Translation

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.

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.

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!

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.