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Grammar checkers helpful or harmful?

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Grammar checkers helpful or harmful?
Susan Rooks has made limited use of grammar-checking features built into word-processing programs such as Microsoft Word and Corel’s WordPerfect.

“Given that (a grammar checker is) wrong more often than it’s right, the average person will be horribly served by it,” said Rooks, who hails from North Easton, Mass.

Rooks is not a linguistic rebel. In fact, she is known on the Web as “The Grammar Lady.” A member of the Society of Professional Communicators, Rooks’ business, The Grammar Goddess (www.grammargoddess.com), offers on-site grammar seminars for business-people around the world.

You may be familiar with grammar checkers. In Microsoft Word, for example, you’ll find this function in the Tools menu. Click on “Spelling and Grammar,” and Word will begin examining the document you currently have open. If it finds a sentence fragment, or it thinks you are not using a verb properly, it will highlight the offensive section and give you the chance to change it to proper usage. WordPerfect’s Grammatik utility is bundled with most versions of the program and works in a similar manner.

For writers and editors, the main question seems to be whether these tools offer needed discipline or whether they constrict style and voice. Writing teachers, members of a prt about grammar-checking tools,” said Dene Grigar, an assistant professor of English at Texas Women’s University in Dallas. Grigar was chairperson of the Computers And Writing Online 2002 Conference, held over the Internet in May.

“On the one hand, these tools help to clear up errors that students don’t mean to make,” Grigar said. “Grammar checkers can also intimidate some students who have not developed a personal style (or voice) or do not have confidence in their writing.”

An even bigger issue for writing teachers: not only do software grammar checkers crimp creativity, but their overuse can be a crutch for students who never learned good grammar habits.

“Grammar checkers are expert systems, not expert writers,” said Grigar. “Students can receive assistance with issues like subject-verb agreement, use of the passive voice, proper use of articles, and some comma and other punctuation problems. Yet even with this help, the information provided is so easy and transparent that students do not think they need to spend time thinking about the errors they have made.”

Reservations about grammar checkers are not a universal sentiment in the writing education community. There is another school of thought that maintains that grammar is the foundation of language, and as limited as it is, grammar-checking software can only aid the cause of good writing.

Don Ranly defends grammar checkers as a front-line defense against poor grammar. Ranly brings some impressive credentials to his arguments. He’s a professor of journalism at the University of Missouri, and is on the editorial board of Writer’s Digest, a popular monthly magazine for writers of all types and styles.

“The grammar checker is simply that — it makes you check the sentence,” said Ranly. “Enough said. I’m amazed at how often I end up changing something. That’s damned useful.”

Ranly said he has little tolerance for those wordsmiths who view their expressiveness as untouchable by grammar-checking software.

Tips for using a grammar checker

If you find your grammar checker too constrictive, there are things you can do. In Microsoft Word, for example, the Spelling & Grammar Options box (reached from the Tools menu) allows you to check grammar and style, or grammar only. And once the grammar checker starts to examine your document, you can disable the feature entirely by unchecking the “Check grammar” box in the “Spelling and Grammar” box.

Grammar checkers helpful or harmful? By Russell Shaw, Gannett News Service | We Translate, Inc. Certified Translation Services

Certified Translation of Document required by Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Islamabad, Pakistan.

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PROCEDURAL REQUIREMENT FOR TRANSLATION OF DOCUMENT

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Islamabad and all its Camp Offices at Peshawar, Lahore, Karachi and Quetta do not attest either the contents or the genuineness of the document. They only countersigns the attestation made by other authorities like the educational certificates which have to be attested by IBCC and Higher Education Commission etc. The Ministry, thus, verifies the signatures of concerned attesting authorities. These documents include:
Documents issued by various authorities of central, provincial and local government which are intended to be used abroad or submitted in Foreign Missions in Pakistan
Documents verified/attested by our Foreign Missions which are intended to be presented in Pakistan
Further, the Ministry only attests documents in Urdu and English versions. Document or its translation in any other language other than English is not attested. Applicants may get their attested documents translated from the Translation Centers.

Certified document translation required by Ministry of foreign affairs, Islamabad.

Nikah Nama, Birth Certificates, B. Form, Character Certificate, Medical Certificate, Death Certificates, Divorce Certificate, Unmarried Certificate Affidavit Union Council Certificate, ID card Cancellation Form (Urdu), Driving License, School Leaving Certificate (Urdu), Secondary School Certificate, Higher Secondary School Certificate, Diploma of One year duration and short courses, Bachelors and Masters Degree, Degrees/Diploma Certificates relating to Medical professionals PMDC Reg., etc. Experience Certificates, Diploma of Paramedical professionals, Nursing Diplomas etc. Experience Certificates), Succession and Guardianship Certificate, Special Power of Attorney from Pakistan to person Abroad, Power of Attorney from Abroad to a person in Pakistan, Documents relating to commerce/trade.

We Translate, Inc. – Pakistan’s Premiere Certified Translation Services with largest network of Certified translators network, Now offers quality and certified translation for all the document required by honourable Ministry of foreign affairs, Islamabad.

We Translate, Inc. Is largest language services provider with 400 languages translation services through 100,000+ Professional translators on board. We provide certified translation of all American, European, Schengen, Middle eastern, Asian languages.

What to ask your client before starting a translation

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Every translation job is different – that goes without saying. Every client has their own set of requirements, and every job presents its own unique challenges. What can translators do to ensure a project goes smoothly from start to finish? Well, one of the best and most straightforward things you can do is to ask the client some questions.

It’s a good rule of thumb that you should never be shy to ask questions about a job. If you’re new to the translation industry, you might worry that asking questions is a sign of inexperience or insufficient training – but it’s not at all. In fact, many clients like to be asked smart questions: it shows that the translator is a professional who cares about getting the job right. And, as we said right at the start, every job is different. It doesn’t hurt to double-check details if something is unclear. As we’ll see, you might even spot something important that hadn’t occurred to the client.

Some caution is understandable, of course, and even necessary. It’s possible to go over the top and bombard the client with hundreds of questions that you could easily have answered for yourself. But it’s easy enough to apply some common sense to the matter and avoid wasting your client’s time. A short checklist like this can be helpful:

Is the issue something I’ve encountered before?
Can I look up the answer to the question online, or elsewhere?
Has the client provided any reference material that might answer the question (or is it available on their website, for example)?
Is there a single, clear course of action that I should take?
What is the target audience?

This is a potentially huge question that can significantly impact the way you handle a translation. If you’re translating a marketing brochure that provides a first look at a new product, for example, you want to make sure you introduce new ideas and terms clearly and simply, so nobody gets left behind. But if you’re translating some technical documentation for engineers to read, on the other hand, you wouldn’t want to patronise them and waste time explaining things they already know.

You can sometimes answer this question by considering the style in which the text is written in the source language, and the manner in which it’s presented (covering things like layout, content, or the probable context in which it’ll be read). But if you’re uncertain, and you think it’s likely to affect the decisions you make, get in touch with the client and ask them for advice.

What format will the file be output in?

Sometimes the answer is as simple as looking at the source file type – but sometimes it isn’t. Businesses may first produce content using a word processor with a view towards transferring it to web design or DTP software later – and, if you’re qualified and confident, you can potentially add value to your translation by saving them the time and effort of doing so. Alternatively, you might receive a package from an agency to be translated in a CAT tool like Trados and then exported to Word or some other format. If you don’t ask, you might not find out the answer until it’s too late and you find you’ve created additional unnecessary work for yourself.

Which language variant should I use?

There is no single, universal version of any language – as we’ve discussed before. Make sure you know which one the client expects. If you’re translating into English, should that be British or American English – or some other variant entirely? If you’re working into German, should that be for the German, Swiss or Austrian market? This question also ties into matters of style and tone – it’s worth finding out how colloquial you’re allowed to be, or even whether you can introduce a little of a local dialect if your text is targeting a very small, specific geographical area. This also therefore goes back to our first question of who the client’s target audience might be, and emphasises just how important it can be to resolve issues like this before you put pen to paper (or, in our age, fingers to keyboard).

How should I handle localisation issues?

Unlike the previous question, this one is less about linguistic issues like spelling and grammar, and more about practical and cultural considerations. It may require you to work with the client to find a balance between their desires and the expectations of the local target audience – and you’re very well-placed to do this. One of the many reasons native-speaker translators are so valuable is that they know their local market better than anyone else – its conventions, its standards, current trends and peculiarities. If the client is entering this market for the first time, it can be worth discussing how much they want to adapt their existing marketing strategy to meet it. They may choose to adjust their tone of voice to prove their local awareness to the market, or they may decide to use their “foreign” nature as a unique selling point – think of the way American software companies market their services in the cheery, casual tone we associate with Silicon Valley. Or the calm, understated focus on engineering prowess that we see from some German car manufacturers. Whatever decision your client makes, it’s a conversation worth having.

And even if the client has already provided a comprehensive style manual and a complete glossary for handling local terminology – we can dream, can’t we? – you may still come across smaller localisation issues, such as prices quoted in an unexpected currency, or a date and time given with no indication of the time zone. In cases like this, you’ll definitely want to check in with the client and ask them how they want to handle the situation.

Naturally, there will be plenty of other issues that come up over the course of your career in translation – many of which you won’t be able to predict before you see them. But if you feel comfortable asking your client the right questions, they’ll usually be happy to answer them. You’ll find ways to cross these bridges as you come to them, and your work will improve as a result. That’s a win for everyone – for you, for the customer, and ultimately for your bottom line.

Mandarin Chinese Most Useful Business Language After English

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Mandarin, China’s official tongue, is also the top language worldwide for business other than English, according to Bloomberg Rankings.
Mandarin, spoken by 845 million people, scored highest in a ranking of languages, excluding English, based on business usefulness. The ranking scored languages according to the number of speakers, number of countries where the language is official, along with those nations’ populations, financial power, educational and literacy rates, and related measures.

French, spoken by 68 million people worldwide and the official language of 27 countries, was ranked second, followed by Arabic, which is spoken by 221 million people and is official in 23 nations. Mandarin is unlikely to supplant English soon as the primary language of business, said Leigh Hafrey, a senior lecturer in communications and ethics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management.
“In much the same way that the dollar remains the preferred currency, English will remain the preferred language for the foreseeable future,” Hafrey said in a telephone interview.
Mandarin speakers can gain an advantage in doing business in China, Hafrey said.
“Speaking the language confers a huge advantage for anyone who wants to do business in a non-English-speaking country,” he said. “It gives you flexibility, knowledge that you need, and personal connections that can make a difference in the speed and effectiveness of your negotiations.”
Spanish, the official language of 20 countries and spoken by 329 million people, came in fourth, the rankings showed.
Spanish was the top foreign language studied in U.S. college classrooms in 2009, according to research from the Modern Language Association in New York. Chinese tallied seventh by the number of U.S. students enrolled in classes that year, after Spanish, French, German, American Sign Language, Italian and Japanese, according to a December 2010 report by the association. Arabic was eighth.

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Visa Immigration Translation

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Visa immigration Translation are required in most part of the world today. Millions of people move from one corner of world to another, authorities/ agencies / embassies issue visas to applicants for their different purposes, but when it’s about moving to non-English state, embassies / consulates will ask you to present the required documents in their local language for greater understanding of your purpose. Its official procedure for processing of visas around the world but most of the embassies do not give a translator’s recommendation, keeping in view the scenario and for provision of assured quality translation, we have taken initiative to get authorized by the embassies to help millions of people who cannot find a certified translation service for their translation needs. Being largest network of translators, we are helping them, develop greater understanding with their presentation of visa cases to authorities. Our translation services are widely trusted by thousands of people around the world. We acknowledge your trust on our services and we will keep providing you perfect translations every time.

CAT Tools: Overview and Main Benefits

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Despite the status of modern technology in the working life of today’s translators, the juxtaposition of conflicting views regarding its usefulness is still well and going strong. Some consider these technological innovations as invaluable tools for their work, while others believe that they create more problems than they solve. At the center of these discussions are the so called “CAT tools”. But where does the truth lie? How much easier do these tools actually make our work? Are they really essential for all translators without any exception whatsoever?

Clarification of concepts

Before we analyze the usefulness of these applications and find out who really needs them, we must first clarify a few concepts. The term most commonly used to describe tools, such as Trados or Wordfast, is “CAT tools”. The acronym CAT derives from “Computer Assisted Translation” and was created to describe all the software packages and suites that have been designed to assist the translators during their work. Recently, the term “TEnTs”, i.e. “Translation Environment Tools”, has been gaining more ground, because for many translators CAT tools refer only to translation memories, while those who have no contact with the field of translation might think that they refer to machine translation software. In fact, any electronic tool used by modern translators in order to be assisted during the translation process, to increase their productivity and to make their professional life easier is a CAT tool. Translation memories, terminology management programs, electronic dictionaries, text alignment software, project management systems, quality assurance tools and even spell checkers are some examples. TEnTs, a term coined by Jost Zetzsche, is a more precise term describing tools, where the translation process takes place assisted by a number of technologies. On the other hand, the problem with the term “translation memories” (TM), which are a subcategory of CAT tools and TEnTs, is that it does not describe the full range of capabilities of such programs. The use of a translation memory is usually only one of the many functions offered by these applications, which nowadays provide a wider range of features. However, these are the tools that we will discuss about in this article.

Overview of CAT tools’ key functions

Before discussing who can benefit from CAT software, let’s first take a look at the basic functions and features that they offer. The following list includes the basic functions found in most of them. Keep in mind, however, that each tool may provide an extensive range of extra capabilities in order to facilitate various aspects of the translation process.

a) Translation memory

The main function, from which these tools take their name, is the creation and use of a translation memory. A translation memory is nothing more than a file, where we store segments of translated text in the form of translation pairs, consisting of the segment in the source language and the corresponding segment translated into the target language. This way the program “remembers” each previously translated sentence, so the translator doesn’t have to translate anything twice.

b ) Terminology Management

TM suites usually include a tool for creating and managing glossaries. Using this, we can create our own glossaries or use those of our customers during the translation via the same interface, where the translation is taking place. In fact, the terms that exist in the glossary are automatically identified and highlighted by the program and the currently available translations are provided for automatic insertion.

c ) Concordance

Our saved translations can be used not only to avoid the trouble of having to translate the same sentence several times but also to refer to them and see how we have translated specific terms, words, or phrases in the past. This function is called concordance and it involves the creation of a table, where the word or phrase that we are searching for appears within the textual context of both the source and the target language.

d) Word Count

Most TM programs allow the calculation of the words that need translation, not only in total but also on the basis of a comparison with the sentences that have already been translated and stored into the memory. That way, we get the so called “fuzzy matches” (i.e. the segments that resemble -to some extent- to the sentences that already exist in the memory), “100% matches”, (i.e. identical segments already translated in our memory), “no matches” (i.e. the segments that we have to translate from scratch), and last but not least “repetitions” (i.e. the number of words in the segments that are repeated within the file and which we will need to translate only once).

e ) Translation of a wide variety of file types

Although we might find it easy to always translate in a simple text editor, such as Word or Writer, this is not always possible. There is a plethora of file formats that we are asked to translate, including markup files (HTML, XHTML, etc.) and DTP files (Framemaker, InDesign). TM programs support many different file formats, which can be opened and translated without having installed the respective programs on our computer. They also enable us to deliver translated files without having to waste time maintaining the formatting of the original file and also without the fear of inadvertently altering the coding that may lead to serious functional problems.

Which translators benefit from them?

Keeping in mind the functionality of these programs, we can distinguish three categories of professional translators: those for whom translation memories are considered an inevitable necessity, others who simply find them a helpful application and the rest, for whom TMs are a completely unnecessary tool.

a) Translators of technical texts

The translators of technical texts are the group of professionals, for whom CAT tools are an inevitable prerequisite. Translation agencies and companies involved in technical content translation and localization projects consider the use of such a tool as a top requirement for the translators they hire. Technical texts such as manuals, brochures technical data sheets, website and software files are exactly the kind of files, for whose localization, TMs were primarily designed for. The functionality of such programs can lead to a dramatic reduction in the time required to translate such files, mainly because of their high volume of repetitions. Moreover, terminology management plug-ins ensure the consistency of corporate terminology, which is a top priority for this kind of customers. In addition, the files containing the texts usually fall into the category of those that cannot be opened with a simple text editor and can contain code (e.g. the markup language files of a website), which should not be altered by the translator. CAT tools help to avoid such problems by protecting the code and giving access only to the text that needs to be translated, thus maintaining the file format and the formatting of the text. Finally, we should note that such files are often sent to the translator as a bilingual file that is used exclusively by a particular tool in order to facilitate the internal workflow of the company.

b ) Translators of texts that contain terminology

Translators engaged in legal and financial projects or those who work on scientific texts, which contain much terminology, are not usually required to deal with either complex file formats or high repetitive content. However, in this case the creation of the glossary and its ease of use within the same interface of the translation editor, without having to open a separate program to search for terminology, not only saves time and effort but also ensures the consistent use of the terminology. Concordance also plays an important role in the consistency of terminology, since it provides the capability of searching for a term in the translation memory in order to see how it was translated in the past. So while such translators can claim that CAT tools are not necessary for them, they certainly cannot deny the advantages that they offer them.

c ) Translators of literature and non-editable files

Obviously, translators of literary texts do not need to invest in CAT software. These tools offer no function that can “ease” their type of work. Finally, there are also colleagues who mostly work with various texts (diplomas, transcripts, contracts, etc.), which, however, are only available in hard copy and cannot be scanned or their scanned copy is of poor quality and its conversion to editable format (e.g. to a Word file) has poor results. This is also a case, where CAT tools cannot help, although we should note that some have a built-in optical character recognition (OCR) plug-in in case we have a scanned copy of good quality.

Available options

A translator who decides today to acquire a CAT tool has plenty of available options, with different capabilities and a wide price range​​. The same program is often offered in different versions with decreasing price depending on how limited its functions are.

The most popular choices include programs, such as SDL Trados Studio, Wordfast Pro, MemoQ, Déjà Vu, Across and Star Transit. These programs primarily offer an independent interface, where all processes of the translation workflow take place, among which the word count, the creation and management of translation memories and terminology databases and, of course, the translation of various file types. The full versions are not always affordable, but many offer free versions with limited functionality, for example a limited number of words or files types that can be translated with it. That way they try to accommodate the needs of the translation offices looking for people who can work with these programs, but who may not be able to buy the full version.

Some programs, such as Metatexis or Wordfast Classic, are integrated and operated from within Microsoft Word and therefore are a more “user-friendly” option for those seeking a more familiar working environment. Another advantage is that their price is usually much more affordable.

There are also free solutions that one can choose, like OmegaT and Anaphraseus, with a decent amount of functions that covers the basic needs of a translator.

Finally, the latest trends in the field of CAT tools have adopted cloud technology, offering a different approach to the translation process, the management of language resources and the billing of services. Some indicative solutions of this kind are Translation Workspace, XTM Cloud and Memsource. In this case, the memories and glossaries are stored in the cloud or on the servers of the clients and the translation process takes place either via web browsers, or through standalone applications. These tools are gaining ground as they save time and money for project management, removing the dozens of e-mails with plenty of attachments and do not require the installation of programs on the translator’s computer. Moreover, they enable the simultaneous work of several translators in a specific file giving them access to shared translation memories and glossaries. The cost is usually carried by the translation agency, since the access to the online application or the use of the individual program is free. If we want to use these tools independently as our main TM solution, pricing usually follows the practice of Software as a Service (SaaS), where instead of a one-off payment, we pay the service per month or per number of words for translation.

To sum up, it is clear that the translator who wishes to acquire a CAT tool has the ability to select from a wide range of options that can meet any need and budget. Given the fact that the acquisition of such a tool is an important investment for the career of a translator, there are many factors that one must take into account before reaching a final decision. These factors include the range of the program’s functions, the interface, the file types it supports, the ease of learning it, the demand from the customers, the technical support options and, of course, the price. The precise identification of our professional needs and the proper evaluation of the benefits of each program will make our choice more targeted and will increase our chances to find the right assistant for our demanding work.

Common-Sense-Advisory

Can’t Read, Won’t Buy: Why Language Matters on Global Websites

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An International Survey of Global Consumer Buying Preferences

By: Donald A. DePalma, Benjamin B. Sargent, and Renato S. Beninatto

Companies large and small religiously devote marketing, sales, support, and product development funds to educating prospects and convincing them of their products’ value – except when it comes to international markets.1 As our earlier research has shown, communication tends toward incomplete or inaccurate translations. The assumption that potential buyers “probably speak English” drives inadequate localization, warring against the gut feeling that people are unlikely to buy products they cannot understand or that do not appeal to them.

As a result, many firms still debate whether it makes business sense to globalize their online marketing, online commerce sites, and call centers. Nonetheless, research dating back to 1998 indicates a high propensity for people to buy in their own language.2 Until now, there has been no large-scale, independent behavioral study of consumers to validate either argument.

This report describes the results of an eight-nation survey conducted in July and August 2006. It includes the responses from over 2,400 consumers who answered questions about their behavior and preferences for website visits and purchases, in English and in their own language, across a wide range of product types.

  • The survey crossed three continents. We used a third-party consumer panel company to invite participants to take our poll and collect the results. Our sample represented three continents, with at least 300 consumers each from Brazil, China (PRC), France, Germany, Japan, Russia, Spain, and Turkey. We chose these eight non-Anglophone countries because they have large populations, are economically significant, and represent a mix of nationalities generally perceived as linguistically tolerant or intolerant.
  • Most people prefer buying in their own language. Our data set only includes web users who purchased online, so results are representative of “buyers” rather than visitors in general. No one should be surprised to find that more than half our sample (52.4%) buys only at websites where the information is presented in their language. More than 60 percent of consumers in France and Japan told us they buy only from such sites. When we factored in language competence, we found that people with no or low English skills were six times more likely not to buy from Anglophone sites than their countrymen who were proficient in English.
  • Language significantly influenced more important purchases. The vast majority (85.3%) of our respondents feels that having pre-purchase information in their own language is a critical factor in buying insurance and other financial services. Conversely, just 45.8 percent of the sample told us that language is important to buying clothes on the web. The more valuable an item, the more likely it is that someone will want to read about the product and buy it in their own language.
  • It takes more than local language to sell something. Over two-thirds (67.4%) visit English-language sites monthly or more frequently, but just a quarter (25.5%) regularly purchase goods or services at those properties. Even with information available in the local language, the inability to use their own credit cards or currency stymies many international buyers. Converting those international browsers to buyers requires translation plus improved site performance and commercial enablers such as credit card and country specific transaction support.
  • Global brands trump language and price. Half of our sample (50.8%) would buy a global brand over a local one, even without translated information. Looking at individual countries, just Germany and Japan fell below the 50- percent mark. However, having information in their own language was more important to 56.2 percent of our total sample than a low price.