According to the MESA Europe Content Localization Council in 2017, the size of the audiovisual translation market suggests that content localization services are worth about 2 billion USD per year and are expected to grow by 8% to 10% annually. The Slator 2018 Media Localization Report paints a similar picture, yet subtitle translation software has not grown to match this assertion. Is it because traditional TM (translation memory) technology has nothing to offer and can’t support this specialized localization process?

The Audiovisual Translation Process

A typical methodology in multimedia translation involves four main steps: spotting, translation, simulation, and adaptation.

Professional audiovisual translators are often responsible for all four of these steps. As TM technology has not provided an optimal environment for any part of this process, translators have simply been using subtitle editing software instead. But now, thanks to the solutions provided by the SDL Community Developers team, translators can use their preferred translation environment for more of the audiovisual translation process. This includes leveraging translation memories, managing terminology, and performing quality assurance checks.

Subtitle Solutions for TM Technology

Audiovisual Context

The first problem with TM technology is that it typically did not provide proper context when translating videos. A noteworthy solution to this challenge is the Studio Subtitling plugin, which supports audiovisual playback that works synchronously with the translation editor. It provides additional data in real time, such as the number of characters per line and reading speed, and is available when translating, editing, or proofing subtitle translation.

File Type Support

The second problem is that the audiovisual translation industry works with a very limited set of file types (considering the hundreds that are available through subtitling software tools like Subtitle Edit). The lack of support for subtitle file formats makes it harder for TM technology to be used properly. Indeed, in order to use it, these files must often be converted into either SRT — one of the few supported formats in translation tools — or Microsoft Word. Fortunately, new file type plugins have been developed for STL (Spruce), webVTT and SBV (youtube) — with plugins for ASS, TTML and DFXP due shortly, all in addition to SRT which is already available. This innovation ensures that SDL Trados Studio already supports more subtitle file formats than any other TM technology.

Time-Code Editing

TM technology typically works on the basis that the source files are sacrosanct and, therefore, should not be changed. However, a subtitled sentence often takes two, three, or even four screens to be completed, and its translation won’t necessarily be shown in the same order or have the same length as the original. So, the translator needs to be able to merge or split subtitles for them to make sense. This requires a change to the structure of the time-codes in the source file, and, until now, no TM technology has supported this to any extent. The Studio Subtitle plugin and associated file types solve this problem by ensuring that the timecodes are updated in the target file when the translator merges segments.

Translation Quality Assessment

Finally, the fourth problem relates to TQA (Translation Quality Assessment). Many models in the translation industry can be used in support of TQA, but none of them are suitable for checking the quality of subtitling. In fact, there is a general lack of an agreed model to support TQA for intralingual subtitling, and there are very few TM solutions that can support a TQA process at all.

This problem has been solved by building a TQA solution around the FAR model proposed by Professor Jan Pedersen of Stockholm University that supports assessment in three areas:

  • Functional equivalence — do the subtitles convey speaker meaning? 
  • Acceptability — do the subtitles sound correct and natural in the target language?
  • Readability — can the subtitles be read in a fluent and non-intrusive way?

This is only possible because SDL Trados Studio supports the use of a TQA model for review and because it is freely available as an optional TQA profile on the SDL AppStore.

Supporting Audiovisual Translation

The SDL AppStore is a first in the industry and remains the only way for developers to create solutions of their own using the open APIs that are made available through the SDL Language Platform. The Community Developers team has provided support for a subtitle translation software solution and made it available so that any user of SDL Trados Studio can download and install it for free.

If you work in the audiovisual translation field and lack the tools to help you leverage your translation resources, then give these solutions a try. The evolving nature of this subtitle translation software means it can continue to adapt and improve to always meet your needs!

If you have questions about SDL Trados’ subtitle translation software, don’t hesitate to reach out so you can find a suitable technology plan that caters to your needs. If you prefer working alongside your peers, you can also ask any questions you like in the community forum where a dedicated place is set up for discussions about subtitle translation software.

Do you work in the audiovisual translation field? What software and solutions have you found to support your translation process? Have you ever tried any of SDL Trados’ plugins? Let us know in the comments below! Curious about our other articles on translation? Check them out on the TCLoc master’s blog!

There are certain challenges that you’ll likely face during your localization career. In this article, we give you the keys to overcoming these challenges and making your localization project successful. So, if you are interested in localization project management or another position in the localization field, keep reading! 

Upstream preparation: provide product knowledge!

If you have ever worked as a translator, you probably know that it is extremely difficult to provide good quality translations without context. Product development and product localization are handled by different teams who often work for different companies. Without proper preparation and communication, this can lead to challenges in the localization process. For example, how can translators get the necessary context and product information to produce an accurate and suitable translation?

First, during the preparation of the product, developers should provide explanations for any text that will be displayed. These explanations inform translators about the purpose and the meaning of the text. Developers should also provide information on character limits, which is essential in order to adapt text to user interfaces as well as to other content types. A button displayed on a mobile interface, for instance, might have a very short character limit. If this isn’t communicated to the translators, it can result in truncation and spending extra time and money on correcting it. Supplying translators with all the information they need greatly minimizes the risk of potential errors.

Project preparation is also an important stage that should not be overlooked. During this stage, the localization project manager should create a localization kit that includes:

  • the content to be translated in an appropriate format
  • a glossary for each target language with specific terms and their definitions. If no glossary is provided, it must be created. 
  • translation memories (files containing similar past translations that can be used as reference for current translations and save translators a considerable amount of time)
  • a style guide that explains, for example, the tone that should be used, the parts of text that should not be translated, or the audience that the text is intended for. This ensures that the text’s style will be consistent, even if many translators are working on it
  • reference materials, such as screenshots and demo versions, which give translators context and a deeper understanding of the product 

The job of a localization project manager is to make sure that the product and project preparations have been done correctly. One of the keys to a project’s success is facilitating communication and information sharing between the teams involved. Another important aspect to consider is staying within budget and time limitations.

CAT Tools: deal with tight deadlines and a limited budget 

Respecting deadlines while meeting the budget can be a really tough job. You are often going to work with clients who are on a very tight schedule for their product launches. A good localization project manager knows that organization is key in these cases, and always uses the best-performing tools. When used the right way, CAT tools can help save a considerable amount of time and money.

For example, if there are existing translation memories, CAT tools can automatically translate parts of the text, which saves a lot of time since the previously translated text is recycled and translators won’t have to translate everything from scratch. It also helps reduce costs as translators are paid by the word and the sentences that have already been translated in previous projects are paid at a lower rate. The similarity (called translation memory matches) varies between 50% and 100% and these words are only paid a percentage of the full word rate. The grid feature of certain CAT tools can help localization managers estimate discounted rates to make sure the project stays within the budget.

The success of localization project management

Productivity and turnaround of localization projects depend on the project manager being aware of these and other challenges as well as possible solutions. CAT tools can enhance profitability if they are used correctly in the project. There are plenty of other tools that can also be used in this field, such as localization project management tools, terminology management tools, and translation memory management tools. We highly recommended taking advantage of these to ensure the success of your localization projects.

What tools do you recommend? Do you have other tips to add? Let us know in the comments!

Also, interested in localization courses? Have a look at the TCLoc master’s program

Nowadays, computer-aided translation tools (CAT) have become an absolute necessity for professionals working in the translation and localization industry. How are CAT tools different from machine translation, and how do they work? 

What’s the difference between machine translation and computer-aided translation?

Machine translation is generated by software and based on a dictionary, to which users can contribute. The most common tool is one we’ve all used at least once: Google Translate. Machine translation can be useful if you want to understand only the general meaning of a text.

Computer-aided translation (CAT) is, on the other hand, a powerful tool for professional translators. It allows them to reuse the translations they have already made by storing them in a specific database. CAT tools thus make translations more coherent and can help match their style to a specific company’s needs. CAT software allows translators to save money and time, while improving the quality of the translation. The most common CAT softwares are SDL Trados, OmegaT, MemoQ, and DejaVu.

How do computer-aided translation tools work?

Computer-aided translation tools are operating platforms that gather applications for managing multilingual materials. They display the source and target texts side-by-side and divide the source text into segments which correspond to sentences. This allows translators to work more comfortably, focusing on the translation and typography. The target text will automatically adapt to the source text format.

The previously-made translations are added to multilingual and interactive dictionaries and saved into integrated databases. Then, the translator checks if the translation suggested by the software matches the source segment, makes adjustments if necessary, and validates the translated segment. 

Pros and cons of computer-aided translation

Computer aided translation tools guarantee the consistency of the terminology throughout the text, (especially when similar sentences or terms appear multiple times) and help avoid mistakes. Pre-translated grammatical and spelling suggestions help reduce the time needed to type the text. CAT tools are particularly relevant when it comes to technical documents, such as user manuals, contracts, and financial documents, as they usually contain a lot of repetition.

However, CAT tools are ineffective in translating literary texts because they can not process the different meanings and nuances hiding behind each word or sentence, nor provide the necessary variation of vocabulary. Moreover, translating cultural references, puns, and humor is a creative task, and machines can’t handle that yet. These types of texts require a human translator who has an extensive knowledge of the target culture.

CAT tools thus enhance translation quality and help human translators save time on each project, allowing them to meet deadlines more easily. Given the fact that their turnaround times are getting shorter and shorter, it’s important that they focus on translation quality, rather than checking format and spelling mistakes. 

Will CAT tools be able to replace human translators in the future?

The short answer is, probably not. First and foremost, CAT tools were created to improve translators’ workflow. CAT tools may be very helpful, but they still require a human translator to check the translation’s accuracy.

With CAT tools increasing productivity, freelance translators now have to cope with the fall of per-project and per-word rates. While per-word rates are declining, productivity is increasing. But it doesn’t mean translators are working less. In fact, CAT tools help them go through larger volumes of text more quickly. On average, a translator using a computer-aided translation tool can translate up to 4,000 words a day, that is to say, double the amount of words they used to do without CAT tools. Nowadays, CAT tools are used by all the main language service providers and freelance translators in order to improve their translation quality and productivity. 

If you want to learn more about computer-aided translation, check out our interview with Gaëtan Chrétiennot, language professional and CAT tool expert.

Going global means facing the challenges of internationalization and localization. To ensure success in foreign markets, a good quality strategy should be set in place right from the beginning. A testing plan can help to set a clear objective and evaluate deadlines for completion. Let’s have a look at the most important testing procedures.

Pre-localization Testing: Internationalization (i18n)

Software products are often created with the source language in mind. This leads to problems when adapting the product to the target market and also has an important cost impact. Software i18n comes in during product development, so that the software is ready for translation and localization. Engineers can define what code or design changes are needed and then elaborate a project plan. It allows a cost-efficient and highly-qualitative localization strategy. Some key points are listed below:

  • All files, strings, and pages support the texts and character strings (by using unicode)
  • Target text appears as expected (for instance, the text case is respected)
  • The graphic user interface is adapted
  • Multilingual databases are enabled

In addition to these technical adaptations, it is strongly recommended to define a glossary with the most important terms, as well as a style guide for the following translation work. 

Translation: Localization (l10n) Testing

The second stage is called Localization testing. It allows to verify the quality of a localized software for a target culture. Only the localized version of the product is proofed, as the focus is mostly on the translated content and the user interface (UI). Localization testers check, for instance, if the localized content is linguistically correct, accurate, and fits in the context. Then, translators not only translate the content, they also localize it. They update the translation memories and edit the texts when needed. Next, developers follow a testing plan. They conduct tests after having created and designed them or they use specific tools or automation testing services. This stage is about:

  • Assessing the translation quality—the terminology, the style guide, consistency, spelling, grammar and linguistic mistakes
  • Testing the functionality of the product in its standard environment
  • Conducting tests as defined in the testing plan 
  • Using testing tools

Post-localization Testing: Quality Assurance (QA)

The quality assurance team corrects bugs and errors that appeared earlier during the translation and localization process. QA testers determine if the product conforms to the company’s quality standards and verify the accuracy of the content in context. They are responsible for the suitability of the localized product for the target market. What should happen in this final QA stage?

  • Proofreading by an independent native speaker to validate the translation content
  • Providing QA checks
  • Building reports
  • Implementing an efficient QA strategy

When a company chooses to invest in a localization strategy, efforts will be rewarded by increased sales in the target markets and satisfied customers. 

Do you want to learn more about localization and content strategy? The Master in Technical Communication and Localization (TCLoc) is a year-long, distance-learning career-oriented program specially designed for professionals.

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Created in the early 1990s for software development, the agile approach can design, shape, and manage an entire IT project. Unlike traditional methods that are considered too inflexible, slow, or easily outdated, agile development places the customer at the centre of a project in order to adapt quickly to changes. Agile development methods, such as Scrum and Extreme Programming, reduce change costs by implementing principles, reference values, and validations, which lowers post-project costs.

Today, agile development has extended beyond the boundaries of IT projects and has found a prominent place in the corporate world, particularly in marketing. The process is based on communication that combines customer collaboration, transparency, and knowledge sharing. Linked to the world of digital and agile development, agile marketing offers an instant deployment of actions with a logic of tests and analysis of results at low cost. It is thus opposed to traditional marketing which, once planned, cannot be modified (audio-visual campaigns, print, etc.).

Agile development and translation

Agile development provides proactive and innovative actions in order to precisely meet the expectations and needs of a target audience. Applied to translation, it allows for greater and more flexible performance, producing evolving content that can be analysed in real time. The limitations of older and slower alternatives disappear, which results in better organized translations and immediate performance. Thanks to its project management system based on lean methods such as Kanban, agile translation also encourages teamwork between translators, editors, and proofreaders.

Ideal for limited and recurring needs, agile translation can be used for marketing, advertising, or technical documents. Despite a limited number of words per project (up to 5000 words), agile translation offers aerated and adaptable content in no time and at a low cost. Combined with intelligent technologies, and with customers as the main source of inspiration, agile development thus appears as THE innovative solution to remain the market leader.

Golden rules to achieve agile translation

Translation is usually planned at one of the last stages of the project. This leads to situations where a lot of work has to be redone as translators do not always have the whole context, which results in lengthy and costly repeated iterations. An agile process minimizes the effort, avoiding constant round-trips between stakeholders trying to fix misunderstandings. So what are the agile guidelines used in translation? 

  • Value communication: The customers should be involved in all stages of the project in order to provide valuable insights that help achieve the final result faster.
  • Less for you, more for them: Do more for the customer than for your own comfort. Avoid creating internal documents to organize the process and use that time to translate. It’s the only way to be able to deliver quickly.
  • Maximize automation: Automation equals efficiency, which reduces the end-customer costs. At first glance, this may seem counter-intuitive, as the agile approach values interaction between individuals. However, as humans do what they do best–communicating, computers should take care of the common tasks that are repeatable and time-consuming. CAT tools like SDL Trados or OmegaT can make your life easier. 

Thank you for reading, we hope you found this article insightful.

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The video game industry is constantly growing and increasingly more video games are being played around the world each year. However, in order to be successful, video games must be launched in the international scene and appeal to players worldwide. But their rich content and specific vernacular make the localization process difficult. What exactly are the specifics of video game localization? 

Similarities between video game localization and written translation

At first, video game localization might seem similar to other translation fields, such as in the marketing and advertising sectors. After all, it’s simply a matter of translating and adapting the elements of a product, like the packaging and the promotion that goes with it. Furthermore, as with any other product, having an official website in multiple languages is a good way to promote games in different countries, as it tends to include previews, reviews and customer support (like SquareEnix’s website). Also, for the game’s user manual (the physical version of which has all but disappeared), the translation must be clear and accurate as it contains the general conditions of use. In addition, the legal content must be kept in accordance with the law across all languages. 

Behind the scenes of video game localization

However, despite these similarities, video game localization is a rather unique process. Even though most video games are now intended for international use from conception, many challenges still remain when it comes to localization. Due to globalization, video games are usually released on the same date in many countries. As a result, translators often have to work on files in the form of Excel spreadsheets. Consequently, they may not have a good understanding of the context. This lack of information may lead to translation mistakes or inconsistencies, and it doesn’t help with decision-making.

A creative translation

When it comes to a text intended for dubbing, the translator has to pay great attention to the fluency and pronunciation of his work. Translating an audio script also requires a significant degree of creativity. This creativity is reflected not only in the adaptation of dialogues, but also in the adaptation of names of characters, places, items and creatures (the Moogles in Final Fantasy, or the Draenei in World of Warcraft are good examples). Moreover, the source text sometimes contain puns that should be maintained as much as possible in the translated text. Translators specializing in the field of video games are often video games enthusiasts themselves. A certain knowledge of gaming is quite helpful, in addition to the appropriate qualifications.

The user interface complicates localization

The UI, the menus, the hint captions, and other factors must be taken into account during the localization process. While keeping in mind typical gaming terminology, translators have to limit the length of the text to a specific number of characters in order to make the content fit in a given space.

Furthermore, the number of characters also depends on which language you are working with. Game interfaces generally have very limited space, which creates even more of a challenge when working with languages such as German. German requires roughly 30% more space than English for each UI element. European languages are generally twice as long as English, while English is twice as long as Japanese. Therefore, a skill and inventiveness for writing are necessary for video game localization.

The global gaming industry generated $135 billion dollars in 2018, marking a 10% growth since 2017 ( In this constantly growing industry, the need for high quality localization is now greater than ever.

Thank you for reading, we hope you found this article insightful.

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Internet has become a global media that enables exchanges between different cultures. It is now essential for companies willing to go international to adapt to their international audience, mostly by localizing their website(s). However, most of the time localization still isn’t done the right way. Let’s have a look at website localization best practices to boost your international strategy.

1. Build a Real Website Localization Strategy

Are you really planning to translate your web content without any localization strategy? Think about localization as a part of your product or service development. You first need to ask you the right questions:

  • Do I need to localize my website? It actually depends on your current audience and the impact that localization may have on your business.
  • Which audience am I targeting? It is not only about the language but the whole culture. If you adapt your content to British users, you won’t apply the same strategy as for North-American users.
  • Did I set my goals and do I have a team? Define the real objectives of the international strategy you’re building. If you’re lucky enough to have a team, think about all the skills needed during the localization process. You should surround yourself with translators, developers, web designers but also, when possible, with native speakers.
  • Do I have a budget and a schedule? Your localization strategy should be realistic depending on the resources you have and the time you would like to spend on this project.

The key is to set an effective project management strategy for your website localization.

2. Translation is your Starting Point, but not Only

Localization usually sounds like translation. Many people think that it consists in only translating content. That is partly true but content translation is only a step in the localization process. Don’t overlook the following aspects, they will help you provide the best content to your international audience:

Your website also needs to be prepared for the translation process and more precisely it means it needs to be internationalized. Consider using:

  • Unicode: this programming language supports any character and symbol (very important for Chinese or Russian translations for example).
  • Hreflangs: they enable Google to connect your localized pages to the original website and be more visible online.

Keep your source language simple as it is aimed to be translated. This applies particularly to specific terminology, jargon or even slang. You also really have to pay attention to the quality of your translation. Translation should be done by professionals! Consider having a translation team or working with a translation agency.

Half of the international Internet users prefer using websites that are translated in their native language and 55% of European users read content in different languages on the internet. Considering localization also means considering the user’s preferences.

In terms of localization, be aware of the following aspects:

  • Don’t forget to localize currencies, date and time formats, payment methods, symbols, icons etc.
  • Adapt the content to the targeted culture: think about local events mostly if you own an Ecommerce website (Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc.)

In a nutshell, write your content and don’t just translate it. Have you ever heard about international SEO? This is the second question you need to ask yourself: can my audience find my website?

3. Website Localization Goes Hand in Hand with International SEO

Before any website localization you need to conduct a local SEO audit for each language or country you are targeting. You may be surprised discovering that your international audience doesn’t exactly use the same keywords as you do. For instance, French people mostly search “portable” for smartphones while Belgians use the word “GSM”. The languages are really close, but some specific words are completely different.

SEO constantly needs to be checked and improved. Here are 3 very useful tools to manage your international SEO:

After the translation process, compare the source and translated content. Try to analyze each keyword and define if it needs to be changed depending on its popularity among your international audience’s researches.

Remember to change your external links: it is very interesting to include links that target local content your international user is more likely to read. International SEO also means adapting alt tags and meta tags.

Finally, try to walk in your customer’s shoes: is he or she only using Google? If you’re targeting a new market you will discover that Google isn’t the only search engine in the world (Yandex is very famous in Russia while Baidu is mainly used in China).

Take your time during your international SEO keywords research: this is an important step during website localization.

4. Create an International User Experience

Finally, localizing your website comes along with a unique user experience for each of your targeted languages and/or countries.

Think about some translation issues that could occur. You are localizing your website for the Arabic market, but you forgot some technical aspects:

  • The read direction is different, but the menu and layouts are not optimized: your user may be lost and leave the website quickly.
  • Some buttons need to be resized according to your new localized content.

Visuals such as pictures, colors and website structure are at the heart of your localization strategy. You need to provide the best user experience for your new customers: colors have different meanings according to cultures; the website navigation needs to be intuitive etc.

Stay informed on UX design best practices in the targeted country. You need to provide an international user experience by making the navigation easy, clear and user-friendly depending on the context.

Now you know some of the best practices for website localization that could help you reach a new international audience. Keep in mind that localization is an important process in your international strategy. It should be done seriously and carefully to provide the best user experience for your new international audience.

Ready? Steady? Localize!

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On 21-22 February 2019 Barcelona hosted “Elia Together”, a two-day event that brought together language professionals and freelance translators from around the world. This year’s theme was Mastering Digital Transformationand one of the speakers was Hélène Bajon, Director of CLIP – Center for Language Industry Professionals, a certification body based in France and teacher at the University of Strasbourg.

Steffi Ullrich, one of her TCLoc master’s students, talked with her about this event.

Hélène, what is your general impression of the conference?

I found that there was a very enjoyable collaborative vibe between companies and freelancers. People mingled easily, freely exchanging ideas outside the usual customer-supplier relationship.

The main topics discussed focused on specialisation and digital trends.

I particularly appreciated what the Keynote speaker, Professor Zamora, mentioned: we have to change our mindset, because we have absolutely no idea what the digital future holds for us. He said that it was more a question of mindset than of specific trends, and I totally agree with him on that. Our mindset is key and will be our best differentiator. Being open and adaptive to trends is certainly key.

Why did you choose to talk about “Specialising in core competencies”?

I chose my topic “Specialising in core competencies: Strengthening strategic skills in an ever-changing environment” with a view at the future of the translation industry. Digitalisation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are a fact, and they are everywhere. We live at a time when machines can translate, interpret, even create content from scratch very easily, which seems to be a big threat for us all.

However, my point is that instead of freaking out, panicking or giving up because we fear that these machines will destroy our jobs, we can and should focus on our strengths, our core competencies, and invest in them.

We should collectively and individually think about the added-value we bring to our jobs. We should strengthen the unique set of skills that are valued. That is why I believe that translators should ask themselves: “What makes me different?” instead of merely “What can I specialise in?”

To get back to the session I gave, I chose to focus on the different strategic moves one can adopt when in an environment with an intense level of competition. Indeed, translators can feel that specialising might be the only way they can differentiate from competitors. In my speech, I wanted to let them know that academic business theories demonstrated that there are other ways to do so in an industry with such an intense competitive rivalry as translation.

The “Core Competency” model of K. Prahalad and G. Hamel for instance, is worth studying. These researchers suggested that we could adopt another approach to think about competition: Instead of looking at the business environment, let’s look at ourselves. What makes me unique as a professional? What helps me bring a perceived added-value to my customers?

I firmly believe that the traditional approach of adding new skills to improve our business profiles and of continuous learning is valid. But doing so without analysing one’s own profile is a pity. We should not rely on a model where we only look at the environment, at the market. On the contrary, we should define our core competencies and strengthen them.

Of course, if you identify that your core competencies are strongly linked to a given specialisation, then go for it, it will make you even more rare and sought after. But do not specialize just by opportunity, without choosing, let’s say only because you have a regular customer and volumes in a given sector. Specialisation is wise for those with special interests in a certain field or who have a specific personal or professional background, but specialisation should always be done for good reasons.

How will digital transformation affect the translation industry?

Our industry can get trapped in fear with the intense digital transformation that has just started. It seems that everyone is afraid to become jobless in the near future. Translators are afraid of the incredible progress of AI, translation companies are afraid of advanced freelance platforms, freelance platforms are afraid by newly-created and integrated CAT-Tool-related platforms, etc. Fears and doubts are well-hidden but everywhere.

This fear is understandable because digitisation has the power to change everything. It’s like reshuffling playing cards, nobody knows the cards they will get next turn. My guess, though, is that digitisation will shape the industry in a different way, but it will not change what is important: content, skills and processes. There is this quote I like: “If the computer can do it, it is not a skill.”

To be more specific, maybe right now some translation actors notice a change due to the numerous online translators’ platforms that are available in a few clicks. Maybe, with these massive databases and new services clients tend to think that translation is just a step instead of being a process.

Okay, this is how things are evolving. There might consequently be in the coming years a massive shift towards these fast and cheap services. But then… then one day, we might re-discover old-style processes like TEP (Translating-Editing-Proofreading) because of recurring dissatisfactions in T-only or light post-editing-only processes, or because of other project specificities. The language industry has experienced regular pendulum swings since its emerged as an industry in the 90’s.

Another trend I’m very interested in is language. In the coming years, we might re-discover that translation is more about mastering one’s mother tongue than understanding foreign languages.
I sometimes think that we will get back to basics and re-invent quality processes… maybe even re-invent translation skills. We’ll see…

What would be your advice to future translators?

I would advise future translators to take some time to think.

First of all, to introspect. What is your deep motivation as a translator? What is your real pleasure when translating? What is your value, your background, your education? To sum it up, what is the unique harmonized set of skills that defines your core competencies?

Then I would recommend to focus on these core competencies and to design a tailor-made strategy accordingly.

Of course, one of your strategies can be specialisation. But be ready to really be different or to become an expert. For instance, imagine you want to specialise in medical translation. You can be different because you have a veterinary background for example or because your partner or parents are doctors for instance, or just because you are passionate about medical content and cannot help reading and learning about it continually. The industry needs Subject Matter Experts, real specialists, so in these cases it can be a brilliant orientation. But if it is not the case, if you just picked “medical translation” because you like it, then pick another strategy.

My second piece of advice would be to go and find what your clients are looking for and what they do value. Writing down the name of your degree and the years of your experience in a CV is not enough to get a translation job. Clearly display your strengths and unique selling points, your skills and knowledge, your personality and hobbies. Identify and write down the relevant special skills you offer. In other words: What are you better at than other translators? Are you more flexible or do you work faster than others? Are you better at rephrasing or at terminology searching?

When applying to a company, put yourself in the shoes of your recruiters. If you cannot, whenever you have the opportunity to meet Vendor Managers, ask them how they make their recruiting decisions. Knowing what your clients want and value is always the best sales advice.

Ultimately, as I was saying during my talk at “Elia Together”, the key question would be to define the skills of a good translator. Being a good translator is not only a matter of CAT-Tool expertise. This is just a prerequisite.

My best advice for translators would be to think about what a good translator is. Let’s be creative:

Good translators spot errors, inconsistencies and potential understanding problems… Or good translators understand what is at stake for the company they translate for. Or they have a very good understanding of business needs or contexts, or they have the adequate mindset in order to be able to put themselves in their readers’ shoes or clients’ shoes. You can see that it goes far beyond tool management or field specialisation.

Maybe the biggest change translators can make in their professional life is to turn into mini-consultants in their field. And for some of them, their field will be… language!

Indeed, basic language skills are and will be essential, and some trends show that these skills might become rare in the coming years. The Voltaire Certification in France called my attention with their grammar and spelling test schools, universities and companies request young graduates to take and pass. Together with the evolutions of our Information Era, this led me to think that language skills in translation will become key again in the coming years.

Key because they will be so rare, and that we will all need people to confirm, verify, correct, proofread, validate what is being published and released. And this, specifically, might be good news for translators, since it can widen their business scope.

At the end of my talk, we collectively ended up thinking that if focusing on our core competencies leads us to consider language skills as distinctive for translators, maybe labelling translators as “translators” is restrictive. Why not change this job title to “language specialist”, “language consultant”, “reviewer” etc. This is surely one job the machine will not be ready to steal… And it is so much more positive and fearless than sticking to the old “MTPE” debate!

Thank you very much for this interview and the interesting insights!

Thank you for reading, we hope you found this article insightful.

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Neural Machine translation, or NMT, is a fairly new paradigm. Before NMT systems started to be used, machine translation had known several types of other machine translation systems. But, as research in the field of artificial intelligence is advancing, it is only natural that we try to apply it to translation.

History of Neural Machine Translation

Deep learning applications first appeared in the 1990s. They were then used, not in translation, but in speech recognition. At this time, automatic translation was started to regain momentum, after almost all studies on the subject were dropped in the 1960s, because machine translation was believed to cost too much for very mediocre results.

Rule-based machine translation was then the most used type of machine translation, and statistical machine translation was starting to gain importance.

The first scientific paper on using neural networks in machine translation appeared in 2014. After that, the field started to see a lot of advances.

In 2015, the OpenMT, a machine translation competition, counted a neuronal machine translation system among its contenders for the first time. The following year, it already had 90 % of NMT systems among its winners.

In 2016, several free neural MT systems launched, such as DeepL Translator or Google Neural Machine Translation system (GNMT) for Google Translate, for the most well known, which you can see compared here.

How Neural Machine Translation Works

These NMT systems are made up of artificial neurons, connected to one another and organized in layers. They are inspired by biological neural networks, capable of learning on their own from the data they receive each time someone translates a new document. The “learning” process consists in modifying the weight of the artificial neurons, and it is repeated during every new translation, to constantly optimize the weights, and thus the quality of following translations. NMT systems work with bilingual corpuses of source and target documents that have been translated in the past.

The translation itself works in two phases.

First, there is an analysis phase. The words of the source document get encoded as a sequence of vectors that represent the meaning of the words. A context is generated for each word, based on the relation between the word and the context of the previous word. Then, using this new context, the correct translation for the word is selected among all the possible translations the word could have.

After that, there is the transfer phase. It is a decoding phase, where the sentence in the target language is generated.

Deep Learning: Better, but Still not Perfect

Even though deep learning systems are the best machine translations systems to exist yet, they are not perfect, and cannot completely work on their own. As languages are being used every day, they are constantly evolving. Therefore, deep learning systems always need to learn, especially neologism and new expressions. And to learn about these new elements, they will always need the help of humans, whether it be to work on the systems directly, or to perform post-edition on translated documents.

Nonetheless, systems who can “learn” on their own represent a massive improvement, not only for machine translation, but also for any natural language processing tasks, as well as for artificial intelligence in general.
Neural machine translation still needs research and improvement, for sure. But it does represent a bright future for machine translation. Of all the people reading this article, most will have used a neural machine translation system before, whether knowingly or not. And if you actually haven’t, there is a good chance that you will at least try one now, for example: DeepL Translator.

Thank you for reading, we hope you found this article insightful.

Want to learn more or apply to the TCloc Master’s Program? 

Click HERE to visit the homepage.

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In communicating effectively to your audience, the inclusion of graphs or imagery can be incredibly useful. Graphs and charts are often used in marketing collaterals, websites, technical documents and software which can take up various forms: real images, texture, line art, charts, schematic drawings and many more. Graphs can help with increased comprehension of your readers, replace difficult textual descriptions and serve as an alternative by means of visual attributes.

Much like text, graphs can also be adapted to the target culture or market during the localization process. However, when used incorrectly, it can pose challenges such as increased localization project cost and time. In order to avoid such complexities, consider these optimization tips to help efficiently localize your graphical needs:

Editable Graphics

A colorful graphic with embedded text can be fancy and eye-catching, but can also be a translator’s worst nightmare! Un-editable graphs, with hard-coded text or wordings that are flattened into the image, leaves the localization company no option but to recreate the graphic in totality – which can easily hike up your localization costs. To prevent such occurrence, ensure your graphs are saved in an editable format and provided to the localization company in its source format (.psd or other layer-based format). This can save time that would be otherwise wasted on text extraction process and in turn save you some money.

Separation of graphics and text

Whenever possible, ensure that your texts are designed as a separate component from the graphics. This can be achieved through the use of text callouts or legends, instead of embedded within each graphic. The use of text callouts and legends also allows for other localization efficiencies such a flexibility for text expansion and ability to store the text in Translation Memories (TMs). These factors can save considerable cost in the localization process and reduce the billable hours you will receive from the translation company!

Organize your document

The inclusion of graphics can cause the document size to be big and cumbersome. Large files can lead to unnecessary processing time for the translator. To cut down on such issues, use a strategy to provide essential information about your graphs so the translator can easily identify them. You can provide a spreadsheet containing graphical information, an external location where the graphic is hosted, and texts in source language. This allows the translator to translate the text efficiently, and also leaves you the option to use the translated text in spreadsheet if there is a need to edit the graphics in the future. Additionally, hosting the graphic in an external file can substantially reduce document size.

Design with localization in mind

You should also consider cultural differences and variances when deciding on the design components. Factors such as the use of appropriate symbols, colors or human representation should be well thought-out. If your document is designed with localization and transcreation in mind, it can help prevent the need to re-create the graphic later in the process.

Outside of these tips outlined, there are many more strategies that can help you save time and cost during the localization process. To learn of more tips and localization hacks, feel free to contact me @ or read through information articles on

Thank you for reading, we hope you found this article insightful.

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