How Have Advancements in Technology Influenced The Language Services Sector?
As Technology Continues to Improve, Language Services Must Learn To Adapt
delsurtranslations offers a seamless response to the language services industry’s ever-changing demands.
In The Beginning, There Was TEP
The world has changed. Users’ demands have changed, so the tools that people use to access information around the world also needs to change in order to meet these new needs.
– Virginia Minhondo, Managing Director-Partner, delsurtranslations
In order to understand today’s technological advances, we often need to revisit the past, and this is certainly true of the language services industry.
The art and science of translation has arguably been around for thousands of years. Throughout the millennia, the work of professional translators has been invaluable in breaking down linguistic and cultural barriers. In fact, the word, “translation” comes from the Latin term, translatio, meaning, “to carry across.”
Nowadays, professional translation services are needed in virtually every corner of the globe and for nearly every industry. But there is much more to translation than simply creating a source-to-target text. In fact, more than one person is often involved in the three-step translation process of translating, editing, and proofreading (TEP). TEP requires more than one set of eyes in order to ensure accuracy, consistency, and style appropriateness, something that the Argentinian-born company, delsurtranslations, is certainly familiar with.
In 2003, delsurtranslations was born to co-founders, Virginia Minhondo and Angelica Perez, two seasoned, professional translators. Very quickly after opening, the company began contracting with both multilingual vendors (MLVs) and single-language vendors (SLVs). From day one, the company has been offering comprehensive TEP services:
This step involves the transfer of content from the source language to the target language. In some cases, both a human and a computer-assisted translation tool are involved. The intent is to adapt the original text into the target language as accurately as possible without losing the intended meaning.
An editor assigned to this task must now review and evaluate the translation quality. This often means fine-tuning of the translated text with the help of a terminology database and style guide. This will ensure that the established and agreed-upon terms have been accurately and appropriately applied.
The proofreading stage requires the work of a linguist with native-level proficiency in the target language. Not only do proofreaders check for – and correct – inconsistencies, as well as spelling and/or grammatical errors, but they also ensure that the translated content flows naturally in the target language and that any subtleties or nuances have been appropriately addressed.
Many of delsurtranslations’s clients still require TEP, especially when it comes to certain types of texts and industries. But times have changed, and 16 years later, some of their clients’ needs have diversified. The first shift that the company noticed was toward machine translation post-editing (MTPE). When asked what has changed to make MTPE an important service offering to her clients, Virginia Minhondo explained that “the world has changed. Users’ demands have changed, so the tools that people use to access information around the world also needs to change in order to meet these new needs.”
Along Came MTPE
Some clients use MT for all of their projects across the board, and we provide the post-editing services. However, for other clients, we also offer comprehensive MTPE services in several language combinations. We’ve completed hundreds of MTPE projects in just the last two years alone.
– Angelica Perez, Business Development-Partner, delsurtranslations
Machine translation’s (MT’s) roots can arguably be found as far back as the seventeenth century with lively philosophical and mathematical discussions on the possibility of a “universal language.” But don’t worry – we’re not taking you back that far. In fact, we’re jumping way ahead, past the 1933 Petr Smirnov-Troyankii patent, past the infamous 1954 IBM 701 computer, and even past the embarrassing 1966 ALPAC committee’s findings that MT was just too expensive, inaccurate, and unimpressive to bother with. We’re instead, going back just ten years ago when delsurtranslations added expert MTPE to their list of offerings.
Simply put, MTPE refers to the human editing of translations that have been generated by a machine. Post-editors are charged with the task of evaluating these machine-generated translations. Sometimes only minimal modifications are necessary but there are times when more comprehensive post-editing is required. From improving overall comprehension, style, and fluency, to heavily correcting poorly translated text, post-editing is an integral part of the machine translation process.
For delsurtranslations, MTPE started over 10 years ago when one of their clients requested this service for the operating system of a well-known IT company – and delsur delivered. Since then, the company has been offering MTPE for several clients across a wide array of industries:
As Angelica Perez of delsurtranslations puts it, “some clients use MT for all of their projects across the board, and we provide the post-editing services. However, for other clients, we also offer comprehensive MTPE services in several language combinations. We’ve completed hundreds of MTPE projects in just the last two years alone.”
The emergence of neural machine translation (NMT) marks yet another turning point in the language services industry. It is so far, the greatest industry shift that the company has witnessed. In recent years, for example, several tech companies have started to develop their own engines that offer a great many benefits. Not only are some of these new engines publicly accessible and reasonably priced, but they offer better quality translation output and are fully compatible with most commonly-used CAT tools. These MT advancements have also greatly improved the entire translation process. NMT output is now much more accurate, saving considerable post-editing time.
The Training of Algorithms
With its years of experience offering professional MTPE services, delsurtranslations was more than ready to jump right in when their clients began requesting a new service – the training of algorithms. It wasn’t long before they began helping their clients with these new projects that fall beyond the regular TEP workflows and even go passed the current hype of MT and post-editing.
Several of the company’s clients serve the IT industry so there was a heightened demand to train their engines to produce better results – and once again, delsur delivered. For the past two years, the company’s language experts have been involved in the fine-tuning of these engine outputs to ensure higher-quality products, but their involvement doesn’t stop there. For many of the other algorithm-training tasks that aren’t directly language related, delsur’s clients turn to them for their dedicated commitment to every project, their high-level of responsiveness, and their uncanny ability to adapt to different demands.
Over the past two years, delsurtranslations has been involved in over a dozen algorithm-training projects, focusing on:
For delsur, this involves the recording of sentences in different Spanish variants in order to train the engines to understand various voice commands.
Sensitive topic training
First, the team translates content that focuses on highly-sensitive topics (terrorism, domestic violence, etc.). This translated text is then used to train engines to provide users with appropriate advice and guidance.
Optical Character Recognition (OCR) Training
From documents, signs, and product labels, to invoices, menus, and magazines, images of various types of everyday written materials are captured and fed into AI systems. This strengthens the accuracy and efficiency of the translations, and further helps to ensure that local references are not missed.
Usually used for general post-editing projects, “test sets” involves the debugging of the engines in order to teach them to produce the highest-quality of translation output.
The Real Test of a Reliable LSP is in its Ability to Adapt
Advancements in the language services industry influence our day-to-day operations. They change the demands of language services buyers which in turn affect the role of LSPs. Both MTPE and NMT are now in popular demand, and companies that can adapt to this ever-changing environment will stand the test of time. With its full-scale services and its seamless ability to adapt to ongoing advances in the language services industry, delsurtranslations is proving to be one such company.
Trust your translation, MTPE, and algorithm-training projects to delsurtranslations, and let the language services experts help you deliver a much more enhanced user experience for your clients. Contact delsurtranslations today.
* UPATE, July 5, 2019:
When Common Sense Advisory is talking about AI-driven capabilities and the importance of expanding an LSP’s standard service offerings in order to anticipate and satisfy our clients’ demands, we know we’re hitting the mark!