Translation

Good Translation Isn’t Free

Good Translation Isn’t Free 2500 1667 Atomic Scribe

There are so many different ways to translate things nowadays. You can hire a company who employs linguists, like Atomic Scribe. You can hire a freelancer you aren’t personally acquainted with off the Internet. But probably the most common method today is using free sites, such as Google Translate, to have a machine translate your text and bypass paying an actual human.

The truth is there are a lot of instances when not paying is the best option. Want an article headline translated without needing much accuracy? Google Translate is your best bet. But anything more than that can cause major problems.

In 2014, the Irish government was in hot water for translating a web site commemorating the 1916 Easter Rebellion using Google Translate. The results were “nonsensical,” readers claimed. Though the government said it was a mistake and the text was meant to be replaced by a real translation, the incident shows how far the gulf still is today between human and machine translation.

Why It’s Worth It

Even human translation is fallible. There are so many different ways to translate a single word—let alone a full text—that it can be difficult to figure out the best way to do it.

That’s why Atomic Scribe uses two linguists for every project. This extra step ensures every word is translated and proofed by two native speakers who have created the best translation possible. But they also look at the project as a whole so that context, tone and meaning are consistent with the client’s vision. That’s something machine translation can’t do, and it’s something lowly paid translators are not willing to do if they aren’t paid fairly or at all.

Communication is imperative in every situation in life. Whether you’re a business, an author, a journalist, or just one person, we all need to be able to connect and understand others and be understood in return. Paying for high-quality translation services ensures that happens, without looking foolish or being misunderstood.

The Rise of the Machines

The Rise of the Machines 2500 1667 Atomic Scribe

If you’re fond of ’80s movies, chances are you’ve seen what they envisioned the 2010s to look like: full of hovercrafts, futuristic cities, and murderous robot machines. For better or worse, none of those things have become commonplace yet, but we are making strides in the technology department. The self-driving car will soon be commercially available, and our lives are very much devoted to smartphones and the Internet.

Speech Recognition

But why are we so behind on speech recognition? This is a hugely debated topic in the transcription and translation industries, as many don’t want their jobs to become obsolete. Though while that is a worry, the ability for a machine to accurately transcribe or translate will provide cheap access to many who need language services, which would be a huge step forward.

The problem is that language is so, so difficult (especially English) in so many ways. It may seem like speech recognition should be easy to develop, but just think about an elderly person having a conversation with a pre-teen. Even if they’re both speaking English, it can sometimes feel like conversations between two different worlds due to how quickly language evolves, context, and speaking styles.

Machines have this same problem. While we are extremely close to machines being able to understand monotonous, clear English spoken by a single speaker, problems arise when you have recordings with groups of people (which is what we specialize in).

Where Machines Fail

Here’s an example: a market research company is holding a 10-person focus group with folks who do speak English but aren’t native speakers. The group is comprised of teenagers from the rural south. So that’s 10 people, many talking over each other at certain points, who don’t speak English well, use regional dialect, and also use many newly-created words. That’s hard enough for a human to transcribe. But for machines, at this time, it’s not possible to achieve anywhere near 100% accuracy.

In the future, this will likely be solved in some technical way that my non-scientific brain cannot fathom. When it does, Atomic Scribe will evolve, just as language does. For now, it’s best to use human-powered services if you’re looking for accuracy. The rise of the machines will have to wait just a little bit longer.

Language Services Make Sermons Soar

Language Services Make Sermons Soar 2500 1667 Atomic Scribe

In the olden days, churches operated very differently than their counterparts of today. It used to be many congregated on a Sunday morning to listen their pastor, and that was the only way to experience the teachings of their church.

But today, the Internet has revolutionized how information is disseminated. Now pastors can record and upload their sermons, turn their messages into podcasts and live streams, and they can interact with their members through social media and their web sites. While this may be daunting to some, it has a huge benefit: it ensures your message is spread near and far. So how can you make sure you’re reaching all those that you can?

Transcription

At Atomic Scribe, one of our favorite things to work on are sermon transcriptions, which we do frequently. Most of our religious clients transcribe their sermons so they can put the text on their web site, which is useful for Deaf followers and those who just prefer reading to listening (which is many).

Using the transcripts can also allow your sermons to be picked up by Google searches, and you can use the transcripts for books, newsletters, blog posts, and for keyword searches. It’s really a small price to pay to have your words indexed so that more people can find you and so that you can reach more people.

Translation

One of the U.S.’s greatest strengths is our diversity. And as we have no official national language, the need for translation services grows as the immigrant population does.

Many churches now have Spanish-speaking followers, among other languages. To make your sermons accessible to these followers as well, use translation services so they can follow along in their native language. It’s a great way to expand your congregation and to be more inclusive.

Spread the Word

In the end, it’s a church’s decision if they want to grow and to take advantage of the new routes the Internet provides to communicate with and reach more people. We promise you’ll find language services useful in spreading your word, and we would love to help. Get a quote today to get started.

Does Size Matter in a Translation Company?

Does Size Matter in a Translation Company? 2500 1667 Atomic Scribe

Here’s a question: how many times have you heard a company boast about their size? Can you recall, or is that number too high? It seems as though the biggest grocery store always claims to have the most food. The biggest sporting goods store must have the largest selection of tennis rackets in the world. And, without fail, the most well-known translation companies claim to have the highest number of translators, even numbering in the tens of thousands.

That sounds reassuring at first. With so many translators, surely your translation will be done in a timely fashion and of the highest quality, as there are so many workers to choose from. But is that really the case?

Personal and Professional

A large number of translators often means it’s impossible for an agency to know their translators one-on-one. The translators become a number, just one part of a mass e-mail blast that gets sent out when a project comes in. As such, that means the project manager can’t match up the perfect person for the job. If you don’t know where your translators’ strengths lie, how can you know if they are the best person for the project?

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Although some may suggest otherwise, there is always someone more apt for one project than another person. It could be a technical translation that requires specialized knowledge, or it could be a certain dialect or industry. It could be a poetry project that needs someone familiar with literary translations, or a medical conference with difficult terminology.

We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and translators are no different. Because of this, knowing your translators personally and matching their strengths to certain projects should be a consideration for all companies. That’s why we suggest taking time to select a translation partner and to learn about who you will potentially be working with. It’s a little effort that will go a long way in helping you achieve the most accurate translation possible.

Why Businesses Should Translate Their Materials

Why Businesses Should Translate Their Materials 2500 1668 Atomic Scribe

Anyone who works with a business knows there are countless numbers of written materials they look over in the course of a day. There’s emails, web sites, reports, contracts, orders, marketing materials, social media, articles, and so much more.

But in the United States, these materials are usually exclusively in English, even though we’re living through a period of non-English language growth that will only increase in the future. That’s millions of consumers businesses might not be reaching.

Increased Reach

It’s imperative to be able to reach as many people as you can with your business. So instead of waiting for a huge percentage of the population to learn English, isn’t it more efficient to translate your materials into popular languages? And since many non-native speakers have difficulty even if they do become proficient in English (let’s face it, English is difficult!), most are more comfortable reading materials in their primary language anyway.

Studies show that 75% of consumers in non-English countries prefer purchasing from sites in their native language, and a whopping 60% say they never or rarely bought from English-only sites. Those are huge numbers.

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Online Presence

So what should you translate? Well, your web site is a good start, as it’s usually the first impression a consumer will have of your business. Glaring mistakes from Google Translate or cheap agencies will also be noticed and can impact credibility, so make sure to use a high-quality service.

It may be beyond your budget to translate all your social media into other languages, but you could occasionally translate some of your tweets or Facebook posts. Likewise, blog posts in other languages will bring more people to your site and allow you to impart your business message to millions more. Remember that consumers don’t Google only in English.

One-Time Cost

Translation is just a one-time cost. You pay once, and then you can disseminate those materials to however many people you want for as long as you want. And by translating your materials into Spanish, Mandarin, Arabic, German, and other popular business languages, you’re reaching more people, thereby increasing your sales and likely making back your translation investment quickly. Don’t delay and improve your reach today!

Building a Relationship With Our Clients

Building a Relationship With Our Clients 2500 1668 Atomic Scribe

Our slogan at Atomic Scribe is “Human-Powered. Professional. Personal.” Those are the three pillars of our business, and it speaks to our number one concern: building a relationship with our clients so that we can better suit their needs.

A lot of businesses these days are moving away from this model thanks to the internet, especially in the language services industry. It’s more efficient for a transcription company to put their order form online, send out the work to transcriptionists through email, and then send the work back to the client, all without speaking to the client or workers personally. This saves time so that the company can work more on increasing sales.

We don’t like to do that at Atomic Scribe, but we’re not antiquated either. We use an online client portal to accept orders, list invoices, send files, and more, but we also interact with our clients as soon as an order is submitted and throughout the duration of the project. This helps us figure out the client’s needs, see how they prefer things done and customize their project to what works best for them. It’s a mix of technology and personalization that ensures we provide the best service we can for each individual client.

Because as much as technology can be de-humanizing, each client is different from every other client, and a language services company needs to spend the time to notice that and deliver tailor-made work. Treating clients as people and not a number in a sea of orders is key to attaining maximum quality and creating a lasting understanding between partners.

The Seri Language: Recent Growth Against the Odds

The Seri Language: Recent Growth Against the Odds 2500 1667 Atomic Scribe

The Seri language is spoken by the Seri people in northwestern Mexico, in two small communities along the Gulf of California. It has no known related language, and a written alphabet was not published until the 1950s.

In contrast to most languages with few speakers, the Seri language has actually grown over the last century. While there were believed to be just 200 Seri people in the 1920s, as of 2015 it is estimated that there are between 600 and 1,000 native speakers.

No known language that exists still today is related to Seri, making it an isolated language. Some have theorized it is a part of the Hokan language family, though this has been rebuffed by scholars who see few links between the languages.

Language Complexity

The isolation has made Seri a fascinating language. It is comprised of 18 consonants and eight vowels, and it has a very large lexicon. Kinship, for example, has over 50 primary terms, making it one of the most extensive lexicons in any language in the world.

Another complexity is the use of plurals. Explained by Stephen A. Marlett in the Journal of the Southwest:

“Unlike languages that either do not have any indicator of number (some Zapotec languages in Oaxaca, for example), or just add the suffix –m to the noun (as some neighboring Uto-Aztecan languages in Sonora, such as Yaqui), or usually add –s (like English), Seri flourishes here. In fact, every noun and verb has to have its plural listed in the dictionary because one simply has to learn it.

In Seri, one could ask for a couple of dozen words at random and never see a common way for plurals to be formed. Verbs are similar in that they have different forms depending on whether the action was done by one person or more than one, and whether the action was repeated or not repeated (roughly speaking). And these forms display about the same kind of complexity as the nouns.”

Eclectic Serian Expressions

Seri also has some truly great expressions. From National Geographic, one such example is “Miixöni quih zó hant ano tiij?” which translates to “Where is your placenta buried?” The phrase is meant to ask where someone is from, as before hospital births the Seri people would bury the afterbirth in the ground and mark the burial spot, never forgetting where it lay.

Want to learn more about the Seri language? A good place to start is Marlett’s article, which looks at the phonology, morphology, syntax, and lexicon of the language. The Summer Institute of Linguistics in Mexico also has a good list of resources on the small, yet extensive language.

6 Ways to Learn a Foreign Language

6 Ways to Learn a Foreign Language 2500 1667 Atomic Scribe

Have you ever tried to learn a language but given up out of frustration? Maybe you felt like you were the problem and that you just weren’t meant to master a foreign language. Well, you’re in the majority—most people find learning a language as an adult extremely difficult. But the good news is you aren’t the problem. It’s that you’re not not using the language learning method that works best for you.

More good news: you have lots of options to choose from. Just as we all learn differently in the classroom, we also need to try out new language learning methods until we find the one that best fits. Here are some examples of different methods you can try.

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1. Apps

Perhaps the most popular language app available, Duolingo is playable both on your phone and computer to learn a variety of languages. It turns the learning process into a game, letting you earn points and nudging you when you haven’t played in a while. The app teaches vocabulary and grammar, but an interesting aspect is it also has the learner speak into the microphone to practice speaking the language. Oh, we forgot the best part: it’s free!

2. In-Person Classes

If you need structure and a classroom setting to learn, there are a multitude of classes to choose from. There are local college classes available, but it’s advised to search out your city and see what all is available. Don’t forget to also look at reviews of the schools or businesses on sites such as Yelp to see what previous students have to say.

3. Podcasts

Our favorite? Radio Lingua. This company provides free podcasts for learning languages when you have a little free time (say, on your coffee break), and then there is further materials available if you buy a premium membership. It’s a great tool for beginners who are in need of a slower pace and to learn the history behind the language you’re learning.

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BaBaDum in German.

4. Online Games

Not that we ever slack off at work, but sometimes in the office you might catch one of us on BaBaDum. This site is great to use in conjunction with other learning tools, as it helps with vocabulary and pronunciation. The best part, however, might be the terrific illustrations!

5. Rosetta Stone

This may be our most controversial inclusion because some people hate Rosetta Stone and some people love it. It’s an expensive option, but it’s useful for many. The software really focuses on repetition to teach a language, which may suit certain learners. Our suggestion is to use the free trial to see if it fits your needs.

6. Government Resources

The U.S. Department of Defense maintains the Defense Language Institute to teach languages to service members, but they’ve also made a large amount of learning materials available online. There’s really a wealth of information on there, so make sure to take a look.

Another great resource is this site which has captured all of the Foreign Service Institute’s public domain language lessons. The BBC and other institutions also have free online resources available.

Learning a language doesn’t have to be scary. If one method isn’t working for you, move on to another until you find you perfect fit. Don’t give up!

Dialects of Sign Language: Black ASL

Dialects of Sign Language: Black ASL 2500 1667 Atomic Scribe

We’re all aware of the large number of dialects that make up our spoken languages around the world. But with many ignorant of the fact that separate forms of sign language exist in different countries, there’s even less education on the different dialects that populate specific sign language families.

Black ASL Origins

Take American Sign Language, for example. The Washington Post tells the story of Carolyn McCaskill, who in 1968 enrolled with nine other Deaf black students in a newly integrated school for the Deaf. From the Post:

“When the teacher got up to address the class, McCaskill was lost.

“I was dumbfounded,” McCaskill recalls through an interpreter. “I was like, ‘What in the world is going on?’ ”

The teacher’s quicksilver hand movements looked little like the sign language McCaskill had grown up using at home with her two deaf siblings and had practiced at the Alabama School for the Negro Deaf and Blind, just a few miles away. It wasn’t a simple matter of people at the new school using unfamiliar vocabulary; they made hand movements for everyday words that looked foreign to McCaskill and her fellow black students.”

Today we know that McCaskill grew up using what is now called Black American Sign Language. This form is known for using more two-handed signs than American Sign Language, with Black ASL featuring a higher location of signs (at the forehead level) and a larger space used compared to ASL.

Education Needed

Joseph Hill, an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, explains and demonstrates the differences in ASL and Black ASL here:

Sign language is not universal. The different dialects need to be studied independently, just as one would study spoken languages. We can help spread this message by supporting education on the subject, such as the Black ASL Project. Another great resource is this interview conducted by the Chronicle of Higher Education with Joseph Hill, who hopes awareness will make sign language a bigger part of the linguistics community.

We Are Still Here: The Yuchi Language Project

We Are Still Here: The Yuchi Language Project 2500 1667 Atomic Scribe

Yuchi (Euchee) is a unique language spoken by the Yuchi people, who were forcibly relocated from Tennessee, Georgia and other neighboring states to Oklahoma in the 1800s. As of 2014, the number of first-language Yuchi speakers has dwindled to just four, and all of those speakers are above the age of 80.

A Unique Language

Yuchi is a fascinating language. It is not known to be related to any other language on the planet, and there was no written alphabet until the 1970s. There are 49 phonetic sounds (38 consonant sounds and 11 vowel sounds), which is twice the number of most Indigenous languages from the Southeast.

It also has different speeches for males and females, and today the number of first-language male speakers is down to only one. From Yuchi.org:

“The language more than has gender – in fact it is very nearly two different languages – a men’s speech and a women’s speech. The way something is said in these two variations is often quite different. Further, Yuchean not only has tenses, but it varies its structure according to whether a Yuchi is talking or a non-Yuchi is talking, preserving contexts of time and circumstance. All these variations can add a number of complicating layers to the grammar and the effort needed to master it.”

 

 

Efforts to Save Yuchi

The short documentary above is a beautiful look at how the community is attempting to keep the language alive by fully immersing young people in the language at the Euchee Language Project in Sapulpa, Oklahoma. Also of interest is their site dedicated to the non-profit, where you can donate, listen to audio and learn more about the Yuchi language.

“What we want, what we need in our communities, what our goal is, is to keep alive our languages so our young people will have breath-to breath knowledge of their traditions, of their ceremonies, of their medicines, of the stars.” – Dr. Richard Grounds
As they say, ÔnzO yUdjEha gO’wAdAnA-A n@wadOnô – “Our Yuchi language will not die.”