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Language Intelligence for Life Sciences
Partner with Seasoned Language Services Providers
For years, many of the world’s life sciences researchers have collaborated with one another in any number of ways. Whether on short-term projects or on larger international collaborative partnerships, researchers have recognized the immense value in joining forces with the world’s greatest minds. In fact, this collaboration has become essential in the face of a great many global health threats from the AIDS epidemic to the growing concern over climatic changes.
American Thoracic Society
Perhaps one of the most well-known examples of global collaboration in life sciences is that of the American Thoracic Society (ATS). Established in 1905, ATS now works in partnership with the European Respiratory Society, the Latin American Thoracic Society, the Asian Pacific Society of Respirology, and the World Health Organization (WHO), among many others.
As an international organization, “ATS is committed to improving lung health around the globe”1 and now boasts membership from 129 countries as it strives to meet its goal through five primary pillars:
- Pursuing a broad global health policy
- Engaging and collaborating with international health organizations
- Providing global education research, and research training
- Engaging ATS members to participate in global initiatives
- Providing technical assistance and other capacity to build support2
With such a diverse membership, how does ATC – or any life sciences research center for that matter – effectively communicate its research and education among all its members? Simply put, translation and localization play a key role. Not only must their published documents and guidelines go through a rigorous translation process, but they sometimes need to be localized to be clearly understood by a specific cultural or regional group. In the west, for example, smoking is the most common cause for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, in other parts of the world, the main cause is likely due to cooking fumes or even sandstorms such as is the case in the Middle East or in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is of critical importance then, that all research documentation is accurately translated to reflect these differences.3
Outside of the medical research field, it is equally as important for all organizations within the life sciences field to invest in professional translation services.
Regulatory Compliance for Life Sciences Translations
It cannot be overstated how imperative it is to ensure all documents within the life sciences industry are accurately translated. From package inserts on food and drug labels to medical device instructions, not only can inaccurate translations lead to physical harm, but they can also result in a patient’s loss of life.
In France, between 2004 and 2005, four patients being treated for prostate cancer died and dozens more were adversely affected with overdoses of radiation that lasted for over a year. How did this happen? The software that defined the doses to be administered had not been translated into French by the US medical device manufacturer. As a result, the hospital relied on bilingual staff members who inaccurately translated the instructions. In Germany, between 2006 and 2007, 47 patients received botched knee replacements. After a thorough investigation, it was determined that one of the root causes was again, inaccuracies in translation. The original outer package of the prosthesis which was written in English was not translated into German. Again, the hospital relied on a staff member to provide the translation, and again the translation was inaccurate, resulting in patient harm.4
Partner With Life Sciences LSPs
In the United States, Drs. Iman Sharif and Julia Tse surveyed a total of 286 pharmacies in the Bronx, New York where nearly 50 percent of the population speaks Spanish. The survey set out to find out whether the participating pharmacies provided medicine labels in Spanish to their Spanish-speaking customers. Although roughly three-quarters did provide Spanish translations, the vast majority relied on machine translation. When the doctors examined 76 of the computer-generated translations, they found serious mistakes “which resulted in an overall error rate of 50%.”5
Translation requirements within the Life Sciences sector can vary greatly depending on the product and the intended audience. Whether you require pharmaceutical or medical device translations at the local, national, or international level, each of these target markets will likely have its own established regulatory body and standards. It is imperative that pharmaceutical companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, biotechnology companies, clinical research organizations (CROs), food and drug manufacturers, and manufacturers of medical and surgical devices invest in language service providers (LSPs) that specialize in life sciences. When it comes to instructions of use, adverse events reports, regulatory compliance documents, or virtually any documentation that affects patient safety, investing in a team of seasoned medical translators can literally save lives.
Instill confidence in the world at large by placing your trust in LSPs with life sciences expertise, stringent quality control processes, and a firm handle on all regulatory laws within the United States and abroad.
1 Butrous, Ghazwan. “International Cooperation to Promote Advances in Medicine.” Annals of Thoracic Medicine, Medknow Publications, July 2008, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2700441/.
2 American Thoracic Society – Global Health, https://www.thoracic.org/about/global-public-health/.
3 Butrous, Ghazwan. “International Cooperation to Promote Advances in Medicine.” Annals of Thoracic Medicine, Medknow Publications, July 2008, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2700441/.
4 “Translation Errors Can Have a Dramatic Impact on Patient Safety.” Excel Translations, 16 July 2018, https://exceltranslations.com/translation-errors-impact-patient-safety/.
5 Sharif, Iman, and Julia Tse. “Accuracy of Computer-Generated, Spanish-Language Medicine Labels.” Pediatrics, U.S. National Library of Medicine, May 2010, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3118429/.
Carreen Schroeder Healthcare, Public, Research, Sponsored Content, Translation and Interpreting HCAHPS, healthcare industry, healthcare translation, HRRP, medical translation, Outsourcing translation, Section 1557, Translation industry, US Language Access Laws
Bridging The Communication Gap
Professional Translation Services For The Healthcare Industry
There is no other country quite as diverse as the United States. Not only is it home to more immigrants than any other country on the planet, but within the US immigrant population, nearly every country in the world is represented.1 And when it comes to language, 67 million residents speak a language other than English (LOTE) at home.2
According to the Pew Research Center, although the portion of the immigrant population who speaks English very well has increased from 27% to 36% (from 1980 to 2017), the share of those who speak English at home has decreased by nearly 47% during the same time period. With such linguistic and cultural diversity, how does the federal government ensure that its limited-English proficient (LEP) population receives effective communication, especially when it comes to their healthcare and health coverage needs?
Recent studies have shown that by investing in quality language-access services, healthcare facilities stand to save money and improve patient outcomes.3 The federal government has also implemented several regulations to further encourage healthcare facilities and health insurance companies to invest in language-access services. One regulation in particular is Section 1557, the nondiscrimination provision of the Affordable Care Act.
Under this section, any healthcare facility, health insurance company, or community-based organization that receives Medicare, Medicaid, or “other” reimbursement from federal health programs must post taglines and notices of nondiscrimination that inform LEP patients of the availability of language-assistance services. These entities must further “take reasonable steps to provide meaningful access to each individual with LEP.”4
Taglines and Notices of Nondiscrimination
Under the current law, written taglines must be translated into no less than the top 15 languages spoken by the LEP population of each respective state. These taglines (which are sent to patients, health insurance enrollees, beneficiaries, and/or members of the public), explain the nondiscrimination policies and notify recipients of the availability of free language-assistance services.
In order to remain legally compliant, healthcare facilities must also ensure that their LEP patients have access to “vital” documents in the language of their choice. When considering whether or not to classify a document as “vital”, these facilities must determine the seriousness of consequences to LEP patients should the information not be provided in their language.
For healthcare facilities, some of these documents may include consent forms, complaint forms, intake forms, letters outlining a patient’s rights, documents that must be provided by law, as well as discharge and post-surgery instructions. For health insurance companies, these documents may include applications, letters regarding insurance eligibility or benefits, as well as documents outlining the reduction, delay, limitation, denial, or termination of insurance benefits.
Summary of Benefits Coverage and the Uniform Glossary
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), both insurers and employers are responsible for creating and distributing a Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) for full-insured plans, but for self-insured plans, only the employer is responsible for the SBC creation and distribution. SBCs disclose both benefit and coverage information such as what procedures are covered, information on cost-sharing provisions and exclusions, examples of coverage, as well as websites and telephone numbers for customer service. All SBCs written in the English language must also include information on the availability of written language services in the required languages. Further, should specific thresholds be met, a “group health plan or health insurance issuer must provide the SBC in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner.”5
All health insurers are additionally responsible for providing a “Uniform Glossary” which helps to explain complicated or confusing terms associated with the health insurance provided. Should the insurance plan cover LEP individuals, the Uniform Glossary may need to be translated into the appropriate languages.
Healthcare Translation Projects are in High Demand
The need to meet these federal and state language-access regulations has skyrocketed in recent years. Translating healthcare-related documents not only requires full medical regulatory compliance, but also quality control management. With an increased demand for technical precision, linguistic accuracy, and subject matter expertise, language service providers (LSPs) that take on healthcare translation projects must come to the table well equipped.
Healthcare translation is a highly specialized field and plays a particularly critical role in the US healthcare industry. Accurate and timely translations have been proven to help strengthen communication between healthcare professionals and LEP individuals, which in turn, helps to improve workflow and decrease errors. With such high demands, LSPs must be able to confidently handle large-scale and rush translation projects, offering not only a pool of seasoned and experienced linguists but additional professionals as well, who are fully acquainted with the unique needs of the industry within the United States.
LSPs that offer healthcare-related translation services should also be able to expertly translate all healthcare-related, patient-facing documents, from the Evidence of Coverage (EOC) and the Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) documents, to explanations of benefits, types of coverage, instructions on filing a claim, and discharge and post-surgery instructions. But some LSPs go even further, offering not only translations from native speakers of the target language, but also desktop publishing (DTP), subject matter expert advice, and a range of services that go from mainstream translation, editing, and proofreading (TEP) to bilingual or monolingual review, and post-editing of machine translated texts. And when same-day turnaround time (TAT) is also added to the mix, these LSPs help healthcare organizations and health insurance companies save both time and money.
Strategic Partners in the Healthcare Field
With over 15 years of professional translation experience coupled with successful, long-lasting partnerships with clients throughout the United States and a staff well-versed in US government regulations, delsurtranslations ensures your healthcare documents are federally compliant and strictly adhere to all Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) regulations.
With no rush overcharge and a customized approach to each client’s needs, including the implementation of preferred CAT tools, delsurtranslations is your one-stop shop for all of your healthcare-related translation projects. When it comes to the sensitive nature and intricate terminology within the healthcare field, place your trust in your strategic partners – delsurtranslations.
1 “Key Findings about U.S. Immigrants.” Pew Research Center, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/06/17/key-findings-about-u-s-immigrants/.
2 “Almost Half Speak a Foreign Language in America’s Largest Cities.” CIS.org, https://cis.org/Report/Almost-Half-Speak-Foreign-Language-Americas-Largest-Cities.
3 Psqh. “Language Access: Meeting Patient Needs While Increasing Compliance and Improving Outcomes.” Patient Safety & Quality Healthcare, 20 May 2019, https://www.psqh.com/analysis/language-access-meeting-patient-needs-while-increasing-compliance-and-improving-outcomes/.
4 HHS Office of the Secretary,Office for Civil Rights, and Ocr. “Section 1557: Frequently Asked Questions.” HHS.gov, US Department of Health and Human Services, 18 May 2017, https://www.hhs.gov/civil-rights/for-individuals/section-1557/1557faqs/index.html.
5 “Summary of Benefits and Coverage and Uniform Glossary.” Federal Register, 30 Dec. 2014, https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2014/12/30/2014-30243/summary-of-benefits-and-coverage-and-uniform-glossary.
Carreen Schroeder Healthcare, Public, Research, Sponsored Content, Translation and Interpreting HCAHPS, healthcare industry, healthcare translation, HRRP, medical translation, Outsourcing translation, Section 1557, Translation industry, US Language Access Laws
Partner With Healthcare Language Services Providers
Because Sometimes You Just Can’t Do It Alone
America — A Multilingual Mosaic
America – the home of the brave, the land of the free, and a proud nation built by immigrants. For the past 243 years, the United States has continued to welcome people from every corner of the globe. Today, there are nearly 45 million US residents who were born in another country, accounting for just under 14 percent of the total US population.
U.S. Spanish-speaking and LEP Population
Today, more than 20% of the US-population speaks a language other than English (LOTE) at home, over 60% of whom are native Spanish speakers. In fact, by 2050, the US Census office predicts that the United States will be home to roughly 138 million Spanish speakers, which would make America the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world. How cool is that?
Although the vast majority of residents with limited English proficiency (LEP) lives in southern and coastal regions of the United States, the US-LOTE population spans the entire country.
So, how has the federal government responded to a growing linguistically-diverse population?
Language Access Laws for the Healthcare Industry
Some of the newest regulations that readily come to mind include the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP), Section 1557, and the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey. Each of these regulations can result in either significant financial loss or gain in federal funding — the trick lies with language access. Healthcare facilities that provide patients with appropriate language access lessen the chances of monetary penalties and increase the likelihood of monetary rewards.
With so much at stake, many healthcare providers are turning to LSPs to assist in ensuring they remain legally compliant.
Healthcare Language Services
Under federal protections, LEP patients have the right to receive qualified medical interpreting services at no charge. Medical interpreters offer their services in any one of three modalities, including in-person (IPI), over the phone (OTP), and via video remote technology (VRI).
In addition to interpreting services, LEP patients also require the translation of their healthcare-related documentation. Due to the critically important nature of these documents, translation should only be handled by qualified professionals who are properly trained in medical terminology. When vital information is not translated in an effective, accurate, and timely fashion, a healthcare facility’s (or insurance company’s) reputation — not to mention a patient’s well-being— may be put at risk.
When organizations work to bridge the language gap for their patients and place value on patient-provider communication, they improve outcomes for all. Not only has improved language access shown to lower the 30-day readmission rates, but it has also increased overall patient satisfaction. Insurance companies who invest in professional translation services also stand to win, as they are likely to increase their client base.
Best Practices in Healthcare Translation – It’s as Easy as 1, 2, 3!
Choosing a translation partner to handle your clients’ healthcare documents can be a daunting task. Not only is it both difficult and time consuming to sift through the hundreds of translation companies on the market all claiming to offer the same services, but keeping apprised of government regulations and industry advancements takes a toll.
In the United States, government policies related to healthcare change quickly, and healthcare-related documents need to be continuously updated to reflect these changes. Frequent advancements in medical and pharmaceutical treatments also require translation for a growing multilingual audience. How can single-language (SLVs) and multi-language vendors (MLVs) choose the right translation partner for their projects? Lucky for you, we’ve boiled it down to three key steps that companies can take to find their ideal translation partners.
1. Industry Specialists
Look for translation companies with expertise in the healthcare field. Do they have experience with medical and pharmaceutical translation? Do they demonstrate in-depth knowledge of industry-specific terminology? Are they up-to-date with government regulations that affect the healthcare sector? Asking the right questions will help you to narrow down your choices.
2. Advanced Technology
Search for translation companies that use specialized translation software that enables accurate and efficient translation of multiple documents and has the capability of translating various types of documentation. It is also imperative that the technology is proven to offer the strictest standards in security and confidentiality as you are dealing with highly sensitive information. There is even translation technology that allows for translation memory and dynamic machine learning, among other features. Shop around to find an LSP that offers translation and other related services that suit your unique needs.
3. Linguistic Expertise
For those of us in the language services industry, we understand that translation means a lot more than simply word-to-word correspondence. In fact, translation is as much an art form as it is a science, and translators who have an intimate understanding of both the source and target language’s culture, history, values, and norms will be in a much better position to offer accurate, culturally-relevant translations.
When actively seeking out your next healthcare translation partner, don’t be afraid to ask these three essential questions:
- Does the company offer native speakers in the target language/s?
- Does the professional translation team offer additional services such as PMs and DTP?
- Are there subject matter experts (SMEs) onboard?
Finding the Right Partner is Like Icing on the Cake
It’s that high season again in the United States — translation volumes for the healthcare industry skyrocket and the demands for quick turnaround times increase. MLVs and SLVs are once again on the hunt for translation partners that can seamlessly handle large volumes of work. Ideally, finding a partner that can handle translation, editing, and proofreading (TEP), as well as desktop publishing (DTP) and other language-related services would be a welcomed gift this time of year.
It is also important however, to find partners that have in-depth healthcare industry knowledge, advanced technology capabilities, and linguistic expertise. But that’s not all. Finding a company that also excels in the Spanish language (including all of its linguistic variations) would be the proverbial icing on the cake, and delsurtranslations might just be that icing — or should we say, “la cereza del pastel?”
At delsurtranslations, you’ll find a dedicated team of translation professionals who not only offer all language and graphic design services, but who also offer a staff of native Spanish speakers well versed in the diverse linguistic variations of the Spanish language. delsur’s seasoned project management team handles high volumes of healthcare translation work even during the busy season, providing you with a one-stop shop for all of your healthcare translation needs.
Give delsurtranslations a call today — they have you covered!
1 Hispanics’ buying power in the U.S., 1990-2020. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/251438/hispanics-buying-power-in-the-us/
2 Burton, J. (2015, December 30). The Most Spoken Languages In America. Retrieved from https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-most-spoken-languages-in-america.html
Carreen Schroeder Public, Research, Sponsored Content, Technology, Translation and Interpreting Cultural Intelligence and sensitivity, Diverse Acquired Intelligence, Hard skills, LSPs, Project management, Soft skills, Translation industry, Translation project management
The Translation Project Manager's Balancing Act How To Effectively Employ Both Soft and Hard Skills
Translation Project Managers (PMs) are the industry’s behind-the-scenes masterminds and the single-points of contact, taking every project from the starting point to the finish line.
Translation Project Management
If you work within the language services industry, chances are you are no stranger to translation project management (TPM). Whether you work as, for, or with a project manager (PM), you are likely aware of the vast array of responsibilities that land squarely on the shoulders of these professionals.
Often considered to be the ties that bind, PMs play a critical role in the day-to-day operations within the language services industry. But what exactly is their role? If you ask some of your colleagues to define translation project management, you’ll likely get a different answer every time. And although all would surely agree that “effective leadership” is one of the core skills of all successful project managers, what exactly does that mean? Let’s take a closer look at what TPM is, and what skills are found in an effective project manager’s toolbelt.
Translation project management isn’t for the faint of heart
A project manager’s role goes well beyond exceptional leadership and organizational skills. PMs are catalysts who effect change when and where needed. With an uncanny ability to survey the land and see the whole picture, they measure risks both up and downstream. These skilled professionals manage client expectations and translator expertise while also balancing time and budget constraints – all this while keeping quality and service at the forefront.
[pullquote]Project management is the balancing act of using both interpersonal and acquired skills – and “balance” is the key word here.[/pullquote]The language services industry requires individuals who can meet the demands of a fast-paced, multicultural, and global environment. This requires much more than just staying abreast of the latest technologies or touting yourself as an expert who builds lasting, personal connections.Translation project management requires a strong foundation in communication and cultural awareness coupled with a commitment to ongoing industry-specific education. In other words, it’s the perfect blend of both soft and hard skills, of both art and science. Celeste Broder, a Certified Localization Project Manager with delsurtranslations refers to project management as “the balancing act of using both interpersonal and acquired skills – and ‘balance’ is the key word here.”
Cultural Intelligence & Sensitivity (CIS)
The term “soft skills” has been used time and again in the field of project management, almost to the point of exhaustion. And although soft skills are critical to success, this is much too general a term for language services. It just doesn’t strike at the very heart of what it means to be a PM in our industry – but “cultural intelligence and sensitivity” (CIS) does. So, we’re shaking things up a bit. We’re challenging old terms and injecting something new into the mix.
Effective Communication Within Language Services
Across the vast ecosystem of all-things-project-management, PMs encourage, inspire, and motivate. They are regarded as team builders with expert skills in negotiating, decision making, and conflict resolution. [pullquote]Being aware of sensitive topics within each society … informs our approach to our customers and vendors, and helps to ensure the success of each and every project.[/pullquote]It is through their leadership that trust is built and strengthened. But in the world of language services, project managers must go a few steps further. After all, they are dealing with both a domestic and international audience. In fact, they often work with cross-cultural teams, spanning several countries – it doesn’t get more global than that.
Effective communication within language services requires an intimate understanding of multicultural clients and team members, from how they respond to authority to how they handle constructive criticism. PMs must devise innovative ways to bridge any communication gaps that exist in this unique environment. They must learn to turn unexpected issues into opportunities in order to improve processes and create the best possible solutions for both clients and team members alike.
Certified Localization Project Manager, Belen Barbeito, describes cultural intelligence and sensitivity as “being aware of sensitive topics within each society (including religion, politics, habits, and a list of endless small – yet very important – details) informs our approach to our customers and vendors, and helps to ensure the success of each and every project.”
Diverse Acquired Intelligence (DAI)
Although jobs in project management are widespread across many industries, each sector requires a unique set of hard skills to meet the demands of their clients and team members. This is certainly evident in language services due in large part to the global nature of the industry. “Diverse Acquired Intelligence” (DAI) then, paints a much clearer picture of the hard skills needed to become a successful PM.
To understand just how wide-ranging these acquired skills are, consider a bird’s eye view of just one translation project. From kickoff to completion, each project requires full contract compliance. PMs must acquire expertise in contract management and procurement, risk management, project performance monitoring, budgeting and scheduling, planning, execution, and delivery. In order to meet these demands, technology that caters to translation project management plays a central role.
New Technologies and Project Management Tools
New technological advancements drive innovation and oftentimes change the very way translation and localization projects are initiated, managed, and delivered. Technology facilitates the bidding process and provides intelligent project workflows. Real-time status updates coupled with powerful analytics help to make informed decisions, increase overall productivity, and streamline global projects, greatly facilitating a PM’s job. By continually advancing their technological knowledge, project managers help teams – and companies – remain both relevant to the industry and desirable to their growing clientele.
Part and parcel with technology are the tools that every effective project manager keeps in their toolbelt. From TMS systems, CAT tools, and QA software, to task management and communication systems, these specialized programs are becoming as varied as the global industry we serve. Some provide performance metrics data and work breakdown structures, while others offer project reporting and tracking, the balancing of budgets, billing and invoicing, task delegation, scheduling, and more. The challenge then, isn’t in finding the necessary tools, but in choosing the appropriate ones.
How To Succeed As A Translation Project Manager
[pullquote]Flexibility and an eagerness to learn about our clients and about industry advancements have helped us acquire new and diverse intelligence for the benefit of all.[/pullquote]
Certified Localization Project Manager, Cecilia Cañete, points out that “the acquisition of new, more effective communication channels and advanced process automation, along with new techniques and technologies help us remain relevant and desirable in the industry. Flexibility and an eagerness to learn about our clients and about industry advancements have helped us acquire new and diverse intelligence for the benefit of all.”
Let’s face it – translation project management is a complex and daunting field. It involves the highest level of coordination of — and control over — a multitude of tasks. Project Managers are not only responsible for the smooth operation of an entire team of linguists and other professionals (engineers, DTPers, content creators, etc), but they must also keep their clients happy. While effectively overseeing each stage of a translation and localization project, PMs must also maintain an environment conducive to teamwork and cooperation. It’s the quintessential balancing act.
Successful project managers certainly require proficiency in any number of hard skills, but they equally require diplomacy, tact, and effective, global communication skills. In other words, effective TPM boils down to cultural intelligence and sensitivity (CIS) coupled with diverse-acquired intelligence (DAI). Delsurtranslations PMs have mastered both. Not only have they succeeded in managing their teams in a global setting, but they have also helped to build trust and loyalty across the board.
If you are looking for strategic partners with decades of experience in translation project management, contact delsurtranslations.
The Translation Project Management Dream Team at delsurtranslations
Carreen Schroeder Public, Research, Sponsored Content, Technology LSPs, Machine Translation, MT, MTPE, Neural Machine Translation, NMT, post-editing, Translation, Translation industry, Translation quality
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!
Alfred Mtawali, CAN Translators Clear, Accurate, Natural
Alfred Mtawali is the CEO of CAN Translators, a language services company based in Nairobi, Kenya. CAN Translators provides translation, editing, proofreading, transcription, and interpreting for 20 African languages, and for a growing number of languages in Asia and throughout Europe. A consummate professional, Alfred shares with us, the three critical ingredients in quality translation.
Translators breathe life into each page
If you talk to Alfred Mtawali, CEO of CAN Translators, he will tell you that clarity, accuracy, and a natural rhythm are the three main ingredients that must be present in each and every translation. If even one of these ingredients is missing, throw out your work and start again. For Alfred, translation is so much more than word-to-word association. Translators breathe life into each page. They ensure that the translation is not only flawless, but that the intended meaning is seamlessly conveyed. Translators are truly passionate about their craft. Their services are customized to meet each client’s needs. They are consummate professionals whose language qualifications, industry experience, cultural sensitivity, and pristine writing skills are second to none. No. A machine cannot do all that. Just play around a little with Google Translate and you’ll get the idea.
Quality translation is like music to the ears
In Alfred Mtawali’s unique philosophical style, he manages to bridge a connection between a harmonious guitar melody and the perfect translation.
“What comes to mind when you think of a person strumming a guitar? Maybe it’s how seamlessly the guitarist strums the strings to produce such a crisp, melodic sound. Maybe it’s how naturally each guitar string seems to blend into the next, or perhaps it’s how clearly each note rings out. No matter what you conjure up, an accomplished guitarist ensures every note is:
But what happens when the strings are a bit out of tune, the guitarist misses a chord, or the strumming has lost its rhythm? The quality suffers.”
For Alfred, it’s as simple as that. Professional translators are not that far off from the accomplished guitarist. In fact, they too, insist upon clarity, accuracy, and a natural rhythm to their work. Anything less is unacceptable.
Each corner of the globe has its own unique symbols, idiomatic expressions, and cultural sensitivities that only professional translators can capture. They are masters of their craft and not only delve into the body of the text they’ve been commissioned to translate, but they immerse themselves in the culture. They study the traditions, the history, and the experiences of the intended audience. The point is, professional translators don’t simply type word-for-word and expect to craft quality translation. In fact if they did, the end result would be of lesser quality than that year-old casserole you forgot about in the back of your refrigerator. Yes. That bad.
Translators who know what they’re doing are well-versed in localization. They realize that in order to clearly convey a message to the intended audience, the message has to be culturally relevant. Thinking of skipping this step? You might end up with a damaged reputation.
In the early 1970s, Ford thought it would try to market its Pinto model in Brazil. After all, it did relatively well in the United States and in Europe. But they didn’t bother to do their localization homework, and it cost them – big time. Since the word “pinto” in Brazilian Portuguese slang is enough to emasculate any Latin lover, let’s just say that Ford’s Pinto failed to succeed in the Brazilian market.
In the 1980s, Braniff Airlines began promoting their leather seats with the slogan, “Fly in Leather” which seemed innocent enough. And although the slogan was perfectly acceptable throughout the United States and throughout much of Latin America, it didn’t translate so well in Mexico. Encouraging your customers to “Fly Naked” might not be the message you wish to convey.
The 1990s introduced the highly successful slogan, “Got Milk?”, first created by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. Soon after, the campaign was translated into Spanish and extended into Mexico by the California Milk Processor Board (CMPB ) – and that’s when the milk slogan went sour. Fortunately, the translation disconnect was caught early and the campaign was halted. We can’t think of too many women who would appreciate a campaign for cow’s milk that asks, “Are you lactating?”– can you?
You might be thinking, That was then. This is now. And for the most part, you’re right. Except that you’re not. There are still several global companies out there that think they can simply skip quality translation altogether, or at least invest minimally in this step.They don’t bother to search for translators with expertise in localization, and as a result, they are still making epic mistakes.
Some localization mistakes are minor while some are downright disastrous. One of the most offensive localization mistakes occurred as recently as 2013, when Coca-Cola launched a wordplay marketing promotion in Canada for their “vitaminwater” brand. The idea was to collect a series of random French and English words, mix them up, combine them, then throw them underneath the bottle caps for entertaining wordplay. Sounds great right? Wrong. The company didn’t consider the cognates that exist between the English and French languages. English and French share many words that have the same spelling, but some of these words don’t necessarily carry the same meaning. And that was the proverbial poop in which Coca-Cola stepped.
Soon after its launch, customers started raising alarms. One woman flipped over her cap to find the words, “You retard”, while another had the word “douche” printed on it. In French, the word, “retard” simply means “late”, and “douche” means “shower.” However in English, both of these words are highly offensive. Needless to say, Coca-Cola immediately pulled the plug and officially apologized.
Over the years, monster brands like Coors, Colgate, Gerber, Apple, Starbucks, and Mercedes-Benz have all taken a hit now and then, simply because they didn’t bother to invest in professional translation and localization services. Big mistake. Translation marketing errors can be very costly. Not only do businesses risk losing significant revenue, but translation mistakes can hurt a company’s brand. Mistakes in translation can also risk the health and well-being of a company’s consumers. In 2001, Mead Johnson Nutritionals (a Mead Johnson company based in Indiana) recalled 4.6 million cans of infant powdered formula due to inaccurate preparation instructions on their Spanish labels. The inaccurately translated instructions could have led to seizures, irregular heartbeats, and even death.
In 2009, HSBC (the 6th largest wealth manager in the world) spent USD 10 million to rebrand their “Assume Nothing” campaign. Soon after launch, they realized that the slogan was translating several languages as, “Do nothing” – certainly not the message they intended to convey.
CAN Translators Makes The Grade
Clear. Accurate. Natural.
No matter how you slice it, cutting corners when it comes to the translation and localization process could end up costing you a fortune. Even worse, it could literally turn into a disaster for a company’s name, brand, and reputation – and this isn’t something you can quickly or easily remedy.
When asked what he believes are the pillars of his translation business, Alfred Mtawali will tell you:
Clarity, accuracy, and a natural rhythm – that spells quality. When you provide clients with high-quality language services, they will always come back for more.”
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