Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Translating in 3D

pic of 4 sets of glasses set back from each other to give 3D effect

A recent Anglicity blog dealt with perspective and thinking in 3D. Translators have to think in three dimensions. Their deliberations go far beyond the flat text. They also need cultural sensitivity. These abilities set the best translators apart from machines.

Social media translations
Today, automated translation is often used to translate social media. It is great for gist translations in situations that do not require 100% accuracy. The end result can sometimes be flat and one-dimensional. There is a heavy reliance on existing translations. There is no "extra value". The approach may be fit for purpose, but not always...

History in a tweet
The tweet below is loaded with historical and cultural significance. History is repeating itself. In reverse.

Added value of human translation
If you were not alive in 1956 or are unaware of Hungarian history, you need an informed translator to help you understand the full meaning. You need a translator to provide the missing dimensions for you - to put the subject into 2D, and then into 3D.

2D = history - You need your translator to advise you on the history - i.e. to take your perspective back in time. Such information may influence your decisions on what action to take. There may be potential in-country reactions to consider. This informed perspective will influence the tone of your communications.

3D = contemporary background - You need your translator to advise you on the current situation in the country and sentiment towards your country - i.e. to project your thinking forward. You need to fully understand the tweet and its sensitivity before taking action. Again, you need to establish the correct tone for your communications.
Added value of context 
The translated tweet is flat without its historical and cultural context. If you use an automated translation without a translator's advice, you could get an explosive reaction and damage your brand. Timing is important. You may need to avoid sensitive or simply busy periods. One region may be more sensitive to your message than another.

Automated translation is preferred when time is of the essence. Going too fast to assess cultural and historical significance can sometimes backfire. A measured human approach can win the race without regrets.

Refugee crisis call to humans
There is a refugee crisis in Hungary. Cries have gone out for help. Not to machines. No. Urgent help has been asked of human translators and interpreters. It seems that human is best in a crisis after all.

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