Saturday, 12 June 2021

Advanced googling for translators: WRG Take 5 Talk on 1 June 2021

How do translators go about finding correct and reliable words and phrases for use in their translations? This is where Google search operators can come in.
 

I recently gave a Take 5 Talk on advanced googling for translators to my local translators‘ and interpreters‘ association, the Western Regional Group (WRG), at its last online social on 1 June. The WRG has held regular online socials using Zoom since the pandemic took hold in the UK. The meeting on 1 June was hosted by Joint Social Media Officer Mariana Roccia.

 


To track down artificial intelligence terminology, you could use the intitle operator
to find webpages with either “glossary” or “dictionary” in the title




I shared insights into how I use Google search operators in my translations and my writing. Wildcards, the minus operator, site, intitle etc. are powerful tools which can be immensely useful: they help narrow down the hits returned by Google, extracting specific information that a less refined search query would not!

 


I shared insights in a Take 5 Talk into how I use Google search operators
to improve my translations and my writing




My talk was based on these two articles which recently appeared on this blog:

Must-know Google search operators for translators (part 1)
Must-know Google search operators for translators (part 2)

 

 

 



Friday, 7 May 2021

Do translators need to speak foreign languages?

“How many languages do you speak?”

“It must be amazing to be able to speak many different languages.”


 

These are remarks I frequently encounter when I mention I’m a translator. And I won’t tire of repeating: speaking languages isn’t something that translators usually do. Translators (unlike interpreters) do not necessarily have to be fluent, confident speakers of a foreign language.

 

“How many languages do you speak?”
It’s a question which I, as a translator, have been asked what seems like hundreds of times
(photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash)


 


Translators don’t speak many languages


Instead, the following skills are way more important – in fact, critical – to what translators do in their jobs:

- Translators need to be able to fully understand, capture and transfer the meaning, nuances and complexities of a text that has been written in a foreign language.

- Translators need to put their antennas out to sense the finer subtleties of any language around them, with the aim of exploiting language observations in their translations.
 
- Translators need to be skilled in writing well.

 

Translation work is written work

 

This means I’m a translator, but I don’t speak many languages. For example, I offer translations from Italian, but I admit I don’t speak Italian well. I can read and understand (and obviously translate from) Italian, but my spoken Italian is rusty, to say the least.

I’m also learning Swedish because I’m keen to be able to speak and understand it; however, Swedish is a language that’s never going to feature in my job. The basic Swedish speaking skills which I’ve acquired are worlds away from the highly specialised work required in professional translation.

 

Native language skills: a translator’s most important toolset

 

Translators don’t tend (or need) to jump at opportunities to speak, because written language is the tool that they predominantly work with. As a German translator, I therefore constantly work on sharpening my German writing skills. To this end, I routinely expose myself to language around me, by reading, listening to and observing language.

 

Translators don’t tend (or need) to jump at opportunities to speak,
because written language is the tool that they predominantly work with
(photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pixabay)


Finally, whilst the ability to speak a foreign language isn’t a prerequisite of the translator’s job, there’s no doubt that it is a beneficial additional skill that will stand a translator in good stead. The ability to strike up a conversation with a new business contact, for example, may help translators acquire clients of a wholly different calibre. 

 

“How many languages do you speak?” It’s a question which I, as a translator, have been asked what seems like hundreds of times, but which still leaves me stumped for an answer. Perhaps my answer should simply be: “I don’t need to speak much in my job. Translators produce written translations, and I translate texts from English and Italian into German.”



Monday, 5 April 2021

Becoming a specialist translator

To succeed and prosper as a translator, it’s no longer enough to just be a translator: you need to be a specialist translator. These days it is more important than ever to develop an in-depth understanding of one or more specialist fields – ideally something that will hold your interest enough to make you want to explore it ever more deeply.


The unusual nature of translators’ CPD

To become well versed in a special area of work, translators are first and foremost required to read widely around their chosen subject, especially in their target language (i.e. the language they translate into). For me this means: since I’m a German native speaker and am qualified to translate into German only, I read a lot in German with a view to improving my translation skills.

As I regularly deal with computing patents in my job, some of the “informal CPD” that I engage in is reading computer programming books in German. I read them predominantly in German because I’m required to learn how IT contexts are phrased correctly and idiomatically in German. Reading technical books enables me to take mental notes of typical words or text conventions.

 

To succeed and prosper as a translator these days, it’s no longer enough
to just be a translator: you need to be a specialist translator

(photo by Elisabeth Hippe-Heisler: Raspberry Pi)


Should translators’ CPD be focused on studying translations?

But wouldn’t it be better if I read not just German IT texts, but instead compared them meticulously side by side with similar texts in English (if available)? This is a valid question I was once asked, and I agree this would indeed be a good approach. However, I also feel that not all translators’ CPD needs to be translation-related to be useful.

In an actual translation project (and in the areas I work in), my “translator brain” will in many situations be able to match terms and phrases picked up in my monolingual reading with the corresponding terms and phrases in the text I’m translating. For instance, when I’m faced with translating pseudocode in a patent, I will then know that certain words in the code should ideally be in English in the German translation, while any embedded explanatory programmer’s notes (which, for instance, are preceded by a hash sign) will be readily translatable into German.

 

I am first and foremost a language specialist, and the type of activity
which I perform as a translator is a language activity, not a hands-on activity

(photo by Elisabeth Hippe-Heisler: extract from book
"Einstieg in Python" by Thomas Theis)
 


Acquiring a subject specialism in translation

I love complementing my CPD reading activities with some hands-on experience by occasionally typing up the code explained in my books in a development environment. I derive pleasure from seeing with my own eyes that the theory works in practice! Sometimes, though, the programmes that I type up won’t run and I can’t figure out why, but here’s the thing (and this will probably surprise anyone reading this who is not a translator):

Absorbing and memorising the language that’s used to describe the context in question is more relevant to me and my translation work than actually succeeding in running the programme. For in the end the type of activity which I perform to provide my services is a language activity, not a hands-on activity. I am first and foremost a language specialist. I’m a language specialist who has acquired a subject semi-specialism.


To succeed and prosper as a translator these days, it is no longer enough to just be a translator. In this post I set out one of my approaches to specialising as a translator, which has been highly effective and successful.


Friday, 19 March 2021

GDPR training with the Western Regional Group on 12 March 2021

On 12 March 2021 the ITI Western Regional Group (WRG) ran an online training event about GDPR. It featured a high-quality, information-packed presentation by Viviana Mucharraz, commercial legal advisor at Carbon Law Partners, which specialises in GDPR for businesses. It had been organised with superb efficiency and was facilitated by WRG member and former WRG Events Officer Sandra Mouton.

Viviana’s presentation provided a clear insight into GDPR obligations and the use of associated terminology: a “data controller” (for example an end client) is the person who decides how and why data is collected and processed, whereas a “data processor” (for example a freelance translator or interpreter) is a separate person or organisation processing such data on the controller’s behalf and in accordance with the controller’s instructions. Controllers have the highest level of compliance responsibility, whereas processors do not have the same level of obligations.


For GDPR purposes it is necessary to always
consider the purpose for which data is processed


 

The distinction between these roles depends on the particulars of each situation: an end client, an agency or a freelance translator or interpreter may act as a controller or a processor or as both! Viviana set out useful criteria and discussed how to ensure compliance in general. She explained that data is personal data if it relates to an identifiable living individual. Data processing covers almost any use of data: collecting, recording, storing, analysing, combining, disclosing and even deleting it!


She stressed that it is necessary to always consider the purpose for which data is processed or for which it is kept once an assignment has been completed. Keeping data may be acceptable, for example to comply with the provisions of an insurance policy (for a new purpose), even if an instruction (for a previous purpose) has been given not to keep such data. In this scenario it would be necessary to take steps to be able to demonstrate that such data was kept for a new purpose.


Viviana’s illuminating presentation was followed by a question and answer session, in which she provided comprehensive answers to the many burning questions on translation- and interpreting-related GDPR issues from attendees. None of her information should be taken as legal advice, but she advised us to generally err on the side of caution (which may involve deleting personal data on our systems after it has been used) and to demand written documentation of any work instructions.


The afternoon moved along at a brisk pace and was rounded off with an insightful talk by John O’Shea from FIT Europe about a recent survey conducted among translators and interpreters about GDPR. Findings from the survey include that there is widespread confusion about and low awareness of GDPR and that the availability of privacy policy templates would be desirable.


The Western Regional Group would like to thank both speakers and Sandra Mouton for a thoroughly useful event. GDPR issues inevitably are a part of all our businesses. The event has equipped us with the knowledge necessary to better deal with many of these issues in future.

 


 

Thursday, 18 March 2021

Must-know Google search operators for translators (part 2)

Google search operators are powerful tools which translators can employ to create correct and idiomatic translations. They help narrow down the hits returned by Google, extracting specific information that a less refined search query would not.

The headache of online searches these days is that many of the words and phrases found online are unreliable, fishy or incorrect. How do translators go about finding correct and reliable words and phrases for use in their translations?


This blog post is the continuation of my previous blog post "Must-know Google search operators for translators (part 1)", which you can find here.

 

Focused internet searches are vital to the specialised work of translators
and can be powerfully aided by Google search operators

 
 

Reading a Google result
 

It is necessary to understand how a Google result is read.

When I enter, for example, the search words "Elisabeth Hippe-Heisler" into the Google search bar (known as "search query"), this is one of the results that will be displayed by Google:

 



The URL, which stands for Uniform Resource Locator, is the address of a given unique resource on the web.

The title is the title which the author of the webpage has added to the webpage.

The search words "Elisabeth Hippe-Heisler" will be displayed in bold in an extract from the webpage text.

 
Note that all examples which I’ve given below are based on translations from English to German (the main language combination I work with), but are, of course, applicable to any language combination.
 

The most helpful Google search operators for translators (part 2) 

 

intitle: 

The intitle: operator serves to search for words likely to appear in the title of a website. It is called “title” because in the underlying HTML code <title> tags are used:




Example:

Since machine learning and artificial intelligence are a frequent topic of my patent translations, I often need to equip myself with relevant English/German glossaries before embarking on my translation. It is possible to track down webpages with the German word “Glossar” or the English word “glossary” in the title.

 

The following search query will bring up 74 glossaries with either “Glossar” or “glossary” as well as “künstliche Intelligenz” (German for “artificial intelligence”) in the title.

intitle:Glossar|glossary intitle:"künstliche Intelligenz" 

 

For a more minimal use of words in my search query, I could alternatively shorten the search query as follows: 

allintitle:Glossar|glossary "künstliche Intelligenz"

 


Example: 

Say I’m thinking of using the term “Beacon-Frame” in my German translation, but am unsure whether it is a term that’s typically used in a German data communications context. Assuming further that I trust the reliability of terms on the itwissen.info site (or say I’ve been instructed to use this site for reference), I can then test for this term by typing the following query into Google:

"Beacon Frame" intitle:itwissen 

 

2 Google search hits will confirm to me that “Beacon-Frame” is used on itwissen.info. This convinces me it is appropriate to use the translation “Beacon-Frame” in my German translation.


The tilde symbol 

The tilde symbol ~ is the Google operator for finding synonyms.

 

Example:

To broaden my search for German deep learning-related glossaries, I can either use the OR operator | (the pipe symbol) and include various synonyms for “Glossar” (German for “glossary”) in my hunt for German glossaries:

"deep learning" intitle:glossar|begriffe|fachbegriffe|lexikon|terminologie 

 

Or so as to have to type less, I could simply use the tilde symbol:

"deep learning" ~intitle:glossar
 

Who (apart from translators and writers) uses Google to track down synonyms? Note: the tilde operator was deprecated several years ago, but I'm listing it here anyway, not least to demonstrate that Google will sometimes drop support for operators if usage is low!


related: 

The related: search operator is used to find sites similar to the one that is useful to me. 

 

Example: 

epo.org is the European Patent Office’s website, so related:epo.org will bring up other IP-related sites relevant to me as a patent translator as I can consequently extract useful terminology from them.

 


 


filetype:

The filetype: operator serves to limit searches to a specific file format of documents I want to look at online.

 
Example: 

Many reliable glossaries are contained in and available on the web as PDF files. If I’m required to collect glossaries for a mechatronics translation and, for instance, want to restrict my search to PDF files, I could use the following search query:


Mechatronik intitle:glossar|glossary filetype:pdf

 

Combinations of search operators (for example site: and intitle:) 

There are obviously lots of ways in which search operators can be combined for more efficient web searching! For example, one particularly useful way of tracking down terminology for a translation is combining the site: and intitle: search operators.


Example: 

Say it occurs to me that the expression “operatively connected” (or “operatively coupled”), which is typically used in patents, has already been discussed by translators on ProZ.com and I want to take a look at the discussion around this expression. 

English-to-German glossaries in the KudoZ database on ProZ.com are listed at http://www.proz.com/glossary-translations/english-to-german-glossaries, and they all have the words “English to German” in the browser title bar. For quick access to KudoZ results right from my Google search bar, I therefore usually use the following search command:

operatively intitle:"English to German" site:proz.com

 



Conclusion


Focused internet searches are vital to the specialised work of translators and can be powerfully aided by Google search operators. Google search operators are strings of characters that are added to a search engine query to help narrow down the hits returned by Google and produce more accurate translations.

 

This blog post is the continuation of my previous blog post "Must-know Google search operators for translators (part 1)", which you can find here.