Smart Ways #666: The Laughing Salesman, Attack of the Chatbots, and m—

Don’t open this post! Don’t open this post!

Smart Ways #666 (1)

Okay, so you did. Now you have to read it to the end, or this guy ↑ will come for you and make you buy CAT licenses that you don’t need. You’ve been warned — mwahaha(ha)!

The #XL8oween Special

Earlier this week, the whole skeptical world was celebrating the night of the living dead all saints, and we translators were no exception. So here are some scary picks we digged out (or should we say “unearthed”?) for our diegest.

Alison Kroulek of K International shares a list of 13 “fiendlishly bad” translations. From roasted children to coats made of human skin and from donkey demons to corpse rides, these spooky picks will easily bring you some nice nightmares, hopefully of merely linguistic nature. In a similar post, the marketing guys at Lionbridge go at car manufacturers with homicidal slogan translations and not-so-yummy examples from the food industry.

Next in our list is the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament. These funnest guys in the terminology universe write about Aklo, a fictional language so sinister that no one should ever utter it, lest they “incant a spell capable of calling forth evil.” Well, with November 8 less than a week away, I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more Aklo these days.

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Merriam-Webster brings us more reasons to sleep peacefully with a list of 15 “strangest, most elusive beasts.” Our favorites are Tommy-Knocker and Windigo (and no, he does not break winds). Even if you’re not in the mood for dictionary definitions, you will enjoy the wonderfully sinister (or sinisterly wonderful?) illustrations by Tory Novikova.

John Kelly of Mental Floss and JW McCormack both go in the same direction, introducing us to more monstrous etymology and linguistics. But while the former is pretty concise and boiled down to dry facts (noblesse oblige!), the latter is a true monster of an article and not for the faint of heart. An example? “Misquamacus [a spirit that takes possession of a fetus — SW] doesn’t wait to grow up, but just goes for it after charging out of his mother-host’s uterus.” Enjoy!

But the creativity prize goes to Gosia Szaniawska and the Text United team, who came up with a whole set of translation-themed games that you can play over the weekend with your linguist friends. The rules are pretty simple: one person describes a situation, and the others try to guess the scenario leading to it by asking yes/no questions. Here’s one: “Andy, a translation project manager enters a translator’s office to find Tommy lying on his desk, face down, not breathing. What happened?

Perhaps, he got an assignment to translate to Aklo?

The Laughing Salesman

For many translators, the need to “sell themselves” is more horrifying than any horror story. To help you fight your fears and come back stronger, Luke Spear has published a book that’s called just that: “The Translation Sales Handbook.”

According to Mr. Spear, after reading this book you will be able to:

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  • Confidently justify a higher rate
  • Make your website work harder for you
  • Save money on ‘SEO experts’ through DIY SEO
  • Streamline your sales approach
  • Position yourself to find the best clients
  • Use productivity tools to grow faster

I haven’t read the whole piece, but already found some advice that made me thinking — and isn’t it the best thing a book can do?

The best part is that the “handbook” comes for free in digital form — all you have to do is subscribe to Luke’s newsletter. Sounds like an easy deal!

Rise of the Machines

We already talked of the latest machine translation news before. But as MT is the biggest bogeyman for translators these days, we could not help including it in our Halloween issue. But, tricks and treats aside, we’ve got a very mind-clearing article from none else than Daniel Marcu, Director of Strategic Initiatives of the Information Sciences Institute at the University of South California.

The article is a report based on a survey of an extensive number of industry stakeholders, from actual translators to LSP executives to MT researchers. The surveyed were asked eight questions:
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  1. What are the top barriers to broader machine translation adoption in the Language Services industry?
  2. What impact will increased machine translation quality have on the Language Services market
  3. What impact will increased machine translation quality have on the Language Services industry?
  4. What impact will increased machine translation quality have on professional translators
  5. What impact will increased machine translation quality have on MT researchers?
  6. Why is the Language Services market so fragmented, with the top 10 Language Services companies havign combined revenues that represent less than 10% of the market?
  7. What problem should a team solve if it started a machine translation company today?
  8. How many machine translation providers will we have in 10 years?

The answers are at times obvious, but in several places quite surprising. One thing that all the participants (including the researcher himself) agreed upon is that technology savvy professional translators will replace those who do not embrace and adapt to change. Keep that in mind if you are still abstaining from using CAT tools for some reasons (many of which are just myths).

Attack of the Chatbots

But not all machines are a hazard to translators (if any are). We at SmartCAT, for instance, have just rolled out the first version of chatbots. Chatbots will not come to take your soul or your work. Instead, they will communicate with you in your favorite messenger and let you stay abreast of your projects without leaving the comfort of wherever it is that you feel most comfortable. Here’s a short teaser video of chatbots in action (no zombies involved):

Although in its current form chatbots are most useful for project managers, we are working on adding more interactive features for translators as well. Stay tuned!

Your own #XL8oween story

pablo (2)As I’m finishing this digest, I’m hearing voices in my head I’m thinking: “tickling the nerves” is so much fun that it would be a horrible crime to end this #XL8oween like this. After all, we translators have a lot of fearful stories to tell, especially if you look at the Things Translators Never Say Facebook group.

So here’s the deal: Remember a translation project that was so odd it gave you the creeps and share it on Facebook or Twitter with the #XL8oween tag. We will select the best stories and publish it in one of our next digests. As they say, writing down a fear helps make it less real.

You don’t want it to be real, do you?


So you’ve read it to the end. Now the guy in the topmost picture won’t come for you — congratulations!

Have a peaceful rest of week and a relaxing weekend, but remember…

#XL8oween goes on!


About the author

Vladimir "Vova" Zakharov
Hi, I’m Vladimir “Vova” Zakharov, the Head of Community at SmartCAT.

Translation is my profession and my passion, and I’m excited to be able to share it with the amazing SmartCAT community!

Questions? Suggestions? Just tweet us or write to Facebook page!


 

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