Translating Nikkei: What language barrier?

CommunicateAs a follow up to my previous article, Translating Toyo Keizai, this week we explore The Nikkei (日本経済新聞, Nihon Keizai Shinbun) and the growing presence of translation software.  The Nikkei, first published in 1876 as a weekly goods pricing periodical under a different name, has come to be known as one of the premier national newspapers of Japan publishing 2.77 million morning and 1.39 million evening editions on a daily basis (January ~ June, 2014 Average) Being a financial newspaper (経済→keizai→economy), most of the articles have to do with current state of the Japanese economy but like most newspapers it caters to a wider audience by including other sections such as Sports, Life, and Health. Today’s article comes from the Technology section and is titled (loosely) From Video Calls to Interpreters, Skype Real-Time Translation Software. It’s an article about the exiting prospect of a fully-functional simultaneous translation application and the implications such an application would hold for the future of mankind. The original article published on February 4th, 2015 can be read here, in Japanese, and my English translation–along with a few comments of my own–below:

From Video Calls to Interpreters, Skype Real-Time Translation Software
February 4th, 2015
By Freelance Editor and Journalist Noriko Takiguchi

The day  we can communicate using the internet with foreigners that don’t speak our language…is finally here and there is no need to hire an expensive simultaneous interpretation specialist. If you use Skype Translator, the software automatically translates for you for free.

This is the newest capability being touted by the VoIP service giant Skype. At present, a preview version has been released (in the United States only; Japan release set for the latter half of 2015). During a video call, even when neither speaker can understand their parter’s language, all they have to do is speak in their own language. A language barrier doesn’t mean anything. The software takes your partners speech and translates it into your own language. You can speak with anyone from any country of the world, even if you aren’t very good at languages.

In order to use Skype Translator,  you must first download the latest version of Skype. Then, choose your partner and set Translation to “On”. After that all you need to do is choose the language in which your partner will be speaking.

The preview version of the software is currently compatible with English and Spanish, available on Windows 8.1 and 10 only.

A short breath after your Spanish-speaking friend finishes speaking, text appears in Spanish at the bottom of your screen, followed by translated English text accompanied by a voice that reads it out loud. While still not completely simultaneous, the conversation seems to flow fairly well as long as one speaks clearly. Even if neither party has mastered the other’s language, each can communicate plenty.

Skype already has a messaging service capable of translating over 40 different languages, Japanese being one of them. For the messaging service, input text gets displayed in your partner’s language.

However, the real selling point of Skype Translator in addition to voice-recognition and automatic translation is its powerful built-in learning capabilities. The more people the use the translation software, the better it gets at recognizing speech.

Skype Translator can also be used on other devices such as smartphones. If we can overcome even the language barrier, the world may become an even more familiar place.

(End article)

Regarding the Translation

There were several points that I struggled with in this translation not so much because it was difficult but because the original text was so plain. The article read more like a list than it did a piece of prose…and I found myself challenged to keep this translation true to the sound coming across in the text of the original piece (areas highlighted in purple) I will go over these areas quickly.

“being touted”
This is my translation of the word 搭載, which is used often to describe what kind of weapons a vehicle is “loaded/equipped/set” with. I took the idea of a weapon and imagined someone would be self-confident sporting the latest and most powerful weapon. Then I thought about how Skype is trying to actively sell themselves as the forerunner of this technology and the word “tout” came to mind. Putting it all together, I saw Skype Translator as a weapon they equipped themselves with and “being touted” was chosen.

“communicate”
This is my translation of やり取り. やり取り can loosely be described as a back-and-forth. やる(yaru) “to do” and 取り(tori) “to take” and because in this case the doing and taking would be of words, “communicate” was the best choice.

“however”
This is something that I added to the text and is not a direct translation. The only hint in the original text that may lead someone adding this is は(wa). は sets the subject apart, emphasizing that something new is being introduced, thus, I found it appropriate to add a similar marker in the English translation. 

“If we can overcome even the language barrier, the world may become an even more familiar place.”
The poeticism of this sentence meshes awkwardly and comes across forced in this dry instruction manual of an article. I struggled with trying to create a more beautiful sentence but instead came to the conclusion, especially considering it follows the most worthless sentence of the entire article, to simply leave it alone. 

Writing style aside, the content of this article is exciting because it hints at a world not to0 far off where people of any and every nation communicate freely with each other. That’s very exciting! On the other hand, people like me can not help but wonder if we will fail to become useful.

I look forward to your comments! Until next time,

Dorian

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Translating: The Correct Mindset.

Lifelong Learning 生涯学習Recently, while searching for leads into new opportunities for translation and interpretation, I came across a question posted on the Japanese Q&A portal known as 教えてgoo (oshiete goo) that resonated with my feelings towards translation exactly. There are several websites in English which run on a similar platform. A question is posted, other users freely offer up answers and suggestions, and the original user chooses what they believe to be the best answer. The author of said answer receives credit and reputation in the community for providing valuable information. Whether or not any monetary transactions take place, I am unaware. What I am aware of, and have been surprised by several times to date, is the number of users that offer very detailed, specific, and thoughtful feedback (oftentimes in very polite language). Aside from websites that pride themselves on the quality of their content and manage their community well (such as the American-based Quora), it has struck me that this differs dramatically from the oftentimes shallow and too oftentimes reckless commentary found in similar websites catered to English-speaking audiences.

That aside, here is the original question posted in 2010 by user sosrsvp titled “英語の翻訳者・在宅翻訳・フリーランス翻訳で少しでも稼ぐ為には??”(What does it take to save a little money as an English Translators/Home Translators/Freelance Translator?): Continue reading

Language Independence: English Wednesdays

wednesdayLiving abroad can be an overwhelming experience. Trying to adjust to the culture, the religion, the food, and the language takes time and causes frustration. Fortunately if you have a guide who has been there before to show you around, you are strides ahead and sure to come away from the experience with a positive impression. Unfortunately, the reliance on a guide can be crippling to your independence in that country. How can someone who spends an extended period of time in a foreign country ever expect to learn the language and gain independence while at the same time enjoying all the benefits of a guide?

Two experiences come to mind. One, the year I spent in South Korea. Two, now as I play the role of guide in the United States.

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Effective Language: Sign Language

One who believes the purpose of language is simply to convey information…is absolutely mistaken. If this was the case, we would write sentences like this:

One who believes the purpose of language is simply to convey information…is absolutely mistaken
if believe (language = information), wrong.

Doing so allows the speaker to say nearly exactly the same thing in only 6 words (as compared to 15) and less than half as many letters. Such a scenario would allow for faster transfer of spoken information and leave us with more time to do other things. So let us invent something to do just that!

In reality… we already have. Continue reading

Radiolab: Leopards, Language, and Mr. Fernyhough

This week, take a load off your eyes and just listen. One of the most influential pieces of technology to ever hit the human race is surely the radio, is it not? Radio, in all its forms, influenced our grandparents and will surely influence our great-great grandchildren. Years ago (and not too long ago, mind you) if you missed a show on the radio, you would either write to the broadcaster for a copy of the program or wait to hear it again…somehow. Today, with the invention of the internet, nearly everything is available for listening consumption at any time you deem worthy…many times in the form of podcasts.

One such podcast that has never let me down both in variety of subjects as well as entertainment value is the American show Radiolab:

Radiolab believes your ears are a portal to another world. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience. Big questions are investigated, tinkered with, and encouraged to grow. Bring your curiosity, and we’ll feed it with possibility. -Radiolab

With a new podcast every week, Radiolab is the perfect way to escape your routine and challenge your mind for twenty minutes to an hour a week on subjects ranging from natural selection and fate, words and language, or time and gravity (as well as many other subjects!) It is to this podcast that I highly encourage a bored blogger to visit in their spare time for it not only offers you a ears a world of entertaining sound but it offers your mind a new way to take in the world.  What with all this reading, our ears certainly are ready for some stimulation!

Radiolab is a member of WNYC radio as well as a part of National Public Radio.  Radiolab is supported, in part, by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, enhancing public understanding of science and technology in the modern world.

If you have not listened to it before, here are a couple good ones to get you started:

1) Words: Imagine a world without words!
2) Wild Talk : Animals with grammar? Words in the wild.

The BEST Thing to Happen to Language Learning…Ever.

 

Lang-8

If you are on a journey to learn a new language and already speak one fluently…but have not tried Lang-8, then you are in for a revolution.  Debuting in 2007, Lang-8 took language learning to the highest, most user-friendly, international stratosphere (and that was three years ago!) …and it has never looked back.

  • The premise: Free Language Tutoring.
  • How: Users of Lang-8 (Infinite Languages) write journal entries in a foreign language. Then, other Lang-8 users who are native speakers of that language correct them.  In return, those users’ journal entries are corrected by other Lang-8 members.  What often happens is that 2 members who want to learn each others’ native language meet, and thereafter frequently correspond.  A simple way to bridge divides between nations, reduce miscommunication, and further world peace?  Its name is Lang-8. Continue reading

When Language Doesn’t Cut It

I am at a loss for words.  What do you say when no words will suffice.  I am simply,__________.

 

Life, Without Words: Photo Courtesy of D.L Ennis Photography

Life, Without Words: Photo Courtesy of D.L Ennis Photography

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