Category Archives: Technology

I’ll just throw it into Google Translate

Ever wonder if you should save some money by using Google Translate instead of a professional human translator? If the text is anything important, then you probably shouldn’t.

The technology is impressive, but it’s not yet ready to replace humans. As a fun example of why I say this, consider what happens when you use Google Translate to translate the lyrics of Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s Takin’ Care of Business into Russian and then back into English.

Original lyrics in English

English to Russian and back (via Google Translate)

You get up every morning from your alarm clock’s warning
Take the 8:15 into the city
There’s a whistle up above and people pushin’, people shovin’
And the girls, who try to look pretty

You get up every morning with a warning on the Service in
Take the 8:15 into the city
There’s a whistle at the top and the people pushin ‘people shovin’
And girls who try to look pretty

And if your train’s on time, you can get to work by nine
And start your slaving job to get your pay
If you ever get annoyed, look at me, I’m self-employed
I love to work at nothing all day

And if your train is on time, you can get to work by nine
And start your slaving job to get their salaries
If you ever annoyed, look at me, I’m self-employed
I love working for the whole day nothing

And I’ll be takin’ care of business every day
Takin’ care of business every way
I’ve been takin’ care of business, it’s all mine
Takin’ care of business and working overtime, work out

And I’ll be takin care of business every day
Care Takin ‘business in all respects
I’m taking care of business, it’s all mine
Care Takin ‘business and working overtime, work out

If it were easy as fishin’, you could be a musician
If you could make sounds loud or mellow
Get a second-hand guitar, chances are you’ll go far
If you get in with the right bunch of fellows

If it were easy, like Fishin ‘, you could be a musician
If you could make sounds loud or mellow
Get a used guitar, chances are you will go far
If you get the right bunch of fellows

This is taken a bit further with Adele’s “Hello” in the following video by Malinda Kathleen Reese.

Here’s her description of the process of generating the lyrics.

Please comment below if you have any funny examples of Google Translate falling short.

Syncing Outlook tasks with an iPhone without Exchange Server

Last night I signed up for an Audible.com subscription. I redeemed my first credit for an audiobook that I had enjoyed listening to years ago: Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time. After getting through the first few chapters I wanted to find a way to sync my non-Exchange Outlook tasks with my iPhone. Surely, I’m not the first person to want to do this.

I was surprised how difficult it was to find a solution. First, I looked at Producteev, which has an iPhone app and an Outlook plugin—or at least it used to. Then I came across Appigo Todo, which supports syncing Outlook tasks to the iPhone without the need for Exchange Server—until the end of the year. Finally, I found Toodledo and gSyncit—and now I’m syncing my tasks without Exchange Server. Total cost: $22.98.

Here’s what you have to do:

  1. Sign up for Toodledo (free).
  2. Install the iPhone app ($2.99 on 11/15/2012).
  3. Buy a license for gSyncit, an Outlook plugin ($19.99 on 11/15/2012).
  4. Install gSyncit on your PC.
  5. Add your Toodledo account to gSyncit
    1. Go to the gSyncit tab in Outlook
    2. Go to Settings > Toodledo Sync > Task Sync
    3. Click New
    4. Add your Toodledo username and password
    5. Click Verify Account
    6. Click Select Folder… and select your Outlook task folder

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This may not be directly related to translation, but it’s a technical solution that will help this freelancer better manager his time. Enjoy!

If you have an alternative, possibly better, solution, please do share!

An expert misusing terminology obliterates confidence

I recently translated more than 50 pages of Russian—nearly 16,000 words–for a video course about Microsoft Word 2010.  Half of the job was supposed to be proofreading a previous, partial translation.  Unfortunately, I had to retranslate from scratch, because the original translation was utterly unacceptable.

Utterly unacceptable?  Well, how much confidence would you place in a mechanic who wants to sell you a “grease change” instead of “oil change”?  Or a doctor who recommends a “physical quiz” rather than a “physical exam”?  If I don’t have confidence in your ability to teach me about Microsoft Word 2010, then I won’t be watching your video course.  And if the content of your Microsoft Word video course casts doubts in my mind, I won’t likely trust any of your other content.  Nearly everything worth translating has specialized terminology that must be used correctly. 

Video courses for text editors are no exception.  During my proofreading, I found terminology used incorrectly.  Consider the following Russian text about applying text effects in Microsoft Word 2010:

Также вы можете добавлять эффекты по одному, для этого раскройте один из списков: структура, тень, отражение или свечение и выберете один из предложенных вариантов.

Here is the original—and utterly unacceptable—translation:

You can also add effects one by one. To do this, open one of the lists: structure, shadow, reflection or luminescence and select one of the offered options.

The Russian text refers to a specific part of the user interface.  A proper translation must make the connection between the user interface and the terminology used.  Here’s my translation:

You can also add effects one at a time.  To do this, open one of the submenus: Outline, Shadow, Reflection, or Glow–and select one of the options.

Note the correlation between the list of submenus and the relevant part of the user interface.  The original translation uses “structure” rather than “Outline” and “luminescence” rather than “Glow”.  Do you trust a Microsoft Word expert that’s telling you how to change the “text structure” or apply a “luminescence effect”?

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