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Tag: terminology management

China-Based CSOFT Launches TermWiki

CSOFT International Ltd., a provider of multilingual localization, testing, and outsourced software development for the global market, announced the upcoming launch of TermWiki, a multilingual, collaborative and Wiki-based terminology management system for the the localization industry. TermWiki comes with enhanced Google-like fuzzy match search capabilities, automated notification features, detailed accessibility and user profile management, a structured dispute resolution infrastructure, image and video support, as well as customizable forms embedded in the system to facilitate compliance with relevant ISO standards for the presentation of terminological data categories. TermWiki is scheduled for public release this spring.

Multilingualism and Information Technology

This is the title of the presentation I was asked to give at the Kites Symposium of Multilingual Communication and Content Management in Finland this week. The main point I will be making is that multilingual content will only become easily and widely available when multilingual technology is deeply integrated in information technologies. I doubt that this will be considered controversial by anyone, but both the market demand and the technology has reached a point where companies are looking for slow steady growth to be accelerated. Although this demand is naturally higher in Europe, the potential for reaching new, or deeper into existing, markets ensure that even small to mid-size U.S. companies will be looking to incorporate multilingual technologies as soon as the cost and ease of doing so allows for it (abstract appended below). For more on how companies are thinking about this, see the recent report by our Content Globalization practice Multilingual Communications as a Business Imperative: Why Organizations Need to Optimize the Global Content Value Chain.

As Leonor says, machine translation, which has been around for years, is going to play a large role in multilingual applications in spite of its limited capabilities. For example, you may have noticed the Google translate feature at the top of this page and a couple of our other blogs. This was free, took no more than 5 minutes to install, and is very useful – try it out.

Here is the abstract for my presentation:

Language technologies are becoming integral to content and information technologies. This is a slow process, but inevitable. There is no question of the requirement for multilingual functionality. Those who might have thought or hoped that we would be a monolingual world in the foreseeable future must re-adjust their view when looking at the behavior (good and bad) across the globe today. Even in the U.S., where most of the population has always had a narrow view of language, organizations are awakening to the need for multilingual capability. This awakening is sure to continue because of global commercial opportunities. And because of the inexpensive global access provided by the Web, multilingual requirements are increasingly important for even very small businesses. Meeting the full market demand for multilingual requirements at the scale necessary won’t be possible without multilingual technologies becoming an integral component of mainstream information technologies.

While language technologies are not new and processes for managing translation and localization are well established, there is still much to learn about how to integrate language and other information technologies. First, the number of organizations, and people within organizations, with deep experience in translation processes and technologies is still relatively small. Second, there is fragmentation in the supplier market, within customer organizations, and along the “Global Content Value Chain”, that together contribute to slower growth. Third, development of all information technologies continues to accelerate, challenging even forward thinking organizations with large IT budgets.

Because of the central importance of multilingualism, all organizations need to understand as much as possible, what and how language technologies are being used today, how they are, or are not, integrated with other technologies and applications, and how and when emerging language and information technologies will affect commercial and information dissemination strategies.

The information technologies most immediately relevant to multilingual applications are content management technologies, including authoring, editing, publishing, search, and content management. Recent research on the use of language and content technologies by organizations with deep experience using both kinds of technologies, reveals that there is insufficient integration and interoperability across authoring, content management, localization/translation, and publishing. Much can be learned from analyzing how some organizations have successfully dealt with this constraint.

Language and semantic technologies continue to improve, both organically because of a renewed interest in their possibilities, and because of increases in readily available computing power. In addition to small expert niche companies, very large developer organizations such as Google and Microsoft are investing heavily in language technologies. Machine translation is one example, and one that is increasingly seen as having a serious role to play in many, if not all, translation applications. However, to fully achieve pervasive multilingual capability technology integration needs to progress from the integration of individual software applications, to the incorporation into large mainstream enterprise applications, widely deployed client tools, and software infrastructures.

Technology integration is not the only barrier to market growth. Yet, as more of these technologies are integrated, it will become easier to implement multilingual solutions, they will be less costly, easier to use, and procurement will be simplified.

It Starts with One Word: Lessons from the European Union

When applying the “one word” phrase to translation or localization processes, the “it” can be either accuracy or complete gaffe. Given the velocity of the Internet, an offensive or comical translation of just one word can proliferate faster than the designers of the age-old Faberge commercial could have imagined.

In fact, just one skewed word changes meaning, invites misinterpretation, and erodes quality. One inaccuracy; many consequences. Terminology Management (TM) should be a no-brainer, right? Unfortunately, we’ve seen TM listed toward the bottom of the priority list — or not at all — when discussing imperatives for the global content lifecycle within the content management community.

When I read SDL’s report on the TM benefits realized by the European Institute of Romania (EIR) during their accession process, I thought it was an impressive story. 158,000 pages of translation; 54,000 terms covering more than 8 languages; 23,000 validated terms submitted to the EU’s terminology database, Inter-Active Terminology for Europe (IATE). Hmmm. A collaborative, jointly-managed, and centralized terminology database with more than 8 million terms? Even more impressive.

Intrigue led me to SDL’s Christie Fidura, Senior Product Marketing Manager, which led me to Karl-Johan Lönnroth, the Director General of The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Translation (DGT). The Faberge commercial in action.

Described as one of the largest translation services in the world, the DGT provides translation services for all 23 of the European Union’s official languages, has a permanent staff of 1,750 linguists and 600 support staff, and currently translates over 1.7 million pages per year. If that’s not impressive enough, my interview with a very cordial Lönnroth provided even more insight in the EU’s commitment to citizen expectations for translated content, the value of TM, and the impact of cross-country collaboration.

Lönnroth began the interview with a simple, but compelling statement: “The support of 23 languages equates to 506 possible language combinations. Managing this is impossible without terminology management.” In managing the DGT as a service provider based on supply and demand, he also noted the continuing rise in expectations for translated content and with it, Web access to that content. Echoing the theme of the Globalization Track at Gilbane Boston 2007, Lönnroth’s message was that EU citizens are less and less tolerant of institutional and legislative information that is not in their native language.

So how does the IATE fit in? Lönnroth sees the multi-year effort as both a government and public service in “reinforcing the EU’s global interest in providing quality translations.” Over the last year, the merger of all European term banks resulted in a remarkable — and free — knowledge repository comprising 50 years of work. The repository is essential for candidate countries seeking accession and faced with the requirement to translate the EU’s Acquis Communautaire into their native language according to mandated deadlines. Such was the case for Romania and Bulgaria, which became Member States on January 1st, 2007.

As the Director-General of the DGT since 2004, Lönnroth is steadfast in promoting the EU principle of “unity in diversity” as well as the fact that multilingualism is essential. His focus on translation management is a critical part of the DGT blueprint for a multilingual European Union.

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