Resources That Work With Your CAT Tool.

The use of translation memories has become somewhat of a standard in our industry. If you work for agencies they are now expecting that you at least have a command of TRADOS. Although I have used TRADOS, and  see that our productivity increases using it, I don’t personally own a copy of the software yet. I won’t be discussing about TM programs per se, I believe too many articles and blogs have discussed the pro’s and con’s of it. Rather, I would discuss the resources that can work well with  the use of a TM program or CAT tool or use  as a standalone resource.  They are large amounts of bilingual data (corpora) extracted from websites in all particular areas.  The reason I love these resources is that they are not the result of machine translation but rather large sources of data that have been translated by translators in a specialized field. So the result is an accurate copy of what you search for. The following list is but a few that I have in my arsenal of resources and some that I have used so far. They are in no particular order.

Linguee
www.linguee.com

This is the corpus that I use the most and like the most.  I do find it the most complete and it is continuously  improving its site. It first started with an English German language  pairing. It then included Spanish and Portuguese and now French.  It gathers  large bodies of information from websites and the internet and matches it with your search. It also tells you the link to the website where this information appeared and gives you several contexts in which the query appeared  and  the website link  ( This can also be downloaded and aligned to your TM). On the side bar there is a dictionary that will help you to understand the phrase and it also allows you to add information to improve the corpora itself. Of all the TM’s I use I find this one the most useful and most complete. You may even download their dictionaries as a GTL file.

My Memory
 mymemory.translated.net

Established in 1999, My Memory is another  resource that I use extensively. It gives you both, internet searches done by human translators and when none is available it  gives you  machine translated text (from Google Translate). Like Linguee, it tells you where the source came from but here it allows you to rate and improve the entry. Furthermore, you can also use their existing memory by downloading  a TMX file  of your  document into their system. It searches the memory for you so you can work with it through your  CAT tool.  You may also contribute your memory to improve the site. They do protect the identity of the material and only use the memory they need. It is available in many language combinations and you can either search by phrase or word. It does not have a dictionary entry like Linguee, but it is also another resource . It is free to join and given that they can provide massive information for you , this is not quite bad at all.

TAUS Data Association
www.tausdata.org

This corpora is a paid subscription that allows you to download the memory directly into your CAT tool. Through their website you can browse their extensive catalog, some are public and others are for paid members. Categorized by subject, you have access to a vast variety of subjects and through this website www.taustracker.com you will soon be able to have access to directories from a specific translation memory.

Finally, there is always Google, but they to have a particular bilingual engine.

2lingual
2lingual.com

Powered by Google and now Bing search engines this bilingual engine provides side-by-side  samples of websites in the language pair that you are looking for by word, phrase, or keyword. Just another free source.

And there you have them, these are just a few that I have found useful to me. There are many others of course , just google “translation memory” or “bilingual data” and  hundreds of pages will appear. However, you have to select the ones that are more useful to you. This is my sample.

Purpose for my blog

Since this post is an introduction of how this blog will be laid out and the subject covered, I would say that it is about translation, its process, applications, tools and resources that embody the field. I will dedicate a great amount of time on each area and at times I will just  discuss any problem that arose in one particular project and how I came around to solving it.   I want this blog to be an information source, and I know that there are many out there to compete with, but as a translator myself  I have used many of them not only for research but to gather information about my field.  Most importantly, those  “how tos”  blog posts  on a particular task that are ever so helpful in your most pressing moments. I would encourage discussion among topics and most importantly,  if you have something to share be it a tool, resource, idea, or how you solved a problem, those would be things I would love to hear and share myself.

I started out as a part-time translator back in 2007 doing freelance work in the marketing and advertising field.  I had a full-time job then in a completely different field (finance/banking) and was not to excited about. Translating in a sense provided me with a sense of  expression or truly finding different ways of it.   This at first created a problem (with my supervisor as well) because I did tend to get off subject and tended to forget that I was translating and not rewriting. Yet, it allowed me to use my creativity in my writing, particularly in the medium I was translating for. This also gave me a sense to” speak” to the Latin American market, particularly as I translated the marketing scripts. Most of my work is from English to Spanish but with my excellent cross-cultural communication and interpersonal skills with fluency in English, Spanish and Portuguese , it allowed me  to reach a larger audience. So by the end of 2009, I pursued translating full-time and have done so since. Although I have maintained my specialty translating within the marketing field, I have at times needed to veer of a little and just this past summer I have translated the  website for the National Hurricane Center Miami. This was a total contrast from what I have done but again it allowed me to explore other areas  and styles (in this case technical writing).

Finally, if you want to contact me I am in most social networks although  Twitter, Linked in and Facebook are the ones I use the most. I do have a Facebook fan page . You can search for Hispania Translations and like the page or follow me on Twitter.  Notwithstanding you may also visit  my personal website and find further information there. The direct link is:hispaniatranslations.com

I hope you will continue reading!