Thoughts on White Paper by Merrill Brink International


I just read the White Paper titled, “From ‘Detect’ to ‘Prevent': Translation Solutions as a Preventative Tool in Your Anti-Corruption Program” by Merrill Brink International. As a freelancer specializing in legal translation, the concept of prevention was eye-opening.

(The full paper can be downloaded here)

Stating that language localization is critical for preventing and detecting corrupt practices, the paper quotes the FCPA Guidance that writes: “Indeed, it would be difficult to effectively implement a compliance program if it was not available in the local language so that employees in foreign subsidiaries and access and understand it.”

As this quote indicates, global corporate compliance requires employees of different linguistic background to fully understand rules and regulations and to properly implement them, despite such intrinsic differences. Thus, professional translation, which ensures accuracy and local adaptation unlike simple bilingual translation, is crucial for facilitating proper compliance by foreign workers.

In essence, this paper promotes a shift from a “detection only” model to a model that uses language as a part of a “preventative program” against corruption.

As a freelance translator, I feel that translating for prevention is more rewarding than translating for detection. But, at the same time, translating for prevention requires even greater care and time put into the translation process. The review will need to take place over a considerable period of time, and multiple proofreaders and editors will need to take part in ensuring accuracy and local adaptation.

In making the move from detection to prevention, I hope that translation agencies will make greater efforts to keep rates at the proper level and increase the lead-time to ensure proper prevention, instead of continuing to make unfruitful promises to cut costs and shorten lead-times; because this would, after all, be detrimental to prevention and create even more translation for detection.

Review: Smartling Translator Interface and Japanese User Experience


A couple of weeks ago, I tweeted “I wish I had the chance to use #Smartling.” A few moments later, I got a response from Jack Welde, CEO of Smartling, generously offering me to try their translator tool. So, here’s my review.

To introduce, Smartling is a translation technology company that moves the translation workflow into the cloud. It automates the collection of digital content from website and apps and facilitates translation without the need for internationalizing code.

As a freelance translator, what I feel is special about their tool is the “in-context view.” This is the first time I’ve ever seen this technology, and after using it, I’ve fallen in love with it. I feel this is an extremely valuable development in “how translation is done.”

Translator Interface

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 9.24.52 PM

Summary View

The interface of the translator tool is extremely simple. Unfortunately, there is no way of viewing this in Japanese, so Japanese translators would not be given the option to view it in their native language. There are only three components to the interface: Summary View, Translation View, and Word Count/Analysis View. 

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 5.39.39 PM

List View of Strings

Once I click on the Translations tab, I’m immediately taken to a List View of all the strings that are in progress. It’s quite intuitive, with the option to sort by status (i.e. not translated, translated, strings with unresolved issues) and search specific strings by keyword. 

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 5.44.32 PM

In-Context View

Once I click on the Add Translation button, I’m taken to an in-context view of the website I’m translating, with the translation interface on the bottom half. Here, there’s a button to open a new window for Glossary, Style Guide and TM Search. Personally, this is a bit distracting, because it adds an extra step for closing the window after searching.

When clicking on my name, I get the option to customize my shortcuts. For Save Translation, I try to change it to Command + Return, but unfortunately the interface does not allow me to use Return as one of the shortcut keys. This is quite annoying, given that I use Command + Return to save translations in both Memsource and Wordfast.

When opening the Translation Memory through shortcut, I notice that it offers a suggestion (automated translation), but this worries me because there is no disclosure of which MT is being used. Is my translation being sent to Google without permission?

Lastly, to return to the List View, I need to click on the small “x” button on the upper right corner of the top tab. But it actually took me quite a bit of time to find this button, because the color of it is gray on a gray background, which makes it nearly impossible to spot for the color blind. 

Japanese User Experience

As mentioned earlier, there is no Japanese interface to Smartling. There would be great value created for the Japanese translator if an option is given to work in their native language.

Font and Font Size 

The font size and appearance both look great in Japanese. Usually, the English text ends up being longer than the Japanese, but this is not the case with Smartling. I’m assuming that Smartling has taken care of this by automatically adjusting the spacing and font size. Overall, the in-context view for Japanese fits neatly into place with no visible conversion problems.

Translation Commands

After translating a string, there’s a button on the bottom to save it. Or, you can just create a keyboard shortcut for it. The same applies to all other operations. You can move between strings with a shortcut, as well as reference the translation memory with a shortcut. Everything is neatly packed in a simple interface with a few keyboard shortcuts to maneuver all the operations required by the translator.


In Japanese, it’s quite typical to add line breaks for information that you want to emphasize. For example, in my website there is an English line: “Please RFQ at”. In Japanese, I would want it to say: “お見積もりは下記メールアドレスまでお問い合わせください。[Line Break x 2]”. The in-context view does not show the two line breaks I want to add, so I’m left guessing whether the final product will have the line breaks as I intend them to look.


I find the concept of “snippets” (or smaller parts of segments that are governed by their formatting) to be less intuitive for the average Japanese user. Let’s take for example the following sentence in my profile: “I am a full-time Japanese translation and localization professional .” In Japanese, this would be translated as “私はフルタイム翻訳者兼ローカリゼーションプロフェッショナルです。” As you can see here, a simple formatting in the source English, turns into a operation in two places for the Japanese, and in this case I require 5 snippets for the 1 segment, but I am only given 3 available snippets.


Smartling revolutionizes the translation process through its in-context view. It has proven to be smooth, clear and accessible to the average Japanese translation user as exemplified by my experimentation. There are some minor improvements that can be made to the interface, including flexibility of shortcut commands as well as better visibility of the Close (x) button. In addition, the translator tool for the Japanese user proves effective, but also requires some improvements such as the ability to see line breaks in the in-context view as well as making the concept of “snippets” for formatting more intuitive and accessible to the Japanese user.

Cat tools comparative review


Teddy Okuyama:

CAT Comparative Review by Francesco Pugliano

Originally posted on Localization in Silicon Valley:


No, this post is not about Caterpillar CATs, it’s about the so called Computer Aided Translation tools ;-)  But there are so many analogies between the heavy industry and our industry that I wanted to use their logo…

I took the time to compile an extensive list of CAT tools available on the market today, both commercial and Open Source. The goal is to compile a gap analysis and a comparison review.

Here’s the list of CAT tools:

Across Déjà Vu Lokalize Omega T Pootle WordFast
Alchemy Publisher GlobalSight Swordfish Omega T+ SDL Trados Studio Microsoft Helium
AnyMem gtranslator MemSource Ocelot Similis Microsoft LocStudio
Atril Déjà Vu Kilgray MemoQ MetaTexis Open Language Tools Star Transit Uniscape Translator Studio
CafeTran Lingotek MultiTrans Poedit Virtaal RC-WinTrans Translator’s

View original 255 more words

Review: Haiku Deck via SlideShare


I’ve recently made three slide shows using Haiku Deck via SlideShare, a LinkedIn service. You can find my slide shows at the bottom of this post. I enjoyed the simplicity of creating the Haiku Deck, which allowed me to get to the point and cut all slack. But I also found it to limit creativity in some places and to be overly solicitous in others.

1) Haiku Deck’s minimalist concept

Haiku Deck has 5 slide types, a font size that adjusts on its own, and rows that don’t allow line breaks. The features are very rigid with little or no space for user creativity, but it definitely simplifies and speeds up the process of creating a slide show.

2) Haiku Deck’s awesome background pictures

Haiku Deck comes with a multitude of photos you can choose from, for free, to be added to your background. This helps convey your message more from pictures than from the words (obviously to complement the limited amount of space given for actual text). This also likens to the Japanese “haiku” poetry style, which limits the text to 5-7-5 syllables, but artfully conveys the message through beautiful imageries.

3) Irritating promotion at the end of every slide show

At the end of every single slide show you create, Haiku Deck inserts a slide that says: “Inspired? Create your own Haiku Deck presentation on SlideShare. Get started” This is very irritating, because this obvious solicitation at the end defeats the entire message of my slide show by making it sound like a promotion. The sad part is that I don’t see an option for turning this promotion off, or even signing up for a paid version to remove this solicitation.

Haiku Decks are minimalist and don’t have too much content. Their effectiveness is thus dubitable, but they’re at least easy for users to create, and easy for readers to flip through.

Happy New Year! 2015


New Year's Card

Japanese people send a New Year’s Card (called Nengajo) each year for this day.
It celebrates the coming year, and looks back on the past year with appreciation.
The Chinese Zodiac sign for 2015 is the Goat, printed in calligraphy down the middle.
The Year of the Goat symbolizes creativity, intelligence and calmness.
May we all have a creative, intelligent and calm year in 2015!

Omotenashi: A Japanese Spirit of Localization


What is the Japanese word, omotenashi? How is it related to localization? I think that the impetus behind translators and localizers, in fact, can be expressed as omotenashi.

1. Omotenashi means hospitality…and a little more

Muneyuki Joraku, who has had a long career in the hospitality business, explains: “Omotenashi has a similar meaning to hospitality in English, but it suggests a deeper part of the human consciousness” and further states that, in omotenashi, “the host anticipates the needs of the guests in advance and offers a pleasant service that guest don’t expect”.

2. Izumi Suzuki, giving omotenashi in 1980s Detroit

In Found in Translation by Nataly Kelly and Jost Zetzsche, the authors share a story of a Japanese hotel worker helping Japanese businessmen in Detroit back in the 1980s, who had bare minimum English proficiency, to assist them not just to get around, but also to feel at home.

The book reads: “Back in the 1980s, waves of Japanese businessmen started to arrive in Detroit, the automotive capital of the world. Many hotels noticed an increase in the number of these newcomers, but one local hotel, part of the Sherton chain, was lucky enough to have an employee, Izumi Suzuki, who spoke Japanese and was able to help with the language barrier. [Suzuki shares:] ‘I translated menus. I translated phone dialing instructions. I translated many things to make their stay more comfortable’” (emphasis added by me; 87).

The authors continue: “Suzuki often found herself in the role not just of translator, but of cultural adviser…Suzuki brought calm to the madness by helping Japanese businesspeople feel as if they had a taste of Japan in the heartland of America. Making them feel truly at home was not an easy task” (emphasis added by me, 88)

3. Omotenashi comes from genuine care

Omotenashi, for me, means “genuine care.” It’s not the type of superficial service you receive in exchange for something else, like money. It comes from the heart. I think that this spirit of care to help someone find their way around in foreign territory also underlies localization.

4. Localizing with omotenashi

What drives us translators to find the most easily understandable and culturally acceptable translations? I think it’s our care for the countries we localize for, our care for those cultures, and our care for those worldviews separate from our own.

Localization requires sensitivity that goes beyond profit. It requires a spirit of hospitality with genuine care (omotenashi) to help those who don’t speak the foreign language feel comfortable and truly at home, just as Izumi Suzuki did in the 1980s. Without her, you could just imagine how displaced and lost those businessmen would have felt in Detroit!

As translators and localizers, we help people of different cultures and languages feel at home and comfortable, whoever they are, wherever they are from.

Basic Translation Terminologies for Newbies


This video covers basic terminologies used in the translation industry. I’ve created this for new freelancers and others new to the industry to give a basic overview, involving three components: internationalization & localization, project management, as well as translation and interpretation.

Click here to download the slides. It includes the following terms:

– Translation
– Freelance Translator
– Translation Portal
– Computer Aided Translation (CAT)
– Interpretation
– Simultaneous
– Consecutive
– Sight Translation
Project Management
– Project Management (PM)
– Translation Management System (TMS)
– Translation Memory (TM)
– Desktop Publishing (DTP)
Internationalization & Localization
– Internationalization (i18n)
– Localization (l10n)
– Translation vs. Localization
– Quality Assurance (QA)
Source: Wikipedia, Multilingual Magazine Glossary, Google Search