Human Translation

A Decade in Review: The Language Services Industry and the 2010s

A Decade in Review: The Language Services Industry and the 2010s 2560 1707 Atomic Scribe

Welcome to 2020! To celebrate, let’s looks back on how the 2010s changed the language services industry, for the better and worse.

The Rise of Machine Translation and Transcription

One of the biggest impacts on the language services industry in the 2010s was the growing use and accuracy of machine-generated transcriptions and translations. Companies, freelancers, and consumers can use software (like Google Translate) for free or very cheap to get language services, and many companies are developing their own software. Even here at Atomic Scribe we’ve introduced an automatic transcription option for $1/audio minute that combines human quality with machine efficiency.

The good news is that this is helping speed up services, and a lot of software is widely accessible. The bad news is that the accuracy for most files and texts is nowhere near 100%, which can especially be worrisome if the software is used on medical records, legal documents, or other files that need to be correct. It’s also hard for software to offer nuance and localization instead of a direct translation of content, which can cause problems (like in the case of Norway’s Olympic team mistakenly ordering 15,000 eggs).

So what can we expect next? The use of such services will surely rise, though some fear that computers will erase humans from the equation entirely in this service sector. Fortunately, the ability for machines to be 100% accurate on every transcription and translation is far from a reality, as humans are still needed to ensure accuracy. But we can leverage the positives of this software to help human workers perform better and more efficiently.

Increased Outsourcing

Outsourcing for transcription and translation definitely grew in the 2010s. However, where it grew to is troubling to some.

With the internet making communication so easy, globalization is taking hold in the language services industry as well. While before companies would outsource to local U.S.-based companies, now many are finding much cheaper alternatives in countries like India and the Philippines. Some U.S. companies are also using non-American labor that they pay peanuts to avoid having to pay Americans a living wage. While that’s great for a company’s bottom line, U.S. workers and service accuracy is suffering.

Take Rev, a popular company in the industry that was recently exposed for their poor pay and treatment of workers. While this allows them to charge little for their services, it also means their quality is far below Atomic Scribe’s, and that their workers have little incentive to do proper work. Unfortunately, the lowering of rates was a common theme throughout the decade, but it was promising to see more speak out about workers’ rights.

“We suggest building a relationship with a business or freelancer that you get to know, can hold accountable for their work, and that you trust.”

“We suggest building a relationship with a business or freelancer that you get to know, can hold accountable for their work, and that you trust.”

Loss of Quality Control

The problem with outsourcing on the internet is that it requires a great deal of trust. If you pay a company to translate an English advertisement into Korean, you need to trust that they will provide you a translation that is both accurate and localized. So how do you know it is correct if you don’t speak Korean and have no means to double check the work?

That should be a question we all have in mind in the 2020s, because the standards for quality control are diminishing. While now the cheapest option is usually seen as the best, that means there is likely no or little money spent on a second editor or translator checking the accuracy of a translation.

Because of this, we suggest building a relationship with a business or freelancer that you get to know, can hold accountable for their work, and that you trust. A nameless person behind a huge company that is paid very little has no incentive to provide you great work. But someone you trust and can speak with and ask questions about their work will.

Easier Access to Services

So far everything we have reviewed has had both positives and negatives. However, we will always celebrate how the 2010s ushered in a new wave of accessibility for those seeking translation and transcription services.

For example, while there is still work to do, YouTube provided an option of captions on their videos. This has helped Deaf and hard-of-hearing people enjoy more videos, and it makes translating of content easier. Google Translate has also been successful at helping people with basic translations or has been used by travelers to foreign countries. This helps with communication and accessibility worldwide.

As we’ve said, accuracy is still an issue. But the increased normalization and importance of accessibility is helping people worldwide, and we hope this trend will grow exponentially in the 2020s.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

When Is It Time to Find a Translation Partner?

When Is It Time to Find a Translation Partner? 4000 2667 Atomic Scribe

For English speakers, sometimes we forget that the whole world doesn’t speak our language. Or if they do, that doesn’t mean that they can understand all of it. Heck, even a lot of native English speakers find the language confusing, and who can blame them?

It can be a daunting task, but in today’s world you need to be able to reach the most people you can, and that means translation is key. Here are some reasons why it might be time for you to find a translation partner to help.

Getting Into New Markets. Thanks to the Internet, the world is getting smaller… or, at least, our ability to connect with others in far away places is becoming easier. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean getting our message across in one language is becoming easier, too.

The population in non-English speaking countries is growing. But more than that, studies show that 75% of consumers in those countries prefer purchasing from sites in their native language. An even more impressive statistic is that 60% of those surveyed claimed they rarely or never bought from English-only sites. That is a huge amount of the world’s population one misses out on if they only provide information in English.

You’re Spending Too Much Time Lost in Translation. A common comment we hear in the midst of working with a new client is, “I wish I had done this sooner!” Frankly, many don’t realize just how much time they’re wasting by trying to translate materials themselves or trying to find ways to engage non-English speakers without using translation.

We know your time is valuable. So is ours. That’s why it’s important to partner with a capable translation agency to take on some of your load. Check out the agency’s credentials. Speak to those they’ve worked with in the past. Ask for samples. Do what you need to do to feel confident that this agency is dependable and will provide an accurate translation by native speakers to put your own mind at ease.

Google Translate Isn’t Cutting It. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: sometimes Google Translate is sufficient for your needs. If you just need the gist of something translated, your language pairs are popular, and accuracy is not paramount, then using machine translation might be all you need.

But if accuracy and context are important to your project, then machine translation could end up causing you major issues. Bad translations can be extremely damaging to a brand or business, and it can destroy your credibility. If this is a worry for you, then it’s best to find a partner to allay these fears.

In the end, the only person who can decide if it’s time to find a partner is you. But remember that human translators are better at accuracy, context, localizing to different markets and cultures, and adapting to your needs than machine translation, and remember that you need to be able to trust your partner to provide these needs.

Your App Must Be Multilingual

Your App Must Be Multilingual 2500 1667 Atomic Scribe

You might notice the headline this week is a statement and not a request or suggestion. While usually here at Atomic Scribe we’re (kind of) gentle about our perception of the language services industry, this is a topic that we can 100 percent say without hesitation: you need to localize your app content to reach more people worldwide.

Because, simply, the app industry is worldwide, and it’s only going to grow in the coming years. While apps were previously most associated with gaming (which still commands a large part in the industry), with every passing day it seems to become so much more than that. Now apps provide a way to bank, shop, exercise, connect to coworkers and employees, talk to your doctor, video chat, get directions, find a place to eat, and on and on.

Given that 46 percent of app users report having paid for their apps, that’s big money, too. By 2017, it’s expected that over 268 billion downloads will generate $77 billion worth of revenue. —Entrepreneur, August 26, 2014

Users Prefer Native-Language Content

There are an estimated 400 million native English speakers worldwide, mostly in the United States and United Kingdom. Adding in secondary speakers, that number grows to a whopping 1.2 billion… but that still leaves out 6 billion people, or over 80 percent of the world’s population. That percentage could grow as the populations of India and French-speaking Africa increase more than any other region, as is predicted.

Those 800 million secondary speakers are also more likely to use an app or browse content in their first language if it’s available. According to a study conducted by Common Sense Advisory, 75 percent of participating consumers stated they prefer to buy products in their native language, and 60 percent claimed they rarely or never bought from English-only web sites. That is a huge amount of people one is missing out on by not translating content.

But here is the great news: it is incredibly easy to translate and localize your apps for new markets. Better yet, you don’t have to keep paying or pay per customer. You just pay for a translation once, and that’s it. As the revenue your app will generate by reaching millions of new people should make the initial investment worth it in no time, it’s a simple decision to make.

Sports and Translation: Bringing the World’s Biggest Sport to All

Sports and Translation: Bringing the World’s Biggest Sport to All 2500 1667 Atomic Scribe

The United States has long had an intense fascination with athletics, but until recently that largely excluded the world’s most beloved sport. While soccer (or football, for most everyone else) has captivated hearts worldwide for decades, it’s only just now taking root in the U.S. and becoming a big part of the sports landscape.

A lot of this is due to the Internet and Americans having much more access to matches than ever before. Gone are the days you’d have to scan a newspaper in the hope of finding the Premier League scores; now NBC shows over 300 matches a season live through the Internet and television.

What’s evident is that while soccer is itself a kind of language, there are still a lot of areas where the existence of multiple languages is causing issues. As you’d expect with the number one sport in the world, leagues and teams are made up of players from different countries with different native languages and cultures.

In fact, many teams in the Premier League in the United Kingdom have more non-native English speakers than English speakers. Chelsea Football Club, for example, has first team players from Brazil, Nigeria, Belgium, France, Spain, Germany, and more.

Worldwide Appeal

And it’s not just English-speaking leagues that are popular worldwide. Spain’s La Liga and Germany’s Bundesliga are also watched by millions and growing at extraordinary rates. In the United States, MLS is becoming known for talented foreign players, such as Thierry Henry and Kaka. The sport is growing everywhere, and so are barriers that different languages can create.

World Cup 2014: Record U.S. TV ratings sure sign of soccer’s rapid growth here

“What’s evident is that while soccer is itself a kind of language, there are still a lot of areas where the existence of multiple languages is causing issues.”

“What’s evident is that while soccer is itself a kind of language, there are still a lot of areas where the existence of multiple languages is causing issues.”

Bayern Munich Takes on English

A good example of teams reaching new markets is Germany’s biggest club, Bayern Munich. The Bavarian club has recently opened an office in New York, and they provide much of their online content in English, including their official site and a separate Twitter account for English speakers. Their site can be translated into Japanese, Arabic, Chinese, Russian, and Spanish as well.

Bayern Munich is the second most commercially profitable club in the world, having made almost €250 million in 2013, ahead of immensely profitable clubs like Manchester United and Real Madrid. Their commercial revenue helps them provide low ticket prices, which is considered a commodity that makes the Bundesliga so appealing to match-going fans and viewers alike.

Soccer clubs operate as worldwide businesses nowadays, and Bayern knows this. While the United States is seen as the next big moneymaker in the sport, there is also lots of potential in China, India, and in the countries of Africa for expanding the game. But to do this you need to be able to communicate.

How Translation Helps the Sport

The opportunities for using translation to reach current fans and new markets is endless. You can translate interviews, press releases, match reports, press conferences, news articles, players’ or clubs’ web sites, and so much more. Best of all, you pay for a translation once and then it’s yours forever, which means recouping the cost is much easier than with time-sensitive commodities.

Atomic Scribe can help. As passionate as fans are about soccer, that’s how we feel about translation. Both are arts, and both are best at the highest quality. The world’s biggest game also delivers the biggest audience, and we can reach them together.