Friday, January 23, 2009

machine translation: what is it good for?

I will get back to posting terms soon, but one more meta comment for now:

What I tell organizations, when they ask me about it, is:
Machine translation should be used on non-essential inbound texts ONLY - to get an idea (sort of) of what other folks are saying. If you don't want to run the risk of being wildly misunderstood and saying something offensive you should never use it for outbound texts. You should also never ever use it as the first step in a human translation project. For some reason a lot of activists seem to think that putting it through a machine first will make the human work easier, but honestly it makes it harder, because once you have seen it rendered wrong, it will be harder to think of how to say it right - and your human translation will never be as good if you start with the machine weirdness. Just start from scratch.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Not a term, but a recommendation to watch movies with subtitles whenever you can, to see how they translate terms. I know, annoying to read the subtitles the whole way through. I usually just look down when a term comes up that I'm not sure about how to render. A great source for good documentaries is this blog, which is where I got the link to the great documentary below, Fog of War. When I've done subtitles myself one of the challenges I've faced is figuring out if it's better to put two lines of text up for a shorter time, or three for a longer time. Watch how other subtitlers do this to get a sense of what you like.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

quizzing yourself

There's really no way of getting around studying lists to improve your handle on obscure terms (I have spent far too many hours of my life studying Sp/En lists of obscure legal terminology). With web 2.0 there are at least now new ways of doing flashcards. In the past I've recommended quizlet. Now there's also verbalearn - that you can also download onto your ipod/etc. Haven't tried the latter, but seems worth a go if you're studying for a certification exam (and yes, I do think it's worth working your way up the interpretation certifications ladder, even if you're mostly a movement interpreter - but of course, I did work my way up the ladder and then jumped onto the much longer ladder of graduate school, so who am I to say). (I added both of these to the good tools sidebar section)