Is it really time for the machines to take over? hmmm….

Is it really time for the machines to take over? hmmm….

Yesterday I wrote about machine translation and why although it may look impressive, simple to use and delivers quick results, it may not be the best way to get your translations done. I so used an amazing quote from Friends (no, sadly it wasn’t ‘pivot!’), so you know it’s good!

Well, its not all about Google Translate and iTranslate! Over the past couple of weeks news has been circling about a new and innovative idea to bridge the gap between languages.



Google Pixel Buds have recently hit the news for its handle of real-time translation. For those ‘Trekkies’ out there, the Pixel Buds are an idea from Star Trek called the universal translator. It allowed characters to speak to aliens regardless of their native language.  Or, if you know ‘Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy‘, call the Pixel Buds your Babel Fish! Just ‘shove’ it in your ear and it will automatically translate any language in the universe for you.

Now this idea is fast becoming a reality for the price of $160. The Pixel Buds hear you and your Pixel’s speaker and “will play the translation in another language. When the other person speaks, you’ll hear the translation right in your ear”. Granted, it can’t interpret every language in the universe, but it claims to know 40 languages.

If this does work correctly, and is improved upon – this would be revolutionary! At the UN meetings there will be several translators and interpreters per language to assist the world leaders to understand each other. Imagine if all the world leader needed was to put on their earphones and let technology do the rest. Should our translators and interpreters start to worry that AI’s in the form of earphones can take their jobs?

Google isn’t the only company that are using this idea of earphone translation. Many companies are using this technology. But, (here it comes again) … Do you trust this? You can’t deny that this technology is revolutionary, but is it safe? Would you be willing to have this earphone assist with a business call to the other side of the world? Now, I’m not saying the topic of the call will be world domination, but surely you’d prefer to have a safer, less tampered with means of communication.

I am always going to vouch for the human translator. I don’t think neutral translation systems are ready to replace human translators any time soon! Literature requires a far too robust understanding of the author’s intentions and culture for machines to suffice. I can’t see them understanding Shakespeare all to clearly!

no-machine-translation 318 × 292For translations which are technical, financial, legal, scientific, the smallest of errors could have a catastrophic consequence. We always advise that if a translation is to be published, or if the translation is of great importance a proof-reader. A proof-reader is a second pair of eyes to look over the document, not to check spelling or accuracy as such, but to ensure that the Source Text matches the Target Text. Something some people are using alongside machine technology. Soooooo…. human translation is always needed then!!



What could you interpret? A birth?

What could you interpret? A birth?

Could you interpret a birth?

These days interpreters are needed for everything! As an agency we get various requests for legal proceedings, events, interviews, football players, medical issues… the list goes on. The range of needs for interpreting is immense. But what could you interpret? Legal can be a difficult area to interpret as you can be dealing with some very technical and sensitive situations. What about interpreting a labour? Could you do that?


birthI was casually watching ‘one born every minute’ (preparing myself for when I’ll be in labour in July!) and there was a Persian family requiring an interpreter for the birth of their child. It made me think, could I interpret something like that?! It is a special time in the parents lives and you’d be there helping them understand what is going on, and helping the doctors and midwifes understand how mum is feeling.

To give a bit of history of the family

They had two children in Iran through caesarean under general anaesthetic. They then moved to Britain and were learning English and became pregnant with their third child. Although, between them they could understand a lot of what the midwifes were saying, there was still a language barrier. An interpreter was needed to help the labour run smoothly.


They were planning on having a caesarean for the 3rd child, but unlike in Iran, we do not use general anaesthetic for the procedure. As you can imagine the woman was a little worried about being awake for the procedure. The interpreter was there to help them understand what the consultants, doctors and midwifes needed the mum and dad to understand, along with the mum being able to explain how she feels and what was happening with her.

From a language point of view, the conversation would’ve been easy for any medical trained interpreter to assist with. The difficult part for the interpreter would’ve to be present during what it a very special and unique time for the parents. Especially considering in Iran the fathers are not normally allowed to be present for the births.

Sometimes we forget how vast a profession interpreting can be. On the news we only see interpreters in a legal point of view, but there are so many areas of life where interpreters are needed. So, my question is: what could you interpret? At Lingua Translations we aim to find the best suited interpreter for of our clients. Could you interpret something as unique as a labour?

Raining cats and dogs

Raining cats and dogs

Raining Cats and Dogs


raining cats and dogs 181 × 174You might’ve seen my earlier blog about our fixations with weather. This got me thinking – are we the only nation? But more importantly, do other nations have some random way of saying its raining quite heavily out there. I’ve checked- Britain is not the only country to get heavy downpours – just a shame most of ours happen in summer.


So, here’s what I found!


Cats and Dogs is a very English way of saying its raining. Obviously, you could technically say raining cats and dogs in any language- but would people understand what you are trying to say? Here’s how some of the rest of the world would say it:


The Catalans have gone with something just a weird, but without the animal cruelty: Està plovent a bots i barrals (barrels and casks)


The French have a few variations with what they would say: Il pleut des grenouilles / à seaux / comme vache qui pisse – meaning raining frogs (bit of a stereotype there!), buckets and a random one, like a pissing cow……  Never to be outdone by the English clearly!


The Greeks went with the simple Βρέχει καρεκλοπόδαρα (Brékhei kareklopódara) – It’s raining chair legs. Just as bizarre as the pets… but where is the rest of the chair?


Iceland go with the more apocalyptic version of Það rignir eld og brennustein – raining fire and brimstone. Think I’d prefer cats falling on me than brimstone!


Korea seems to be one of the more sensible countries when describing very bad rain: 비가 억수같이 쏟아진다 – Rain is pouring down like a torrential downpour. Hitting the nail on the head there! No confusion!


Not sure how often the Spaniards would use this version but I found it interesting enough. Estan lloviendo hasta maridos It’s even raining husbands. When the rain is that bad, it brings husbands with it!


I’m Welsh second language – but when speaking about weather down south, I’ve never heard these versions, but they made me chuckle! Maybe I was hanging out with the wrong people! Mae hi’n bwrw hen wragedd a ffyn / cyllyll a ffyrc – Also known as It’s raining old ladies and sticks / knives and forks


The Challenges of translation

The Challenges of translation


There is more to translation than transferring the words from one language into another, it involves the translation of feelings, emotions and thoughts. Every language has a unique structure or word order. The simpler the language is, the easier it is to translate that language to another one. A poorly written text can make matters much more complex, as the meaning can be hard to understand and therefore to render into a different language.

The role of translators in the development of international relations, economics, arts, movies and scientific exchange, is vast. Translators facilitate social, artistic, cultural, political and scientific communication.


Homonyms (words with the same spelling and pronunciation but different meanings) can mislead the translator. Using the wrong meaning can ruin a phrase or make it seem absurd. Sometimes different words have an overlap in their definition, meaning and use but they are not used in quite the same way or have a mismatch in certain contexts. This can lead to misuse or different meaning in the target text as words might have an implied value judgement in one language but not in another.

It is not strange to stumble upon a word that has no equivalent in the target language. Which is very likely to be found in legal documents because of the different legislation or in technical texts where many key terms are used to describe technological progress that has no equivalent in another language since it’s a brand-new concept. A good solution in this case is to come up with a phrase that conveys the meaning.


Sarcasm is a sharp or bitter way of expressing thoughts or a remark that usually means the opposite of what people say. It usually loses its meaning if translated word-for-word into a different language. Finding the right equivalents in the target language is not always an easy task. Cultural differences between languages and the culture of their speakers can only make this mission more daunting. Many jokes and idioms are culture-bond and would not make any sense in the target language if translated literally.

The best way to insure the meaning of your text is rendered efficiently into the target language is to use qualified professional translator like the ones we use at Lingua Translations. We make sure the target text conveys the meaning you want to communicate to your audience. Only the human translator is able of interpreting cultural components in the source text and that cannot be translated in terms of equivalent terms. As well as understanding the different cultural, linguistic and semantic nuances in order to produce a target text that has the same effect as the source text.



La traducción es más que pasar las palabras de un idioma a otro, implica la traducción de sentimientos, emociones y pensamientos. Cada lengua posee una estructura u orden de palabras único. Cuanto más sencillo sea el lenguaje, más fácil es de traducir ese idioma a otro. Un texto mal escrito puede hacer esta tare mucho más ardua, ya que el significado puede resultar difícil de comprender y, por lo tanto, de transmitir en un idioma distinto.

El papel del traductor en el desarrollo de las relaciones internacionales, economía, arte, cine e intercambios científicos es enorme. Facilitan la comunicación social, artística, cultural, política y científica.

Los homónimos

Los homónimos (palabras con la misma ortografía y pronunciación, pero de significados diferentes) pueden confundir al traductor. Utilizar el significado erróneo puede arruinar la frase o hacerla absurda. En ocasiones, diferentes palabras se solapan en algunas acepciones, pero no se usan de la misma manera o son incompatibles en algunos contextos. Esto puede llevar al mal uso o cambio de significado en el texto meta ya que éstas pueden tener un valor implícito en un idioma, pero no en el otro.

No es extraño encontrarse con una palabra que no tiene equivalente en el idioma meta. Esto es muy probable en documentos legales debido a la diferencia en la legislación o en textos técnicos donde muchos términos se utilizan para describir el progreso tecnológico que no tiene equivalente en otra lengua por tratarse de un nuevo concepto. Una buena solución en este caso sería crear una frase que transmita el mismo significado.

El sarcasmo

El sarcasmo es una manera de expresar pensamientos o hacer comentarios agudos o viperinos en la que se quiere decir lo contrario a lo expresado verbalmente. Normalmente pierde sentido si se traduce literalmente en otro idioma. Encontrar los equivalentes adecuados en la lengua meta no es siempre una tarea sencilla. Las diferencias culturales entre idiomas y la cultura de sus hablantes sólo pueden hacer este cometido más intimidante. Muchas bromas y expresiones están ligadas a la cultura y no tienen sentido en la lengua meta si se traducen literalmente.

La mejor manera de asegurarse de que su texto se transmita eficazmente en el idioma meta es utilizar traductores profesionales como los que usamos en Lingua Translations. Nos aseguramos de que su texto transmita el significado que usted quiere comunicar a su público. Sólo los traductores humanos con capaces de interpretar los componentes culturales en el texto de origen y que no tienen términos equivalentes. Además de comprender los distintos matices culturales, lingüísticos y semánticos para producir un texto meta con el mismo efecto que el texto de origen.

Technical Translations for Technology

Technical Translations for Technology

Over the last decade, things have rapidly moved on in the world of technology and the internet, and with that so has the language we use to communicate with each other, which is happening increasingly over the internet. With new words such as ‘Googled’ and ‘tweeted’ shaping our daily vocabulary, and with emerging words such as ‘rick rolling’ and ‘trolling’ taking effect, it is just one of the reasons why translators specialising in technology and IT need to be fully immersed in their target language to enable tip top technical translations.

Internet-speak is firmly implanted in language now, and as we continue to live our lives online, new expressions and words will continue to develop. Like what has been happening since the first word was spoken, we will adjust the way we use words based on what we do and see. And because what we do and see is so often the computer screen (whether that be via a PC, tablet, laptop, smartphone or netbook may I add), our language is impacted by the Internet, and it is only going to continue in that direction it seems!

Translators need to keep up with this language revolution, although it may often be words that are universally the same, it is how those words are blended with their mother tongues. How has that new word been implanted into the target language country’s vocabulary? Is it through hybrid English such as Konglish (Korean and English), Hinglish (Hindi and English) and Spanglish (Spanish and English)? This is why technical translators are required for the fields of Technology and IT. Us regular folk do not have the time, or knowledge to research this, or understand it, we simply just use it how it has been incorporated in the languages we speak.

Technical web words that specialist translators in this sector should be familiar with:

SEO – the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s “natural” or un-paid (“organic”) search resultsCloud – anything stored online
Infographic – Information graphics or infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present complex information quickly and clearlyPlug-in – a software component that adds a specific feature to an existing software application
Hyperlink – a reference to data that the reader can directly follow, or that is followed automaticallyApp – a software application designed to run on smartphones, tablet computers and other mobile devices
Simples – when a person acts in a way that insults their own intelligenceRSS – is about getting live web feeds directly to your computer. RSS takes the latest headlines from different web sites, and pushes those headlines down to your computer for quick scanning
Flash mob computing – is a temporary ad hoc computer cluster running specific software to coordinate the individual computers into one single supercomputerMesofact – a fact that is slowly evolving over time
Meme – News travels fast on the Internet. When it does, a meme is formed: It’s any idea or concept that moves rapidly from one person to the nextThumbo – a mistake made when you are typing with your thumbs — on a BlackBerry or other smartphone.
Ideation – an idea that germinates over time, like a new business start-up idea or some concept that a group discusses in a meeting and creates together.Linkbait – Linkbait is any link that is so compelling that you just have to click on it.

Recognise all of the above words? Neither did I until I began researching them, which is another reason why you should employ experts in this field to translate specialist documents. Just because the person is a qualified translator, it does not necessarily mean they have the knowledge required for such a complex piece of text. With our strict vetting procedure, you can rest assured that your translator is fully immersed in the language required for a complex IT document.