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May 27, 2012 / ABC Translation Services

US Supreme Court decision reaffirms definitions of interpreting and translation as separate disciplines

The simple answer, now upheld by the Supreme Court, is that translators write, and interpreters speak.
When Japanese professional baseball player Kouichi Taniguchi fell through a wooden deck at the Marianas Resort and Spa while on vacation in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, he unwittingly set in motion a chain of legal maneuvers that culminated this week when the Supreme Court handed down its ruling.

The question presented before the highest court in the land, however, had nothing to do with construction codes, accident liability or even compensation for pain and suffering. The question presented is whether costs incurred in translating written documents are “compensation of interpreters” for purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 1920(6).

“So what?” may well be your next question. But for translators and interpreters, a cadre of multilingual knowledge workers whose importance continues to grow daily in the globally connected 21st century, and for those who rely on their services, calling things by their names matters. Clear definitions are important; they help ensure that all parties involved understand each other.

Consider Capitol Hill, home to this nation’s lawmakers. Representatives work in the House, while senators work in the Senate. The work they do is similar, but no senator would take kindly to being called a congressman, and no congressman would try to participate in a vote on the Senate floor, even though they both work in Congress.
A similar division of labor exists between translators and interpreters. Translators work with the written word. They translate international treaties. They translate seized documents from Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. They have translated Harry Potter into at least 67 other languages.

In contrast, interpreters made the Nuremburg Trials possible by simultaneously interpreting witness testimony into and out of English, French, German and Russian for those present in the courtroom. Interpreters make it possible for our president to pick up the phone and speak with other world leaders. They work in countless emergency rooms across this country interpreting what doctors and patients say in life and death situations. A literary translator is of no more use to an emergency room doctor than a medical interpreter is to a company that wants to publish the English version of Stieg Larsson’s latest mystery novel.  The skills, disciplines, and job descriptions are quite distinct.

In its opinion, the Court stated that “both the ordinary and technical meanings of ‘interpreter,’ as well as the statutory context in which the word is found, lead to the conclusion that § 1920(6) does not apply to translators of written materials.”

May 27, 2012 / ABC Translation Services

Biodiversity often means linguistic diversity



Biodiversity hot spots — the world’s biologically richest and most threatened locations on Earth — and high biodiversity wilderness areas — biologically rich but less threatened — are some of the most linguistically diverse regions on our planet, according to a team of conservationists.


“Results indicate that these regions (hot spots and high biodiversity wilderness areas) often contain considerable linguistic diversity, accounting for 70 percent of all languages on Earth,” the researchers reportin this the May 7 early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.“Moreover, the languages involved frequently are unique to particular regions, with many facing extinction.”

Currently, biologists estimate yearly losses of species at a rate 1,000 times higher than historic rates. Linguists predict that by the end of the 21st century, 50 to 90 percent of the world’s languages will disappear.

“Paul Ehrlich likened the loss of species to removing the rivets in a plane’s wings,” said Larry J. Gorenflo, associate professor of landscape architecture, Penn State. “How many rivets can you remove before the wing falls off and the plane falls out of the sky? Similarly, how many species can you lose before an ecosystem fails? Unfortunately, stopping species loss in a world of 7 billion people is extremely challenging.

“We conducted this study to understand more about the people living in areas important for biodiversity conservation.”

Previous research indicated a connection between language diversity and biodiversity, but the datasets were geographically imprecise. Now, Gorenflo, working with Suzanne Romaine, Merton Professor of English Language, Merton College, Oxford University, U.K.; Russell A. Mittermeier, president, and Kristen Walker-Painemilla, vice president, social policy and practice, Conservation International, used recently compiled global data showing the geographic locations of more than 6,900 languages compiled for geographic information system (GIS) applications by Global Mapping International. They used the locations of hot spots and high biodiversity wilderness areas compiled in GIS form by Conservation International.

“We looked at regions important for biodiversity conservation and measured their linguistic diversity in an effort to understand an important part of the human dimension of these regions,” said Gorenflo.

The researchers first looked at diversity on a regional level. Locations with an exceptionally high number of species unique to that location that also has a loss of habitat of 70 percent or more — hot spots. Comprising only 2.3 percent of Earth’s surface, intact habitat in the 35 hotspots contain more than half the world’s vascular plants and 43 percent of terrestrial vertebrate species.

In these 35 hotspots, the researchers found 3,202 languages — nearly half of all languages spoken on Earth. These hotspots are spread throughout the world’s continents with the exception of Antarctica.

They also examined linguistic diversity in five high biodiversity wilderness areas, whose remaining habitat covers about 6.1 percent of Earth’s surface and contains about 17 percent of the vascular plant species and 6 percent of the terrestrial vertebrate species. These regions contained another 1,622 languages. As in the case of the hotspots, many languages are unique to particular areas and are spoken by relatively few people, making them susceptible to extinction.

“What ends up happening when we lose linguistic diversity is we lose a bunch of small groups with traditional economics,” said Gorenflo. “Indigenous languages tend to be replaced by those associated with a modern industrial economy accompanied by other changes such as the introduction of chain saws. In terms of biodiversity conservation, all bets are off.”

If losing species biodiversity is like losing rivets from an airplane, losing languages can also have a profound effect. According to Gorenflo, losing these languages can lead to the loss of a lot of environmental information that becomes inaccessible as the words, culture and language disappear.

“I think it argues for concerted conservation efforts that are integrated and try to maintain biodiversity and cultural diversity,” said Gorenflo.

He suggests that without cultural and linguistic diversity, which is increasingly appears to be tied to biological diversity, biodiversity loss likely will continue at alarming rates.

“In many cases it appears that conditions that wipe out species wipe out languages,” said Gorenflo.

The researchers do not know why areas of endangered species concentration and endangered languages coexist. Possibly indigenous cultures, supported by their languages, create the conditions to maintain species and keep the ecosystems working.

“I think basically this study helps to establish these areas of high biodiversity as the world’s most important landscapes,” said Gorenflo.

The researchers believe their study is a starting point to explore the relationship between biological and linguistic-cultural diversity. This will also help develop strategies for conserving species and languages in areas where rich diversity of both exists.

“We want to being to look at selected places with high biological and linguistic diversity to begin to explore the connections between the two, such as Tanzania, where there are 130-plus languages,” said Gorenflo. “Also, the Indo-Burma hotspot in Southeast Asia, where there are nearly 400 languages, and the island of Vanuatu in the Pacific with 100-plus languages.”


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May 27, 2012 / ABC Translation Services

China to Recognize Mongolian Signatures

Authorities in northern China have promised to allow ethnic Mongolians the right to sign official documents using their native language, according to a Mongolian rights group, following years of campaigning by one activist as part of an effort to assert autonomy under Chinese rule.

The pledge could set a precedent for ethnic Mongolians in the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region (IMAR) where hundreds of complaints have been filed against various levels of Chinese government branches for discriminatory policies against members of the minority group.

Munkhdalai Borjigin, a retired employee of San Lian Chemistry in the regional capital Hohhot, told the U.S.- based Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC) that he had received the notice on May 17 after years of appealing to government departments over being repeatedly denied the right to sign bank documents in Mongolian.

According to Munkhdalai, the notice assured him that an official government document would be issued shortly to enforce the order.

The letter was received on the same day that Tao Jian, deputy director of the Autonomous Region Political and Legal Affairs Committee met with Public Security Bureau officials and various banking authorities to adopt the decision, which ordered that signatures in Mongolian be accepted throughout the entire regional banking system, SMHRIC said.

SMHRIC director Enhebatu Togochog said that hundreds of Mongolians across the IMAR had filed similar complaints over being denied banking and other services because they had attempted to sign documents in their native language.

But he remained skeptical that the new government promise would be effectively implemented.

“The authorities have promised that they are going to come out with some official document to ensure that the Mongolian signatures are accepted without any problem, but there is no guarantee that the change will really be fulfilled,” Enhebatu said.

“According to the notice, and according to the explanation by Munkhdalai, it is applicable for everybody—every Mongolian in the autonomous region. But in reality, it’s totally different. I don’t know how the policy will be implemented in the real world,” he said.

“The Chinese authorities have done this many times.”

He gave an example of a Mongolian man who sued the Chinese postal service several years ago because postal workers would not deliver his mail with a Mongolian address printed on the envelope.

The court found in the man’s favor, ordering that the mail had to be delivered as addressed. But since then, Enhebatu said, many postal branches continue to refuse to deliver mail addressed in Mongolian.

“China is not a country of rule of law. They make promises, but in reality it is totally different.”

According to SMHRIC, Munkhdalai had spent years campaigning to have his Mongolian signature accepted on official documents after being repeatedly denied service at banks in the autonomous region.

In September 2006, the former chemical company employee had tried to withdraw money from his account with the Xian Fu Street branch of the Chinese Agricultural Bank, only to be told by a bank employee that signatures in Mongolian were “legally unacceptable” and have his request rejected.

Munkhdalai appealed to the Hohhot City Nationality Affairs Committee, which ordered that the bank employee apologize and allow him to withdraw his money.

In June 2010, Munkhdalai again signed his name in Mongolian while replacing his banking documents at the Jin Qiao Branch of the Chinese Agricultural Bank, but was told to sign using his Chinese name. When he refused, the bank suspended his account.

Munkhdalai filed a lawsuit against the bank, which was heard in July that year by the Hohhot City Saihan District Court. During the proceedings, he refused to speak in Chinese and requested the case be conducted in Mongolian.

On the back of a strong legal argument, Munkhdalai won the case, and the bank was ordered to provide him with compensation and a promise to accept Mongolian signatures in the future.

In November 2010, Munkhdalai appealed to the Hohhot City Hui Nationality District Disciplinary Committee and the Autonomous Region Nationality Affairs Committee, claiming that the refusal of Mongolian signatures in the region was a violation of rights, but was driven out of both offices.

And in March last year, he again had a request to withdraw money from the Agricultural Bank denied at its Xin Hua Street branch based on his refusal to sign his Chinese name, demonstrating that the earlier promise by bank officials was not being honored.

“There is no guarantee that the notice given to me [will be] fully implemented,” Munkhdalai told SMHRIC when asked about the likelihood that the new government pledge would be honored. “But that does not stop me from continuing to fight for my legal rights.”

Earlier, in a blog entry posted on March 23, Munkhdalai highlighted the need for ethnic Mongolians to protect their national language, culture, and identity, despite the obstacles.

“If we do not fight for our own rights, who else will stand up for them?”

In its 2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, released Thursday, the U.S. State Department highlighted another of Inner Mongolia’s most prominent activists, Hada, in calling on China to improve its respect for the integrity of the person, including freedom from disappearance.

“At year’s end authorities continued to hold ethnic Mongolian activist Hada, his wife, and his son in detention without trial or pressing formal charges,” the report said, noting that Hada had been released from prison in December 2010, after serving a 15-year prison sentence on espionage and separatism charges.

Hada had founded the Southern Mongolia Democracy Alliance, which called for a referendum on the future of the IMAR.

May 27, 2012 / ABC Translation Services

Translation FAQs

Translation & Interpretation FAQs

Q: What is the difference between a translator and an interpreter?

A: Translators transfer ideas and concepts expressed in writing from one language to another. As a rule, professional translators work into their native or dominant language from a foreign tongue.

Interpreters use the spoken word to transfer meaning between languages. Interpreters work both into and out of their native tongue.

Translation promotes your business overseas (or at home, to a market that speaks a different language) and helps you gather vital information on customers, technology, and new developments in your field. One example of translation’s importance in today’s economy is localization, the process of adapting a product or service to different cultures and markets. When software is localized, on-screen text and icons, help files, and user’s manuals are translated to fit the target audience. A technically skilled translator will help you design websites for global communication and e-commerce, so your customers overseas feel like they are actually at a “local” website. Customers are more likely to buy from you if you speak their language.

Interpreting is often used in a small group setting (“consecutive interpreting”) such as a legal deposition, medical consultation, or business meeting. “Escort interpreting” is a form of consecutive interpreting used during site visits and travel with delegations. “Simultaneous interpreting,” most often used in a large conference setting, requires the rental of audio equipment (soundproof booths, headsets, microphones, etc.).

Q: How do I pick the right translator or interpreter?

A: Skills and qualifications. Translators and interpreters bring a unique combination of linguistic and subject-area expertise to the job of conveying your message accurately and completely to a foreign reader or listener. Much more than just “switching words,” the job really involves the transfer of concepts into another cultural context.

Translators are skilled in writing, editing, research, and terminology. Typically, translators have resided in a country where the source language is spoken and are familiar with its culture, business practices, and legal system.

Interpreters must be fluent in both languages and possess excellent memory, listening, concentration, and analytical skills. They convey both the meaning and tone of the original statement clearly and accurately, and must be quick-witted, often literally “thinking on their feet.”

Knowing two languages perfectly is not enough to translate or interpret professionally. In addition to their training in translation or interpreting, competent language professionals usually specialize in a particular area (such as law, medicine, finance, or technical fields). Interpreters may be certified for court interpreting at the federal level in some languages. There are also examinations in some states for court and medical interpreting.

Q: Should I look for an individual or a translation company?

A: Translation companies have a depth of resources and can assign a translator that is perfectly suited to your project. Also, translation companies routinely check all work for accuracy, which is something that is beyond the scope of most individual or independent translators. Companies also have long track records and proven success with many satisfied customers.

The strength of a language services company lies in the breadth of resources on which it can call. By working with networks of independent translators and interpreters skilled in different languages and areas of specialization, companies are able to meet a wider variety of needs. The oversight and coordination they provide can be invaluable for large projects which involve many translators, interpreters, and editors working into multiple languages. Translation companies also add value through desktop publishing or typesetting and furnish specialized equipment for interpreting assignments. Be sure to ask for references as to the company’s reputation for consistently delivering high-quality work on time and honoring its cost estimates.

Q: Why should I hire a professional instead of using a free service like Google Translate?

A: As impressive as Google Translate and other similar services are beginning to be, they still cannot do what a human can do: understand a text with all its nuances of meaning and re-create that in just the right words in another language. All Google Translate will do is match words and phrases with previously translated words and phrases in its database. It cannot research the right term for a technical document, find the right play on words for a newspaper article, or craft a message that resonates with a different target audience for an ad that will be used in a different market.

If you want a polished text that you can be proud to put your or your company’s name on, you want to work with a professional translator. And if you have ongoing translation needs, that person can prove an invaluable advisor to help you efficiently manage your documents and your budget.

If you have questions about a translation project, feel free to contact us and we’ll provide free advise – and usually a free quote as well!  Reach us by visiting our website at

May 26, 2012 / ABC Translation Services

Lost in translation: English in Brazil

One of the main challenges leading up to Brazil’s mega-events – including the Rio+20, the World Cup, and the Olympics – is a shortage of English speakers in key sectors, including tourism, transportation, and hospitality. For those who spend lots of time in Brazil and speak Portuguese or hope to become fluent, this is actually an advantage, which can allow for more immersion.

But for one-time visitors or those dependent on English as their only language or the only other way to communicate outside of their native language (such as Chinese, Russian, etc), it can prove to be a problem.

On global English rankings, Brazil does not fare well. EF, a global English education company, released its international English proficiency index for 2011, showing that Brazil ranked as a country with “low English proficiency.” Though it was among the lowest ranking countries, Brazil scored above the “very low proficiency” countries such as Panama and Vietnam.

Released in April, the GlobalEnglish Corporation Business English Index ranked Brazil among the lowest in the world among countries with the least amount of English fluency in the workplace, which puts the country “at a disadvantage.” An Economist Intelligence Unit report released this month indicated that Brazil is one of the countries that struggles the most with the language barrier in international business; nearly three-quarters of Brazilians surveyed said their company had experienced “financial losses as a result of failed cross-border transactions.”

Brazilian surveys reflect this issue, showing low levels of English knowledge at all levels of the socioeconomic spectrum. A Catho survey from late last year found that only 11 percent of Brazilian job candidates could communicate well in English, and only 3.4 percent of all candidates could speak fluent English. A 2009 Catho study found that 24 percent of Brazilian professionals speak fluent English, and that only 8 percent of Brazilian executives speak fluent English.

A lack of English speakers even in high-tech fields has hurt Brazil’s competitiveness in IT and outsourcing like call centers. According to a Data Popular survey released this month, the “new middle class” in Brazil will spend R$28.1 billion (US $13.8 billion) on education in 2012, but only 1 in 5 members of the so-called C class knows how to speak a foreign language.

One writer wrote about the puzzlingly poor translation of Embratur (Brazil’s tourism bureau)’s English site, particularly the interactive World Cup section. Some errors were particularly egregious since they simply required a Google or Wikipedia search rather than a translated phrase. At the end of the post, he wrote:

“Obviously, no one is going to decide not to visit Trancoso because of a vocabulary error. But give up visiting a country that doesn’t have legible information on its official website? With so many other countries with their eye on the billions of dollars from international tourists? It’s not only possible, it’s probable.”

In response, Embratur said it had hired a third-party company, Agencia Click, to do the site and translation, and that it would release the site with a new translation later this year. The whole thing was quite strange, considering that the agency in question, which is one of the largest and well-respected digital communications companies in the country, should have no problem finding real translators. But it’s a symptomatic case in a country where things are often and sometimes unnecessarily lost in translation.

On the other hand, the upcoming mega-events have added pressure to the tourism sector to hire more English speakers. In a recent “review” of São Paulo’s Guarulhos Airport, Kugel found that three different information booth workers were able to communicate in English, providing helpful information about hotels and sightseeing. (However, special groups run by judges aimed to solve issues like lost baggage and overbookings at Brazil’s biggest airports have only a single English-speaking employee, a recent report said.) Language schools estimate that foreign language courses will grow by 30 to 40 percent over the next four years in preparations for the World Cup and Olympics. Last year, around 120 taxi drivers in Rio received English training in a special course for taxistas – the first of its kind in the country – which inspired similar taxi driver courses from Piauí to Rio Grande do Sul.

There are plenty of English speakers in Brazil, but these speakers are sometimes concentrated in specialized fields like finance and web companies. Brazil’s real challenge isn’t just going to be finding and training English speakers in key jobs before the mega-events, but rather improving foreign language education at the elementary and secondary school levels so that the next generation has better opportunities in the global economy.


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May 26, 2012 / ABC Translation Services

Man-to-dolphin conversation? Scientists can now talk like dolphins

A new dolphin speaker device could one day help us talk with these remarkably intelligent life forms, scientists say.

Dolphins live in a world of sound far beyond our own. They can distinguish very small differences in the frequency or pitch of sound waves, and can hear and generate low-frequency sounds below 20 kilohertz that lie within human capabilities, as well as high-frequency sounds of up to more than 150 kilohertz, well beyond the range of our hearing. In addition, dolphins not only can produce tones just as humans do, but they can also communicate at a variety of frequencies simultaneously. With whistles, burst-pulse sounds and clicks, dolphins use sound not only to communicate and to scan their surroundings and prey in the dark sea (called echolocation).

Acoustic research of dolphins to date has mostly focused on recording their sounds and measuring their hearing abilities. Relatively few audio playback experiments have been attempted, since it is difficult to find speakers that can project from a wide range of low to high frequencies like dolphins do, said Heidi Harley, a comparative cognitive psychologist at New College of Florida in Sarasota, who wasn’t involved in developing the dolphin speaker.

Now scientists have developed a prototype dolphin speaker that can project the full range of all of the sounds dolphins make — from those used in communication to echolocation clicks.

The researchers employed piezoelectric components that convert electricity into physical movement and vice versa. These components were capable of broadcasting both high-frequency and low-frequency sounds. The researchers precisely tailored the sizes of these components and the acrylic disk to create an extremely broad range of sounds.

“I am happy if we can communicate with dolphins using the dolphin speaker,” researcher Yuka Mishima at the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology told LiveScience.

The dolphin speaker was developed just a few weeks ago, so dolphin scientists have not had a chance to try it out yet. Mishima and colleagues plan to work with such scientists using the new speaker. The idea is to broadcast specific series of vocalizations and then record the responses; over time, this back and forth could someday both reveal what dolphins are “saying” and allow possible human-dolphin communication.

“We know very little about how dolphins classify their own sounds — we need more perceptual studies to find out, and this equipment may help us do that,” Harley told LiveScience.

As to whether or not this invention could one day result in a human-dolphin translator device, “I think we have a lot to learn about dolphin vocalizations — their productions are complex,” Harley said. “There is still a lot of basic perceptual and acoustic analysis that needs to be done before we can make strong claims about how dolphins are using their vocalizations.”

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May 26, 2012 / ABC Translation Services

Found in translation

Oscar Wilde’s Importance of Being Earnest is one of those quintessentially English works of the theater that the thought of it being produced in another language immediately sets off alarm bells. But it is such a great work of comedy that it has nevertheless been adapted numerous times, not least into Chinese. This weekend sees the revival of a Chinese-language production that premiered 28 years ago, translated by one of Taiwan’s great poets and translators, Yu Guangzhong (余光中).

The play proved an enormous success when it was first shown in a Mandarin and Cantonese version in 1984 and 1985 respectively, under the direction of Daniel Yang (楊世彭), who even then was already a major figure in theater and had staged the works of major European and American playwrights. He is now Professor Emeritus of Theater, University of Colorado Boulder, and Artistic Director Emeritus, Hong Kong Repertory Theater, and his return to this challenging adaptation is a thrilling event for fans of contemporary Asian theater.

Yang said that he would select The Importance of Being Earnest as one of the top five works of theater in the English language, and he has directed the play in five separate productions in Asia over the course of his career.

The success of the Chinese adaptation owes much to the skill of Yu, who is best known as a poet and essayist, and is also a prolific translator. “In the translation of poetry and novels, especially poetry, I cannot lightly make changes to the words on the page. Poetry is designed to be read with care and patience. In a play, on the other hand, the words are spoken by actors, and pass rapidly through the ears’ of the audience. For this reason, the way I deal with the translation of plays is very different from how I approach poetry. It needs to be much more accessible,” Yu said.

Yu relies heavily on his outstanding command of the Chinese language to create dialogue that approximates the lightness and sparkling wit of the original. It is not without some irony that Yu has recently been in the news for criticizing the overemphasis on English language education in Taiwan, especially in relation to the very young. Speaking at a international conference on translation last month, Yu addressed the issue of enhanced English language testing to be introduced by the Ministry of Education. Speaking as one of the most respected translators from English to Chinese, Yu said he didn’t start learning English until high school, and that this late start had never got in his way. Yu warned that foreign language education should not be pressed at the expense of obtaining a solid grounding in Chinese. He said that as a student of foreign languages and a teacher of English, he did not oppose English-language instruction, but added that “I was very lucky in that with my other hand, I retained a very firm grasp of Chinese.”

Yu said that the linguistic subtleties of Wilde made him a great challenge to the translator, but added that on occasion, the nature of the Chinese language made his translations superior to the original. “Wilde loved using symmetrical phrases for effect, and no language on Earth is as good at this kind of symmetrical composition as Chinese,” Yu said.

Apart from the verbal pyrotechnics, Yu added that Importance of Being Earnest is a social satire, and despite the period setting and the razor-sharp banter, the play is rooted in the hypocrisy and vanity that characterized the society of his time; and society has not changed all that much, so the play continues to resonate even in modern Asian society.

May 15, 2012 / ABC Translation Services

An Indigenous Language That Refuses to Die

A small group of no more than twelve boys and girls are gathered in a small classroom in the southwest province of Sonsonate, singing the national anthem, in a scene that could be set in any other school in the country – except here they’re not singing it in Spanish, but in Nawat, the language of their ancestors.

In 2002, teachers at this school took it upon themselves to begin teaching their pupils the language that was spoken by the Nahua-Pipil communities when the Spanish colonialists arrived in the sixteenth century – a language that is now on the brink of extinction.

The language was brought to Central America in pre-Hispanic times by groups that migrated from the central region of present-day Mexico in the tenth century, anthropologist Ramón Rivas explained to IPS.

Nawat, or Pipil as it is also called, is a Uto-Aztecan language descended from Nahuatl, which is still widely spoken in many parts of Mexico. The Salvadoran variety, however, is endangered, and has already vanished elsewhere in Central America.

Today, there are only around 200 Nawat speakers left in this country of 5.7 million, according to the 2009 edition of the Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, published by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

The Atlas, launched early this year just prior to International Mother Language Day (Feb. 21), contains updated data on about 2,500 endangered languages around the world, ranking them in five categories, which go from ‘vulnerable’ to ‘extinct’, according to their degree of endangerment.

Nawat is classified as ‘critically endangered’ – the category prior to extinction, which corresponds to languages in which the only speakers are elderly people who moreover speak the language only partially and infrequently.

When these speakers die they will be taking to their graves the language of an ancestral culture, which was spoken not only in what is now El Salvador but also in other parts of Central America.

The initiative implemented by the teachers in Izalco has not received any official support, although the arrival of the new government of left-wing President Mauricio Funes, who took office on Jun. 1, has raised new hopes.

On Sept. 1, 50 children from the school were invited to sing the anthem in Nawat at a ceremony commemorating El Salvador’s 188 years of independence from Spain, in 1821. The celebration was broadcast live on national television.

“I went to see the undersecretary of education and told him, ‘I want you to support our project,’ and he was interested,” the school’s principal, Juliana Ama, told IPS.

According to Ama, it was at that meeting that they came up with the idea of having the schoolchildren sing the national anthem in Nawat.

IPS tried to contact undersecretary Eduardo Badía to learn what the government’s views are on this, but was unable to arrange a meeting.

As in the case of so many other indigenous languages, Nawat started down the path of extinction when the Spanish conquistadors disembarked in 1524, and the process of transculturation took off. But it was accentuated by political and social processes that got underway towards the end of the colonial period.

One of these processes involved the transfer of indigenous lands to large landowners, which among other factors spurred a number of uprisings in the first two decades of the nineteenth century, Rivas said.

This social upheaval culminated in a major insurrection in 1833, led by indigenous chief Anastasio Aquino, followed by the Salvadoran state’s systematic persecution of anything connected with the culture of the country’s native people, including their languages, well into the next century.

In 1932, General Maximiliano Hernández Martínez ordered the massacre of thousands of Indians in western El Salvador who had taken part in a revolt along with peasants and university and labour activists with links to the Communist Party.

The exact number of victims is unknown, but estimates range from 6,000 to 40,000, according to Rivas, who holds a PhD in anthropology from the Dutch university of Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen.

Fearing for their lives, indigenous survivors tried to conceal their ancestry, stopped speaking their language and abandoned their traditional dress. That same year, Feliciano Ama, chief of the Náhua-Pipil nation, was hung in the central plaza of Izalco to serve as an example for anyone who dared to rebel.

“Things got worse after 1932, when General Hernández imposed a ban on speaking Nawat to further his vision of the nation, in which there was no place for Indians,” said Rivas, who has studied the indigenous populations of El Salvador, and Central America in general, in depth.

Another indigenous language of El Salvador, Chortí, has been extinct since the early nineteenth century, he noted.

According to the UNESCO Atlas, “Every language reflects a unique world-view with its own value systems, philosophy and particular cultural features. The extinction of a language results in the irrecoverable loss of unique cultural knowledge embodied in it for centuries, including historical, spiritual and ecological knowledge that may be essential for the survival of not only its speakers, but also countless others.”

Half of the 6,700 languages currently spoken in the world are in danger of disappearing before the end of the century, UNESCO cautions.

Some recently extinct languages include Eyak, in the U.S. state of Alaska, which disappeared with the death of its last remaining speaker, Marie Smith Jones, in 2008, and Ubyh, in Turkey, lost with the death of Tefuic Esenc, in 1992.

According to the study – which is in its third edition and is the result of an international collaboration of more than thirty linguists from around the world – not only can an endangered language be saved from extinction, it may also be possible to revive already extinct languages, provided there is adequate documentation and a strong motivation within the ethnic community.

But to keep a language from disappearing it’s essential “to create favourable conditions for its speakers to speak the language and teach it to their children,” says the report, which adds that the process of extinction “can be slowed only if urgent action is taken by governments and speaker communities.”

In El Salvador it’s not yet clear if the government will take action to promote the preservation of Nawat, but grassroots efforts are being made.

An example of these efforts is the Intercultural Education programme implemented by the Fundación Círculo Solidario, a Christian NGO that works to recover the country’s ancestral cultures. A major component of the programme is Nawat instruction in the Sonsonate towns of Nahuizalco, Izalco and Santo Domingo de Guzmán, where there are still some speakers of the language.

Teresa Tepas, 70, is one of the students benefiting from the project. “I didn’t learn to speak it when I was little, and now at my age, it’s harder. But little by little, I’m learning,” she told IPS.

“My parents spoke it, but they never pushed us to learn,” she said.

Carlos Cortez, 25, learned to speak Nawat from his grandmother, Teodora Pérez, when he was 16. Now he’s one of the few Salvadorans who are proficient in the language, and he is training the Nawat teachers at the Izalco school, as part of the Nawat Language Revitalisation project, promoted by Don Bosco University since 2004.

“Most people used to see Nawat as kind of embarrassing, because they saw it as an old people’s thing; but now people are beginning to accept it,” Cortez told IPS.

Cortez is developing a web site for the project, and a great deal of material describing the learning and teaching process has already been put together. Also, a basic alphabet has been devised to begin writing in Nawat.

Rivas views all these efforts as positive, but fears that nothing will be achieved without firm support from the state aimed at fully including indigenous peoples “in a nation-building project.”

For Cortez, that’s precisely what the project he works in is about. It not only seeks to spread the language, but aims to promote indigenous culture in general.

“The emphasis is on seeing how ancestral cultures can survive despite the processes of transculturation,” he said.

The new generations may represent the greatest hope for reviving the language. As they leave the classroom, where they just finished singing the national anthem in Nawat, the schoolchildren call out their freshly learned word for goodbye: “Shawan tiuk!”

May 15, 2012 / ABC Translation Services


Outsourcing translations of marketing material is timely and cost effective.

The growth of global communications has created a rapid expansion of international marketing opportunities. The world marketplace continues to grow in direct proportion to the constant shrinkage of language and cultural barriers. Outsourcing your foreign language marketing related material has proven to be a cost effective and timely solution for thousands of corporations and organizations worldwide. Centralizing your language sources is the key to consistent marketing results.

Proper localization of marketing material is of the utmost importance for any international company and can make or break a product. Thorough understanding of the target audience is essential when delivering a message across cultures. Accurate translation and formatting of a company’s services and products are the first steps in any international marketing endeavor and professional native linguists are the primary building blocks in the process of successful international marking.

Having generally been an English dominated medium, the Internet is rapidly changing to an even mix of many languages, thus creating larger worldwide audiences. In the final analysis, multilingual marketing material is perhaps the most cost effective method for bringing in new customers.

A client needed marketing material translated for a major trade show. With only three days notice, ABC Translations ( language experts translated, formatted and delivered 100% culturally correct documents on time. The show was an overwhelming success based on the accuracy and timeliness of our work.

Interpretation, translation, and transcription specialists offering professional, worldwide multi-language services to every industry.
May 15, 2012 / ABC Translation Services

Translations for the Medical Device Industry

Specialized Translations for the Medical Device Industry

ABC Translations ( is a worldwide leader in the translations of Medical Device manufacturing documents.

The Medical Device industry has achieved substantial worldwide growth both in overall sales and in advancements in new and vital product development. As companies continue to aggressively develop innovative biotechnology products for their worldwide audience, the need for language solutions on a global scale will continue to increase at an ever increasing rate.

Medical Device companies are targeting major world markets particularly in the key languages of Spanish, French, Portuguese, German, Russian, Japanese, and Chinese to name the major ones. Very few translation firms have been able to keep pace and stay ahead of the curve with the rapidly growing Medical Device industry and the corresponding language compliance and regulatory laws.

Experienced, Proven Specialized Medical Device Translators and Superior Processes are the Keys to Success

ABC maintains a rigorous linguist recruiting, screening and testing process that includes industry-specific testing of each translator, as well as an ongoing scoring system to ensure that our linguists consistently deliver the highest quality translations with industry-leading turnaround times. Each step of our quality control process is carefully documented to ensure that our translations will stand up to the scrutiny of any regulatory audit.

ABC also maintains a complete localization solutions staff to help Medical Device firms to globalize their products, as well as websites or any other electronic assets that may require localization for foreign markets, or even for non-English speaking markets in the United States. In addition to maintaining the industry benchmark for localization, ABC Translations understands the unique requirements of the variety of countries hold and is committed to providing services that meet the regulatory needs of our clients in the Medical Device field.

For additional information contact us at:

May 15, 2012 / ABC Translation Services

ABC Translation Services Blog


For over 20 years, ABC Translations ( has been a preeminent provider of interpreting and translation services for the legal industry.

Over many years we have developed an excellent reputation for the quality of our interpreters and well as our unsurpassed client services.

ABC works with a who’s who of prominent law firms and in-house legal departments around the country and in the international arena. We have effectively completed thousands of legal assignments in the United States and around the world.

Legal assignments range from the international, federal, state, and local courts for trials, depositions, arbitrations, mediations, litigation matters, settlement conferences and client meetings.

For over 25 years, ABC Translations has provided legal translators and interpreters in every major market and most other markets in the United States as well as around the world.

ABC interpreters are experienced, knowledgeable and highly effective in a legal…

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May 15, 2012 / ABC Translation Services



For over 20 years, ABC Translations ( has been a preeminent provider of interpreting and translation services for the legal industry.

Over many years we have developed an excellent reputation for the quality of our interpreters and well as our unsurpassed client services.

ABC works with a who’s who of prominent law firms and in-house legal departments around the country and in the international arena. We have effectively completed thousands of legal assignments in the United States and around the world.

Legal assignments range from the international, federal, state, and local courts for trials, depositions, arbitrations, mediations, litigation matters, settlement conferences and client meetings.

For over 25 years, ABC Translations has provided legal translators and interpreters in every major market and most other markets in the United States as well as around the world.

ABC interpreters are experienced, knowledgeable and highly effective in a legal environment. Our interpreters speak over 240 languages, and are highly accomplished in both simultaneous and consecutive interpreting.

Our depth of local talented certified, qualified and experienced interpreters is crucial in reducing our costs by eliminating expensive travel, hotel and other logistic arrangements. ABC interpreters are a talented group, consisting of credentialed professionals who are experienced in all types of legal settings.

We have a vast resource base of legal interpreters located around the county and a skilled and friendly staff to help you promptly and cost effectively fulfill your request. Please contact us for a quote or to place an order today.

Our interpreters specialize in…

  • Depositions
  • Arbitrations
  • Trials
  • Hearings
  • Examinations Under Oath
  • Medical Exams (A.M.E., I.M.E., Q.M.E., and Psychologicals

For more information, please visit our website at:

  • Insurance Statements
  • Phone Conferencing
  • Parent/Teacher Conferences at Schools
  • Business Meetings
  • Focus Groups
  • and more
May 15, 2012 / ABC Translation Services

Technical/Manufacturing Translations

It takes dedication, skill, and industry know–how to accurately translate and localize projects that range from short instruction booklets, to full instruction manuals or a wide array of technical documents.

ABC Translations automotive translations experience in providing technical translation and localization services for both the industrial and automotive sectors extends to almost a decade of completed, high quality translation projects in these fields.

Order Technical Translations Today!

Contact ABC Translations with your translations needs and find out how cost-effectively ABC Translations can adapt all of your technical documentation, software and brochures.

Technical Translation Experience

For years industry leaders have come to rely on ABC Translations for industrial document translations, technical translations of manuals, guides and brochures used in international sales, support or training programs.

Many of the technical industry’s top players depend on ABC Translations to accurately localize their corporate images, messages and products for new cultures. Our greatest technical translation expertise lies in:

  • CMS, Product & user manuals
  • Technical drawings (design & manufacture)
  • Technical documentation (UI strings and software)
  • CE registration & EU directives
  • Corporate materials
  • E-learning

Don’t hesitate to test us out.

5 reasons why clients choose ABC Translations:

ABC Translations offers a comprehensive set of CAT tools that can help reduce your overall translation costs, or/and improve translation accuracy and consistency.

  1. Pre-selected and dedicated linguists for every client:
    Only qualified, tested and pre-selected professional technical translators are used, with specific subject-matter-expertise.
  2. Reduced time-to-market through a standardized approach:
    ABC Translations developed a Quality Assurance process augmented by our technology and tools that adjusts our workflow to offer you greater flexibility in handling your technical translation assignments.
  3. Technical expertise and quality:
    Over 20 years of technical translation expertise with projects completed for many of the world’s leading corporations. ABC Translations offers a comprehensive set of tools that can help reduce your overall translation costs, or/and improve translation accuracy and consistency.
  4. Complete linguistic support (DTP & Localization):
    ABC Translations has the capacity to handle large volume, short-deadline projects requiring localization and support and multimedia. When submitting your project to us, we will assign a dedicated team that will consist of one or two Senior Localization Engineers, along with additional backup engineers to handle any pre/post processing work.
  5. Timeliness and real-time communication:
    Knowing how important your deadlines are, ABC always delivers on time. What is more, we maintain a continual two way, real-time communication with you to ensure that all your requests, adjustments and changes are applied immediately.

Order Technical translations with confidence
Just as our other clients, you too can trust ABC to deliver your technical translation project with perfect quality, maximum accuracy and always on time.

Order your FREE technical translation quote today!


If you are searching for an experienced translation company to complete your next technical translation project, contact us for a free translation quote today!

May 15, 2012 / ABC Translation Services

Marketing Translations Gone Wrong

With advances in technology and social media, Word of Mouth has truly gone to World of Mouth.  Many companies centralize their global Facebook and Twitter efforts.  This has huge advantages, but it’s also imperative to have involvement at the local level; from people who truly understand the market nuances and language. We live in a global economy and so it’s imperative that we understand our world. Below are thirteen (an unlucky number in some countries) examples of marketing translations gone wrong:

1.    The wildly successful “Got Milk” campaign from The Dairy Association when used in Mexico brought a lot of attention also: “Are You Lactating?”

2.    Coors Brewing slogan “Turn it loose” when converted to Spanish means “Suffer from diarrhea”

3.    Clairol launched a curling iron called “Mist Stick” in Germany.  Mist in German is slang for manure. It turns out manure sticks aren’t very popular in Germany.

4.    Matsushita and Panasonic were to launch a computer with an Internet browser in Japan.  They were going to run a large marketing campaign using the cartoon character Woody Woodpecker.  The campaign was put on hold when an American employee realized the translation was “Touch Woody – The Internet Pecker.” This is very bad in American slang.

5.    Gerber kept the image of its smiley baby on their jars and packages when they entered the African market.  Only later did they realize, as a result of the low African literacy rate, many companies in Africa used pictures on labels to denote what’s inside.

6.    Pepsi in China translated their slogan, “Pepsi Brings You Back to Life.” The slogan in Chinese literally means, “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Grave.”

7.    Colgate launched toothpaste in France under the brand name Cue… unfortunately that is the same name as an ill-famed pornographic magazine.

8.    Parker Pen in Mexico wanted its advertisements to parlay “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you.” Instead, the company thought that the word “embarazar” (to impregnate) meant to embarrass, so the ad read: “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant.”

9.    Frank Perdue’s line, “It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken,” is a bit different in Spanish — “It takes a sexually stimulated man to make a chicken affectionate.”

10. Latte means Milk in Italy.  In English Latte is a coffee-drink and it’s popularity increased with the growth of Starbucks.  However if you are in Germany you may be careful what you order with your breakfast. A “morning latte” in German slang is when you wake up in the morning with an erection.

11.  Braniff International Airways wanted to highlight “Fly in Leather” but instead in Spanish came out as “Fly Naked.”

12.  Electrolux, a Scandinavian vacuum cleaner, used the following in the U.S.: “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.”

13.  Pepsi lost market share in Southeast Asia when it change its vending machines from deep blue to light blue.  Light blue is a symbol of death and mourning in Southeast Asia.

For more information on translation services, legal translations in washington dc, and language translations in washington dc, please visit our website at:

April 14, 2012 / ABC Translation Services

Top 10 Global Translation Errors

While some of these flubs are rather humorous, errors in translation can also be embarrassing and costly for your business… Translation errors are the cause of the greatest number of blunders in international business.

Number 10: KFC experienced real problems when the phrase “finger lickin’ good” came out in Chinese as “eat your fingers off.”

Now the next one is familiar to me, in fact I’d call it an oldie but goodie.

Number 9: General Motors’ Chevrolet Nova vehicle translated in Spanish in Central and South America as: “No va”, “It Doesn’t Go”;

This next one gives a whole new meaning to their familiar slogan.

Number 8: The Dairy Association’s huge success with the campaign “Got Milk?” in Mexico translated to: “Are You Lactating?”

I suppose that entry No. 7 might also be interpreted as “fly in your birthday suit”.

Number 7: Braniff Airlines launched a new leather first class seats ad campaign in the Mexican market: “Fly in Leather” meant “Fly Naked” (vuela en cuero);

When I read No. 6 the first thing that popped into my mind is Michael Jackson’s Thriller video. Get it?

Number 6: Pepsi’s “Come Alive with the Pepsi Generation” slogan translated in Chinese: “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Grave”;

No. 5 makes you think there might be something in the water used to make the beer.

Number 5: Colorado brewing company, Coors’ “Turn It Loose” slogan translated in Spanish: “Suffer from Diarrhea”;

Entry number 4 just leaves me scratching my head…

Number 4: Parker Pen’s slogan “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you” translated in Mexico: “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant”;

Ok, with No. 3 I’m starting to believe there’s a translation error plot against the Spanish language…

Number 3: Frank Perdue’s famous chicken slogan, “It takes a strong man to make a tender chicken”

translated in Spanish; “it takes an aroused man to make a chicken affectionate;

No. 2 makes me think that all things considered, the Chinese must really love their Coke.

Number 2: The Coca-Cola name in China was first read as “Kekoukela”, meaning “Bite the Wax Tadpole” or “Female Horse Stuffed with Wax”, depending on the dialect. Coke then researched 40,000 characters to find a phonetic equivalent “kokoukole”, translating into “Happiness in the Mouth.”

And the number one translation error made by a major company is regrettably not very funny at all.

Number 1: Mead Johnson Nutritionals had to recall two baby food products because the instructions on how to prepare the products had been incorrectly translated from English to Spanish. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reported that if both products were prepared according to the incorrect Spanish translation they could have caused seizures, irregular heartbeat, renal failure and even death.

All of these marketing mishaps are examples of how even the smallest translation error can greatly affect the intended marketing message and the consumer’s reaction to that message. The hiring of a translation company that offers professional translation services could have saved these big companies a lot of money, time and resources.

Now that’s what I call prudent advice.

April 14, 2012 / ABC Translation Services

Wales gets new Language Chief

Wales has become the first part of the UK to get its own official language tsar: this April native born Welshwoman Meri Huws started her job as the first ever Welsh Language Commissioner and said she would rule the Welsh linguistic expanse with all the vigor and determination she is capable of.

Educated in the University of Wales and Oxford University she was Chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (which means the Welsh Language Society) and, until becoming commissioner, also Chair of the now defunct Welsh Language Board, which is known accordingly as Bwrdd yr Iaith Gymraeg.

The Welsh National Assembly last year introduced the post of commissioner in the Welsh Language (Wales) 2011 Measure. It is the  first piece of law relating to the language passed in Wales since the Act of Union with Britain in 1536. It proclaimed Welsh to be the official language of Wales. 


Paradoxically even English is not statutorily defined as the official language of the United Kingdom. It is, one might say, simply the historically dominant tongue of the kingdom.


The Commission started to work on the standards of Welsh usage by the local government, public sector bodies, businesses that receive public money, utility and energy companies. Ultimately, it is expected that the commissioner will be able to fine bodies that fail to provide an adequate Welsh language service up to £5,000. One of the purposes of the commission is to boost knowledge of Welsh.


Until the mid-1800s, more than 80% of people in Wales could speak Welsh. Incidentally, the true Welsh do not speak Welsh, which is an exonim and in Proto-German means “foreign speech” or “Celtic-speaker”. The native term for the language is Cymrae and Camru for “Wales.” Welsh is a member of the Brythonic branch of the Celtic languages, which belong to the Indo-European family.

Now, according to the Welsh government, there are 580,000 people in Wales who can speak the language, around a fifth of the population of about 3 mln. There is a net loss of 2,000-3,000 fluent Welsh speakers every year as a result of outmigration, death, etc.


Wales does not even have its own daily Welsh newspaper. The only language newspaper is Y Cymro (“The Welshman”) and is published once a week. BBC started broadcasting in Welsh only in 1977 and the first Welsh language television channel S4C was launched only in 1982. And all of that, as any true Camru patriot will tell you, is quite an illustration of political, economic and cultural subjugation, which is Wales subjected by imperial British masters.


Other parts of the UK,  namely Scotland and Northern Ireland are watching how Huws operates with a view to replicate her role. Some believe there could be an argument to establish commissioners in England as well to champion minority languages.


So far in the English speaking world similar positions were created only in two countries: Canada has language commissioners  to protect its bilingualism. In Ireland, a commissioner is reviewing how the country’s language laws are working on the ground.


Nationalist party Plaid Cymru hopes that the Welsh language renaissance will boost the argument and mood for Welsh independence. The anti-British camp is eagerly awaiting year 2014, when Scotland is set to vote on whether to remain part of the UK. Certainly, if Scotland makes the leap and leaves a rump United Kingdom of England, Wales and Northern Ireland – or “Little Britain” as it has recently become known — the case for separation would be strengthened. But “yes” in the Scottish referendum is not a foregone conclusion. Besides, in Wales support for independence has never exceeded 10%, and has little echo in the most developed, English-speaking south-east of the country – Wales’s most populous region.


Welsh is not the only European minority language that has been suppressed for decades (for whatever reasons) by its bigger linguistic brothers. The former Spanish dictator Franco spent decades trying to stamp out the nation’s regional languages, but today Catalan is stronger than ever and Basque is also popular. The latter, by the way, is the only language in Europe that does not belong to any major world language family. It is an entity of its own.


For centuries, different French governments have striven to make that country linguistically uniform, but (even disregarding Breton, a Celtic language; Allemannisch, the Germanic language spoken in Alsace; and Basque) at least ten distinct Romance languages are still spoken in France, including Picard, Gascon, Provençal, and several others in addition to “French.”


The exact number of languages actually spoken in Europe is hard to define, because it all depends on the criteria one uses. The best known languages in Europe are those of the Indo-European family — the largest language family in the world to which English belongs.


According to UNESCO (The United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), Europe speaks 230 languages. And the world’s most widely spoken languages by number of native speakers and as a second language are: Mandarin Chinese, English, Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, Bengali, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese, German and French.


But the Texas-based Summer Institute of Linguistics or SIL International, which publishes Ethnologue  – the most extensive catalog of the world’s languages — says that as of 2009 there are 6,909 distinct languages in the world. And only 230 are spoken in Europe (23 are official languages of the European Union), while 2,197 are spoken in Asia. The area of highest linguistic diversity is Papua-New Guinea, where there are an estimated 832 languages spoken by a population of around 3.9 million. The SIL International has a keen interest in translating the Christian Bible into all of the world’s languages. By now it says, at least a portion of the Bible had been translated into 2,508 different languages – still a long way short of full coverage.


For more information, go to


April 10, 2012 / ABC Translation Services

Washington DC Translation Solutions

Washington DC keeps a constant, and vital, connection with the rest of the world. As the capital city of one of the world’s leading nations, Washington DC’s every aspect has international influence. With so many foreign visitors (both official and non-official) and so much communication with international organizations, Washington DC relies heavily on excellent translation and interpretation services.
To meet the demanding, fast pace of DC’s business and politics, you need a translation solution that works fast and works well. ABC Translations is that solution. Here’s why:

  • We work with over 3,000 translators from all areas of expertise
  • We translate and interpret over 150 of the world’s most spoken languages
  • Our advanced system let’s us assign projects moments after we receive them
  • We complete emergency translation projects as quickly as within one business day
  • Our client care department never closes – you can call us anytime
  • We handle multi-language projects smoothly thanks to a fantastic project management system
  • Every project passes through our strict quality assurance department
  • Complex documents pose no problem for us – we’re experts in virtually every field

Get a quote online or call us right now to discuss your translation and interpretation needs. A translation specialist will advise you of the best way to get your language needs met on time, under budget, and with extreme accuracy.

For more information on our translations in Washington DC, please visit our website at

Washington’s DC Best Translations

We are able to proudly offer Washington’s DC best translation services because we have built our business on the three most stable foundations of success in translation: Speed, Accuracy, and Price. There is nobody faster than us (Emergency and Rush translation – open 24 hours); there is nobody more accurate (Expert translators and Relentless Quality Control); and we have the best price.
We owe our ability to perform at the top to our people – by far the best people in the business.

Washington DC Translators

There is no question about the incredible ability of our translators. Their skills and subject knowledge make it possible for us to do so much for so many. And to do it BETTER than others can. We work with a lot of different translators – but we have been extremely selective while building our team. We hire only the best in the field – and we make sure we always have the perfect translator for every project.

Our Customer Service Staff

Our customer service staff and our Washington DC translation managers are always ready to meet you – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We work YOUR HOURS no matter what hours you keep. Our great customer service, offered around the clock, sets us far apart from every other translation agency out there. They provide excellent translation solutions in emergency and overnight rush situations. We guarantee you’ll be satisfied.

For more information, send an email to

February 10, 2012 / ABC Translation Services

The Critical Nature of Medical Translations

The specialized translations in the field of medicine, pharmacy, and clinical studies, often contain information that can literally mean the difference between life and death. Absolute precision is necessary, both in terminology (which can be vastly different from language to language), but also in dosages, medical interpretations, case reviews, patient instructions and health reports.

Medical and Pharmaceutical translation is a highly specialized discipline and should only ever be carried out by suitably qualified translators. These specialist translators are usually doctors or biomedical engineers, have experience in a particular medical field and have language degrees.

Furthermore, it is often necessary to create a specialized glossary, which standardizes the nomenclature used by all parties involved. In the absence of an approved terminology glossary, the translators and users may have differing opinions on what “correct” translations of key terminology are.

Sometimes it is necessary to translate medical device software. Instruction manuals in local languages allow the users to learn their operation faster and use them more efficiently. These manuals and on-screen tutorials need to be accurate, using locally-approved language and terminology.

Adequate knowledge of specialist terminology is essential in translating medical texts. Direct dictionary translations may not fit the proper style of the target language. That’s why it’s very important that a text is translated by a linguist, who is thoroughly familiar with the medical industry in the selected language,  is thoroughly familiar with the culture of the selected language, and knows which words to use, so that they are appropriate in the cultural and medical contexts.

Knowing a foreign language alone is simply not enough. The plain truth of translation is that a text must be understood before it can be translated. We are all confident of our knowledge of English, aren’t we? Let us take a small self-test by considering two short sentences sourced from a medical text:

“Tympanites and atony of the gastro-intestinal tract are often the first indications of parenteral nutrition, necessitated due to faulty utilisation of oral feeds.

Distention of the congested intestinal layers is possibly a contributory cause of blocked anastamosis or its dehiscence.”

Honestly, how much of that did you understand? How easy was it to read? You can speak English well, but understanding a medical text is a very different matter.

You can now see how a translator without a scientific or medical background would feel when faced with this text. Translators translate from a foreign language into her mother tongue. In other words, a translator should ideally be a native speaker of the language she is translating into. Somebody may possess excellent bi-lingual skills, but hiring him as a translator is a sure-fire recipe for disaster in translation, unless she is also an expert in her field.

Medical and scientific writing has its own turn of phrase. In medical texts written in German, for example, “Anamnese” is a commonly used word. Dictionaries give anamnesis as the English equivalent – and a translator who relies solely on dictionaries is looking for trouble. Why? Well, medical practitioners the world over never use the expression “anamnesis”. They just call it “case history of a patient”.

By the same token, hiring a translator with specialized subject skills to the exclusion of language skills is no less prone to pitfalls. For instance, a subject expert may spend many a sleepless night over the English equivalent of “Patientengut,” a German word best translated as “patient records.”

Style, we all know, is the way in which something is said, done, expressed, or performed. Have we ever observed that scientific-technical writing has its own style? To illustrate the point, let us take a concrete example. Faithful to the style of the source language, a translation would read:

“Owing to improvements in medical first-aid and rescue services, a steadily increasing number of severely injured accident victims reach clinics in a condition in which intensive therapy may be started.”

After correction for style by a qualified subject and language expert, the same sentence would read:

“Advancements in medical first-aid and rescue services have made it possible to immediately administer intensive care to an increasing number of severe cases of accident victims who are brought to hospitals.”

Some of the types of medical documents that regularly require translation include:

Test results
Patients’ hospital records
Clinical test protocols
Medicine leaflets
Medical articles
Autopsy reports
Electro diagnosis

As you can see, the importance of getting the translation correct the first time, is vital.

For more information on Medical and Pharmaceutical translations, please feel free to visit:

Translations Washington DC

February 9, 2012 / ABC Translation Services

Website Translations

Website Localization strategies

To reach new customers in new markets, you need to reach them in their language. Going global by using the internet can really help your business succeed. By having your website, product descriptions, trends and other important data translated and available in the target languages you will have a global strategy that works. Though many people across the world can read and understand English, there are many intricate details that can be misunderstood due to cultural differences. People are more inclined to buy your products or services if the information is presented in their native language.

According to the World Bank it is estimated that the largest economies combined make up nearly 70% of the world’s economy. These countries have the highest numbers of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) that total almost $33 trillion dollars. Topping the list are The United States, Japan, Germany, China, UK, France, Italy, Canada, Spain and Brazil.

Website localization is a global business strategy that will help you to make your site truly international and to reach millions of new customers in the global marketplace. Our professional translation service can translate your documents and text, so that your completely localized website content will be just as effective as your original version.

In addition to website localization and translation services we can also make your site available in local searches through our Multi-language SEO Service. We can even help you conduct the necessary research that will help you decide what countries and languages may best suit your needs.

Make your business grow with our professional translation services, site localization, and SEO (search engine optimization).

Partial or complete website translation

More and more companies are realizing the benefits of translating their web sites, partially or totally. We recommend that you have your entire site translated; however, you may choose to translate only key pages where you emphasize your international products and services. Translation of core pages may be an optional solution suitable for your specific business needs.

Compatible file types

Websites include numerous documents in various file types. For your convenience, we can easily translate the text from the source files.

We entrust your website translation only to the most competent native speaking translators in your specific field, who have extensive marketing expertise. We guarantee that all of your essential meanings will be preserved.

How We Work:

Planning & Research

Multilingual Market Research

We deep dive into your business, your competitors and the marketplace in your local country to give you valuable insight that can be used to identify your competitive edge.

Multilingual SEO Research

Before making recommendations on keywords, page structure, content and Meta Tag creation, we make sure we understand your business and your market thoroughly.

Multilingual Keyword Analysis

Your search marketing success depends on optimizing the most effective and relevant keywords. First we look at what is and is not currently working toward achieving your objectives, and then we make recommendations on the best organization and structure moving forward.

Multilingual Search Query Analysis & Expansion

We analyze the words your customers are using to convert on your site and then find additional relevant words. Our custom tools will find words in the target language even if they don’t exist in the source file.


Website localization

We don’t just translate your site word for word; we ensure that your messages are communicated just the way you intended while respecting SEO requirements, across every language.

Multilingual Link Building

It’s not only our team that sets us apart; we also have the support of link building management systems that ensure efficient and successful link building campaigns. This allows us to run U.S., European and international campaigns other agencies would struggle to deliver. Our Services include:

  • Blogger outreach and paid link building
  • Guest blogging
  • Link baiting
  • Directory and article submissions

Media localization

All media channels have their own rules, sizes and optimization processes. These also differ by country. We understand them all and deliver a campaign that works in any channel, in any country.


Multilingual copywriting requires a high level of creativity, malleability and accuracy in order to create effective copy that sounds natural to the local market. Our copywriters also specialize in producing original copy when there is no source file.

Proofreading & Editing

All work goes through a triple layer of QA so it is right first time with no need for additional corrections.

Search Engine Account Support

We understand how all the search engines operate and can provide end-to-end support to get your campaign live efficiently.

Consecutive Interpretation

Consecutive interpreters will listen to a speech while taking notes and then after a short pause reproduce the same speech in the target language. It can either be done face-to-face or over the telephone.

Simultaneous Interpretation

Interpreters will transfer the meaning from one language to another while simultaneously listening to the speaker. This type of interpretation sometimes requires additional equipment that we are happy to provide if required.


We perform site audits to identify issues surrounding keywords, creative pages and landing pages. Then we provide solutions to ensure they are performing at their best and achieving your goals.

For more information, visit

January 24, 2012 / ABC Translation Services

Top 20 Translated Phrases

  • 1.Yes
  • 2. No
  • 3. Hello
  • 4. Goodbye
  • 5. Peace
  • 6. What’s going on?
  • 7. I love you
  • 8. How are you?
  • 9. What is your phone number?
  • 10. Thank you
  • 11. You are welcome
  • 12. You are beautiful
  • 13. You are wonderful
  • 14. Can I get directions?
  • 15. Can I take you out?
  • 16. Where is the bathroom?
  • 17. Where is the nearest restaurant?
  • 18. Shall we dance?
  • 19. Can I buy you a drink?
  • 20. Where is a fun place to go?

French phrases in English

January 24, 2012 / ABC Translation Services


ABC Translation Services ( has a long history of providing our multifaceted services to the financial industry. As the business world continues to globalize and we increasingly become a world economy, interpretation and translation work is becoming an ever present vital factor within the international business community. Our language experts are highly skilled in dealing with the many specific nuances that dot the sophisticated financial arena.

Interpreting for the Financial industry

Our interpreting services cover the financial sector in numerous ways. ABC interpreters have years of experience in highly complex presentations to investors, clients, boards of directors and employees. Our expert linguists have presented to groups large and small in locations around the world. ABC offers local interpreting services in every language across the nation and the world, and has the resources to execute “on the spot” coverage for your immediate and future needs.

Financial Translations

Our translators and editors convert and format financial information and data to and from every written language. Complete accuracy is of paramount importance in the financial arena and ABC has long been a master at providing accurate, timely and cost effective work for corporations, financial institutions accounting firms and individuals. Translating financial information and documentation into foreign languages can be extremely complex due to growth and shrinkage of text between various languages. ABC translation experts are fully cognizant of all the various nuances that exist in language conversion. Our desk top publishing department formats financial information in a multitude of soft wear programs and can organize your financial translations in complete accordance with you objectives.

Serving the Financial Sector

Accuracy and timeliness are the key ingredients in financial language conversion and the staff at ABC is acutely aware of the specific needs that are required. Financial institutions and corporation have found that outsourcing language needs to professionals is cost and time effective. ABC has the full range of language services to ensure the quality of our work and to meet our client’s goals.
For more information or a free quote, visit

January 24, 2012 / ABC Translation Services


The advertising industry has been a mainstay of ABC Translations ( for more than 20 years. In both interpreting and translating, our full array of services has been an integral part of product awareness in today’s world of instantaneous global communications. Culturally correct information is paramount in the advertising industry and having the proper language professionals is a fundamental element for meeting your advertising goals.

Interpreting for the Advertising Industry

From product development and research through product presentation, our interpreters have worked in a variety of advertising settings that include conferences, meetings, presentations, photo shoots, television spots and voiceovers. ABC interpreters have executed wide varieties of public service announcements and campaigns involving hundreds of products and concepts. ABC offers local interpreting services in every language across the nation and world and has the resources to execute “on the spot” coverage for your immediate and future needs.

Translations for the Advertising Industry

ABC translators and editors localize a wide variety of advertising material and do so in every conceivable format and program. Our vast staff of native linguists ensures that all material is properly localized and formatted according to the target audience. Our translation services cover general ads, announcements, long-term product campaigns, product introductions, web sites, catalogues and all forms of marketing material. Our desktop publishing department formats advertising material in a multitude of software programs and can organize your translations in complete accordance with you objectives.

Language Solutions for Advertising Challenges

ABC has native speaking experts who are familiar with all of the relevant components that comprise the advertising industry. Our staff is highly experienced at working within the exacting parameters of the advertising industry and many firms have discovered that outsourcing language needs to professionals is cost and time effective. ABC professionals can help you quote projects and turn assignments with lightning quick speed and 100% accuracy.

For more information, please visit

January 24, 2012 / ABC Translation Services

Automotive Translations

Automotive Translations

If you want to track trends in global marketing, manufacturing and design, take a look at the efforts of the world’s top automotive companies. Since transportation is in constant demand, auto industry leaders are always looking for new ways to improve efficiency in manufacturing and marketing. One way the automotive industry has adapted to the speed and urgency of modern global economies is by using translations.

When the big auto makers look for ways to internationalize their websites and create localized advertising materials, they turn to the best in the business for automotive translations, ABC Translation Services. At ABC, we hire native speaking translators to ensure your materials are translated with tone, content, and cultural nuances in mind. Since automotive materials are highly technical, we provide you with specialized translators for all your projects.


The Best Automotive Translations

At ABC, we specialize in translating everything from parts catalogs and ISO manuals, to customer surveys and owner’s handbooks. Customer feedback is invaluable, and we strive to provide each of our clients with accurate translations with a feel for tone and attitude toward their products. Technical documents are checked and rechecked for accuracy to ensure they meet the highest possible standards before they are published.

Compliance is an essential component to success in international markets. In order to earn your place in the global automotive marketplace, you need to consistently provide translations of important information. Our customers stay one step ahead of the competition thanks to our attention to detail, fast turnaround times, and highly skilled team of translators.

For more information, visit

January 24, 2012 / ABC Translation Services

Bridging The Communication Gap

Bridging The Communication Gap and Connecting You To The World

Interpreting, Translating & Transcription Services for Today’s US & Worldwide Markets

For over a quarter of a Century, ABC Translation Services ( has been a premier provider of languages services. We provide top quality services for a significant number of Major Corporations, Law Firms and Governmental Agencies.

We work around the world in all languages for written translations, transcriptions and verbal interpreting. We have thousands of highly qualified language experts on call 24 hours, 7 days a week.

We have developed a proprietary data base with over 10,000 native speaking linguists located locally in nearly every US city and hundreds of cities worldwide on every continent. We are able to access our linguists by an advanced search criteria. This allows us to search and select our linguists by numerous relevant criteria including: language, geographic area, number of years of experience, certifications, qualifications, specific industry experience, software usage and technical capabilities, among others.

We have built an outstanding reputation for providing timely and cost effective translation, transcription and interpreting services. ABC Translations bridges the communication gap between unique languages and distinct cultures by paying meticulous attention to the details.

Successful Communication Requires More Than Written Translations and Verbal Interpretations

Whether it is in written form through the translation process or through verbal interpreting, ABC pays particular attention to the subtle differences in language and culture that are critical in conveying your message to your target audience. In many cases, a simple verbatim translation is not enough. Communicating effectively requires projecting the intent of the message, addressing cultural awareness of your audience, as well as understanding specific nuances in various language combinations. ABC provides effective language solutions needed to make a positive impact on your target audience.

What are your communication goals?

Every company has specific objectives in mind. Do you want to improve bottom line profitability: cut costs, speed up product launches to new markets, improve communications to key foreign speaking trading partners, motivate your sales and distribution teams, improve past communication challenges, or change the message you want to convey?

Our goal is to ensure that your goals are met. We will work with you in the time frame you require to achieve the success you desire.

January 24, 2012 / ABC Translation Services

Challenges with Translations for International Media Companies

Challenges with Translations for International Media Companies.

January 23, 2012 / ABC Translation Services

Welcome to ABC

More than 6000 tested and certified translators and degree-holding linguists are at your service when you have your documents, collateral materials, and applications translated by the team at ABC.

Document translation iconDocument Translation

By certified translation teams

Professional document translators are available in over 100 languages. Native translators are chosen for their linguistic and subject matter expertise

Website localization iconWebsite Globalization

By experienced linguists, consultants, and engineers

Website localization includes the translation of the text on your website AND all of the elements that are culturally dependent. Our experiences localization engineers will work with you to recreate your website so that a linguistically and culturally correct version is available to your new audience.

Personal document translation iconForeign Documents and Credentials

Do you need foreign credential evaluation and translation for freshman or graduate admissions, immigration, or for employment purposes? ABC can provide certified translations of diplomas, certificates, degrees, and educational training.
Related: Certified Birth Certificate Translation Services



ABC Translations: Reliability,

Innovation and Technology

ABC Translations is an industry leader in translation and globalization services. We adapt documents, collateral materials, websites, and software to meet the linguistic, cultural, and technical requirements and preferences of our clients.

Receive language services delivered with precision

We recognize that truly great services differentiate us. Our clients expect high quality translation and globalization services that are delivered quickly and cost-effectively. We meet those challenges with enthusiasm and an eye towards developing and maintaining long-term client relationships. Our clients come back to us again and again in part because we make life easier: we offer services that are easy to understand and use, we find the most efficient and money-saving project solutions, and we deliver insuperable translations and globalized products.

Meet your Global Challenges with an experienced partner

ABC Translations can help you reach your most challenging translation and globalization goals. Our on-the-ball project managers, support staff, certified linguists, publishers, web localization engineers, and software programmers are at your fingertips when you entrust your project to us. Your ABC Translations team will deliver the best translation and globalization services in terms of speed, cost, flexibility, technical performance, and linguistic precision and accuracy. Every team member is dedicated to your global goals: to broaden your customer base, strengthen your brand position and customer loyalty, and increase your revenues worldwide.

Acquire the best return on your translation and globalization investment

We find the best return for your translation or globalization investment. We study your position within your industry and craft an intelligent, focused, efficient, and sustainable approach that will allow you to grow in your industry, within other cultures, and in other languages.

Contact us. It would be an absolute pleasure to include you in the ABC family of clients and partners.

Some of our industries served include:


Communicate with partners and customers worldwide.



Provide legally-binding documents in any language.



Translate your medical & pharmaceutical materials.



Use zero-defect translations of your technical documents.

January 23, 2012 / ABC Translation Services

Spanish Language Translations

English to Spanish Translations

Whatever your English to Spanish translations or Spanish to English translation needs – from a one page letter, to a complete set of company manuals has the best blend of resources to get the job done. No other translation company can provide you with the depth of expertise, range of resources and overall proven experience in Spanish translations. Free Spanish Translations that are accurate don’t exist.

Spanish Translation

Translating English to Spanish is what we do, this is what we specialize in, Why take your translation to a firm that does not specialize in this? Save time, money and headaches by bringing your translations to us. Call us today for a quote at 800-284-2468 or get an instant quote for Spanish translations.

English Translator

Our translators are fully bilingual. They possess exceptional memory, listening and concentration skills, and are able to accurately and clearly convey both the meaning and tone of the original statement. We have a wide network of professional Translators Interpreters with expertise in a variety of fields, all available to work with you to address your needs. Click here for more info on English translators or email us your request at

January 23, 2012 / ABC Translation Services

Trusted Translations for the Pharmceutical Industry

Pharmaceutical Translation Service

Our pharmaceutical translation services are completed by translators with recognized expertise in different academic fields and the health industries in many different countries.

The pharmaceutical industry has been submitting more and more approvals for new drugs in Japan and China than ever before. This is all part of the increasing globalization trend that is revolutionizing the reach and distribution of pharmaceutical companies. This globalization is accompanied by a huge surge in the demand for high quality pharmaceutical and technical and medical translations. Technical translations are required for medical equipment manufacturing and user guides, and the increasing use of agricultural chemicals has ushered in a new era in which medical scientific pharmaceutical studies are being published in many languages.

The translators needed for such highly complex work must come from every corner of the globe, but the requirements remain the same: each pharmaceutical translator must possess the requisite linguistic and subject matter expertise to responsibly translate for pharmaceutical, medical, chemistry, biology and life science documents.

Our pharmaceutical translation system is one of the most sophisticated yet reliable ever devised for the translation industry. Besides using translation tools like TRADOS, we have developed an international gateway for the seamless communication of translators, editors, proofreaders, and project coordinators. We successfully leverage the advantages of computer technology, the Internet, and human skill to produce pharmaceutical translations that are among the best available. Futhermore, you can rest assured that your documents are carefully protected behind fire-walled databases. We adhere to the most stringent privacy policies.

Common materials we translate for the pharmaceutical industry include: Medical science studies • Scientific abstracts • Human treatment manuals • Toxicity assessments • FDA Applications • Summaries of electronic application • Drug catalogs • Clinical evaluations • Reports on ingredients • Written drug manufacturing approval documentation • Medical equipment documentation for manufacturing approval, manuals, and catalogs • Legal applications for agricultural chemicals • Veterinary science studies and applications.

Receive your free quote for technical translation or interpreting services today

January 21, 2012 / ABC Translation Services

Marketing, Media and Advertising Translations

The translation of media content, literature and marketing requires talents and skills that are almost opposite to those required for technical, legal, medical, or scientific translations, in which conceptual exactness and terminological precision are key.

The objective of literary text and marketing copy is to emphasize various aspects of human thought. These types of translations use symbolism, puns and metaphors that target the human emotions rather than trying to convey specific information. In order to convey the same intent as the original text, companies need to use specialized translators experienced in literary translations. The goal is to convey the exact same emotions and values of the original author while maintaining the integrity of the work. This talent requires translators who do not just “know” another language, but who are great literary writers themselves.

Literary Translation

A good literary or marketing translation involves having a feel for the context of the text and being able to match the author’s original intent.

Our translators are trained to understand the literary or marketing context of the text in order to ensure that the translation not only contains what you want, but also how you want to convey your message.

If you have a book to be translated, there are a few solutions for meticulous literary translation.

Media Translations

From press releases and news articles to multimedia specs and digital content, your translation agency needs to understand the media industry. They must have extensive experience working with top media organizations and understand the need for fast and accurate media translations.

A translation agency should have worked with multinational companies and daily newspapers,  and is organized to serve the particular needs of this industry. In particular, are organized to provide last minute changes and a quick turnaround on time-sensitive projects.

The following are some of the media related documents your translation agency should typically translate:

  • Books
  • Press Releases
  • Digital Content
  • Multimedia Presentations
  • Customer Letters and Invoice
  • Brochures and Other Marketing Materials
  • Full Press Kits
  • News Articles
  • TV and Radio Reports
  • Corporate Communications

Media Translator Teams

All media translators must have access to translation memories, dictionaries and media specific terms, ensuring that each translation is both accurate and consistent across even the largest projects.

All of your translators must be bound by a commercial confidentiality and corporate nondisclosure agreement, and take confidentiality and security issues very seriously. All translations remain confidential. The translators need to be sensitive to the nature of the underlying information of certain media communications.

Lastly, make sure your translation company can work with a variety of electronic file formats, and can accept all file types and deliver ready-to-publish files where required.

For more information, please visit

January 20, 2012 / ABC Translation Services

Solving the Machine Translation Problem

Solving the Machine Translation Problem.

January 20, 2012 / ABC Translation Services

Solving the Machine Translation Problem

In a recent article in Forbes Magazine, Contributing Author Tim Worstall wrote:

“This is an interesting way of solving the machine translation problem. The problem being of course that machines don’t actually ‘get’ language very well. Don’t appreciate the richness of meaning, understand the rather sly way in which what looks like almost exactly the same phrase can have a very different meaning indeed dependent upon context.

The solution is simply to not have machines doing the translation.”


It seems that the promise of computer or machine based translations has never quite met the expectations. 

In an article titled Computer Based Translation Systems and Tools, author John Hutchins stated: 

“Machine translation (MT) is still better known for its failures than for its successes, and labours under misconceptions and prejudices from the ALPAC report of more than thirty years ago. The idea of developing fully automatic general-purpose systems capable of near-human translation quality has been long abandoned. The aim of MT research and related activities is to produce aids and tools for professional and non-professional translators which exploit the potentials of computers to support human skills and intelligence.”

He continues by saying that current research is now taking place to develop computer systems that support human translations, rather than replace the human element.

At ABC Translations, we specialize in assigning a translator to every project that not only is skilled and professional, but is also a native to the region so that language nuances, cultural differences and preferences, and micro variations in meaning are all captured and never overlooked. 

We like to put it in these terms: You will never notice a great translation. It simply flows as if written originally in that language. Unfortunately, the world is filled with inferior translations – from both machine-based systems and humans, that are obvious due to their inappropriate use of language or the turn of a phrase that just doesn’t sound right.

 With a team of top notch native speaking professional translators, ABC Translations always provides translation services that are so smooth and carefully worded that they are indistinguishable from the original. 

For more information, please visit our website at:

December 13, 2011 / ABC Translation Services

Language Challenges for Import and Export Companies

For companies that import or export, it’s important to have foreign language speakers on staff – but they can’t cover all your bases.

Results of recent research are currently being used to bring home the stunning cost of poor foreign language skills to British businesses.

According to Cardiff University’s study “Costing Babel,” British companies lose out big (about 18.5 billion dollars) due to the workforce’s lack of language skills, as well as companies’ ignoring language as an element in export strategy.

“The Forum of Private Business is warning that poor foreign language skills cost British businesses £21 billion per year [about $18.5 billion] leaving them behind large companies which are increasingly investing in multilingual staff,” explains an article on the subject.

However, the article points out that having multilingual staff is just one element of a successful international strategy. In fact, 4 aspects of language management are linked with import and export success: “having a language strategy, appointing native speakers, recruiting staff with language skills and using professionally qualified translators or interpreters.”

In many cases, multilingual workers can function conversationally and professionally, but they don’t necessarily have the translation and interpreting skills necessary for certain situations.

And, of course, in an ever-growing import export world, it can be very difficult to have staff on-site to speak every language your company must work with.

That’s why even forward-thinking, language-oriented companies turn to professional language service providers for certain key tasks and projects.

December 13, 2011 / ABC Translation Services

Foreign Language and the Presidency

It may not be necessary for American presidents to speak a foreign language – but a surprising number of the early presidents did.

An entertaining blog post from the Foreign Policy magazine website suggests that foreign language ability isn’t really necessary for American presidents, even in today’s highly globalized context.

“George W. Bush’s relatively decent Spanish didn’t really win him many friends in Latin America, nor did Condoleezza Rice’s knowledge of Russian really seem to do much for the administration’s dealings with the Kremlin,” writes Joshua Keating in “Should the president be able to speak foreign languages?”

Keating’s musings led him to a fascinating Wikipedia entry on a subject that I have never given much thought to: multilingual presidents.

It is most interesting to note that relatively few modern presidents have spoken a foreign language; the most linguistically-oriented presidents were the early ones.

John Adams was proficient in ancient languages, and carried out translations in Latin and Greek. He also spoke fluent French.

Thomas Jefferson “claimed to” read and write Greek, Latin, Spanish, French and Italian – although John Quincy Adams “expressed scepticism, noting Jefferson’s tendency to tell ‘large stories.’”

At least ten 18th and 19th century presidents mastered Latin and Greek, showing the academic importance that those ancient languages held at the time. Five of them were French-speakers, but only one – Jefferson – spoke (at least supposedly) Spanish.

A chart at the end of the entry sums up the foreign language abilities of all the presidents – all the presidents who had any, that is – and clearly shows a much higher presence of language mastery among the pre-20th century chief executives.

December 13, 2011 / ABC Translation Services

Android and iPhone Application Translation Services

ABC Translations can provide quick and cost effective translations to localize your existing iPhone or Android into other languages. As the world becomes more united through technology, and applications are used throughout the world, it has become increasingly important to translate applications for foreign audiences. Through ABC Translations specialized processes, we are able to translate applications to enable developers to inexpensively reach an international audience.

Whether you are a large corporation or a small app developer, it is simple to utilize our professional application localization services. To begin the translation project all you need to do is to forward us the files with existing text strings that need to be translated. Common file types include Excel spreadsheets or XML files. Fill out a quote request and we’ll respond with all the information you need to move forward on this exciting and important opportunity to reach millions of additional users.

December 13, 2011 / ABC Translation Services

Software Localization Services and Translations

Software Localization Services

ABC Translations provides language technology solutions worldwide. Our company offers software localization for all major languages. The process of software localization is not simply translation from one language to another, but it accommodates software products to the various specific linguistic characteristics of a target language. Using a detailed process of localization, ABC Translations ensures that your software conveys the correct language of your customers in a manner that does not make it appear that it is merely a translation, but has the feel of an original.

Translation is the most critical path in software localization. For companies looking to do business in the global market, ABC Translations is prepared to provide software localization services and specialized and professional translations in over 100 languages. Having managed key customer accounts and technical localization of projects for over 20 years, ABC Translations has extensive experience in managing the delivery of customer-centered localization services and solutions.

ABC Translations streamlines all translation tasks, delivering your product fully localized and in the desired target language while keeping your deadline and meeting your budget. Focused on delivering localized software products, online information applications and traditional documentation, ABC Translations draws upon its extensive team of software localization experts and the most effective translation tools in order to fulfill a vast range of software localization needs.

Technologies and files types we support include:

  • C, C++, C#
  • VB, VB.Net
  • Delphi
  • Java, J#
  • Perl, Python
  • PHP
  • Flash
  • JavaScript, JScript
  • #, Ajax
  • C#, VB.NET
  • Perl, Python
  • PHP
  • ColdFusion
  • Content Management Systems
  • .rc
  • .jar
  • .exe, .asp, aspx
  • .cgi
  • .pl
  • .php
  • .html, .xml, .xhtml
  • .swf, .fla
  • .asp, .aspx
  • .jsp
  • .cgi
  • .pl
  • .php
  • .cfm

About Our Company

ABC Translations is one of the world’s leading expert translation companies, known for producing the most reliable translations in the Global Translation and Communications Industry. With our team of certified and specialized linguists, we deliver a valuable service to a wide range of monolingual and bilingual users, including businesses, government agencies, educational institutions, pharmaceutical and medical companies, non-profit agencies, import/export companies, lawyers and individuals. The core and founding philosophy of ABC Translations has always been to provide the highest quality translations, superb accuracy, and unsurpassed customer service.

Need a document translation? Get a free quote here.

Additional Services



Android and iPhone Application Translation Services



ABC Translations can provide quick and cost effective translations to localize your existing iPhone or Android into other languages. As the world becomes more united through technology, and applications are used throughout the world, it has become increasingly important to translate applications for foreign audiences. Through ABC Translations specialized processes, we are able to translate applications to enable developers to inexpensively reach an international audience.

Whether you are a large corporation or a small app developer, it is simple to utilize our professional application localization services. To begin the translation project all you need to do is to forward us the files with existing text strings that need to be translated. Common file types include Excel spreadsheets or XML files. Fill out a quote request and we’ll respond with all the information you need to move forward on this exciting and important opportunity to reach millions of additional users.


December 1, 2011 / ABC Translation Services

Washington DC Translation Services

Need A specialized Washington DC Translation Service? If you are in search of Washington D.C. translation services, you are in luck. ABC Translations is a trusted provider of quality translations, and has over 20-years experience serving all types of businesses, government agencies, non-profits, non-governmental agencies (NGOs) and patent attorneys.

Do you need specialized Washington D.C. translation service offerings? We have specialties in several areas that demand technical expertise and understand the nuances and terminology that your business demands for well translated documents or other media.

What media are you using? ABC Translations can handle hand written, typed, audio or video transcribing and translation needs. Are you looking for translation on paper or translation in a live interpreter scenario? Do you need multiple language knowledge as well as specific business knowledge? ABC Translations has the resources to properly manage complex projects that require multiple languages and specific expertise.

When you choose a company to handle your foreign language translation needs, you want guarantees and to have specific expectations. Beyond the pricing, you want to know what your lead time will be and how the finished product will be presented to you.

Looking for a Washington D.C. translation agency and other resources?

Should you buy a computerized translation software package instead and deal with it yourself? While this area is growing in terms of modernization and ability, many people find that using a computer program alone is ineffective and inaccurate as well. Human intervention is typically required and human intervention where knowledge of the subject matter is present is even more effective. Knowing how to speak, write and understand in two different languages is typically not enough. Business expertise and experience is frequently a major component.

If you regularly deal in transcribing, translation and interpreting activities in your line of business you need a company that can service all your needs. There are specialized companies who work in one area or ones that work in many. Some companies deal with various translation experts based on different needs but finding a one-stop solution can be very helpful for your business. Not only will you know that your needs can be met but the centralized billing and single point of contact option can make this worthwhile.

Choosing a translation service is an important decision. We invite you to contact us to find out more about our translation services in the Washington D.C. area.

November 17, 2011 / ABC Translation Services

Is Translation a Rewriting of an Original Text?

Is Translation a Rewriting of an Original Text?

This article raises some interesting points. While it is discussing translations of literature and not business, government, legal or scientific documents (the bulk of our translation business), it is an interesting facet of this other branch of translations.

Lefevere (1992a: xi) describes translation “a rewriting of an original text.” This paper will reevaluate Lefevere’s concept of translation through examining my chosen texts. In order to demonstrate how the translator of the example text transports the source text messages in the target language, some excerpts will be analyzed using a Systemic Functional Linguistics (systemic linguistics) approach which provides “a semantic account of the grammatical structures of the language” (White, 2001: 3).
Tomoko Inaba photoWardhaugh (1986) states that the structure of a given language determines the way in which the speakers of that language view the world. Different languages reflect different values and cultures; therefore, in an attempt to mediate different languages, values or cultures, translations “nearly always contain attempts to naturalize the different culture to make it conform more to what the reader of the translation is used to” (Lefevere, 1999: 237). As a result, translations are rarely equivalent to the original. Bassnett (1980) further argues that translated texts are so far removed from the original that they need to be considered as independent products of literature.
Within the target-oriented approach to translation, which views translation as a cultural product of the target system, Toury (1995) focuses on the translated texts, their processes, features and functions, isolating them from their context and ideology, thereby not fully addressing the quality in translation. While Lefevere (1992a) also follows the view on translation as a cultural product of the target system, he addresses ideology and power which initiate the act of translation in his analysis.
Rewritings or translations reflect the rewriters’/ translators’ efforts in adapting the text to function in a given society in a given way.

According to Lefevere (1992a: vii), translation is produced on the basis of an original text with the intention of adapting the original to a certain ideology or poetics of a different audience, and it is an activity performed under constraints of patronage, poetics and ideology initiated by the target systems, as such it is an act of rewriting of an original text to conform to certain purposes instituted by the receiving system. He also points out that of the different forms of adaptations that writers commonly engage in, including: translation, criticism, commentary, historiography and anthologies,translation is the most obviously recognizable type of rewriting that is influential in projecting and disseminating the image of original writers and their works beyond the boundaries of their culture of origin (Lefevere, 1992a: 9).

This paper will examine Lefevere’s concept of translation as a form of rewriting of an original text through an analysis of my chosen texts. The excerpts will be studied by using a Systemic Functional Linguistics (systemic linguistics) approach which provides “a semantic account of the grammatical structures of the language” (White, 2001: 3) to demonstrate how the translator of the example text transports the source text (ST) messages into the target text. Neubert and Shreve (in Lantaigne, 2001: 26) present the concept of communicative equivalence as encompassing the underlying value and ideology of the text. The communicative functions and meanings reflected in the structure and patterns of the ST and the TT will be examined for this purpose. By comparing the meanings and functions embedded in both texts, issues such as ideology and power embedded in the example text will be addressed. Furthermore, their influence on the target audience as well as on the projection of the original writer and his or her work will be discussed.

Example texts of my choice

The ST is an excerpt of a leader article which was originally published on 12 February, 2006 in The Japan Times, an English daily newspaper published in Japan. The TT is the Japanese translation of the ST published in The Japan Times Editorials which is also edited by The Japan Times. Both the ST and TT are compiled in The Japan Times Editorials. The Japan Times Editorials is targeted at Japanese audience who are learning the English language and its aim is to assist them develop their reading comprehension skills in English.
The ST which will be analyzed in this paper is an article about the unexpected pregnancy of the 39-year-old princess who is the sister-in-law of Masako Owada, the 43-year-old Crown Princess of Japan. The backdrop to this news is that the current constitution of the target society only allows the imperial family’s male members to succeed the throne; however, since the Crown Prince and Princess’ only child is a girl, the government tried to pass a new law to allow the family’s female members to succeed the throne. Just as this new law was about to be enacted, the news of Princess Kiko’s (the Crown Princess’ sister-in-law) unexpected pregnancy was announced and immediately halted the enactment of the new law.
The reasons for choosing the example texts


The primary purpose of the TT is to provide an accurate or equivalent translation for the learners of English as a foreign language to assist comprehension of the original English text and to improve their reading skills in English. If the TT is deemed accurate or equivalent to the original, one may presume that the communicative functions and meanings are also identical and equivalent, and that the translator would not incorporate his or her ideology or poetics to manipulate the text to function in the receiving culture or society differently from those imparted in the ST.
However, when each clause was compared from the ST to its TT by applying the systemic linguistic approach, a number of refractions were identified as a result of adaptation to the target culture or society while also reflecting a certain ideology and constraints. There are some traces or indications of the translator’s deliberate manipulation of the text so that the TT functions in the target culture and society in a certain way.
Lefevere’s concept of translation as a form of rewriting is based on his studies of translations of literary works and their influences on social, cultural and literary development. Instead of a literary translation, this analysis will be based on findings from the translation of a newspaper leader article, which is written in regular everyday language; however, many features of Lefevere’s analysis on literary translation were also identified in the TT.

Translation and the images of the original work

The target audience which does not have direct access to the original text totally depends on the translation to gain an idea of the original work and its writer. According to Lefevere (1992a), rewriters create the images of a writer, work, period, genre, sometimes even a whole literature. He also stresses that a writer’s work gains exposure and achieves influence mainly through misunderstanding and misconceptions created by rewriters (Lefevere, 1999: 234). Translation is a text comprised of refractions and it manipulates messages to project a certain image in the service of certain ideological constraints. According to Lefevere, this fact is apparent in the passages where translators insert in their translations—”passages that are most emphatically not in the original” (1992a: 42).
Lefevere (1992a) also points out that ideology functions as a tremendous constraint in the act of translation. Ideology is not limited to the political sphere, it is “the grillwork of form, convention and belief which orders our actions” (Jameson in Lefevere, 1992a: 16). In the following sections, three categories of ideology which seem to construct the TT will be explained while referring to selected examples:
a) the translator’s ideology;
b) ideological constraint by power or patronage; and
c) ideological constraint initiated by the target audience.

Reflection of the translator’s ideology in the TT

First of all, I will discuss the translator’s ideology reflected in the TT below.
Example 1
ST: No wonder the Crown Princess gets depressed
TT: Kotaishihino soutsu jotaiwa murimonai
Back Translation of the TT (BT): The Crown Princess’ depression is understandable
Although the Process of the ST (“gets depressed”) is initiated by Crown Princess Masako and expresses a certain extent of responsibility on the Crown Princess’ part in her state of depression, the state of her depression becomes the Carrier followed by the Relational Process (“is”) and the Attribute (“understandable”) in the TT. The verbal group of the ST expresses a process in some internal reality and is accompanied by the Agent which carries a certain responsibility or dynamic involvement of the Agent, thereby denoting a certain level ofactiveness-a higher degree of agency as the outcome of the structural choice represented. On the other hand, the TT changes the function of the original Process and represents it as part of the nominal group instead. While the ST places stress or impact on the princess as the initiator of her depression, the TT simply depicts the state of her illness. Therefore, the TT is downgraded or downplayed through rank-shifting. By this, the activeness implied in the ST is lost.
As it is demonstrated in the above example, the translator uses almost all equivalents or synonyms in the TT but as he or she changes the Process of the clause, the TT makes a different statement to that of the original. The translator’s choice in the shift of Process is not due to linguistic or textual constraint, since the Japanese equivalent of the ST Process may function in the same way as in the English language. Therefore, it can be regarded that this shift or insertion of another meaning is due to the translator’s deliberate rewriting as it interferes with the original message and imposes modifications that are not textual or linguistic constraints.
The target clause places a greater stress on the message that the princess is not at all responsible for her depression and that her state is “understandable.” One possible reason for this refraction may be due to the translator’s own ideology or sentiments about the Crown Princess’ situation. The translator may be sympathetic to the princess about her unfortunate situation, which is caused by the tremendous pressure to give birth to a boy—a royal heir. Hence the translator may have made the TT more inexplicit than the ST and as a result, the TT expresses more favorable or sympathetic sentiments towards the princess. This refraction in the TT also allows the readers to project a slightly more favourable image about the princess’s mental condition. Therefore, it may be noted that the translator rewrites the original to elevate the image of the Crown Princess and to recreate the image of the original text.

Reflection of ideological constraints by power or patronage

According to Lefevere (1992a: vii), translation is an activity “carried out in the service of power”—a control factor or patronage which can be exerted by a person, groups of persons, a religious body, a political party, a social class, a royal court, publishers, and the media, including newspapers (ibid: 15). He further notes that such control factors often act as a force on the translators to produce translated texts which conform to their patron’s ideology (Lefevere, 1992b: 14). As a result, translators often resort to rewriting the original work. Moreover, Lefevere explains that patronage basically consists of three elements: an economic component on which the translator depends for his or her living; an element of status of which could lead to elevating the translator’s reputation; and an ideological component which confines the act of translating (1992a: 16).
The translator of the TT is anonymous and this fact suggests that he or she may be an employee of the publishing company; therefore the translator could have been under a constraint to produce a translation with the parameters set by his or her patron—The Japan Times which does not usually criticize the imperial family squarely. In other words, the translator might have been compelled to produce a translation that conforms to the patron’s ideology to secure his or her own economic income. Moreover, as The Japan Times is a well-known newspaper corporation with a good reputation in the target society, having the experience of translating for the corporation may allow the translator to elevate his or her reputation or status as a translator. In this respect, the translator is also under the constraint of producing a TT which conforms to the ideology of his or her patron.
One of the most influential components of patronage is ideology and translators are often under the constraint of a certain ideology of the patronage. The translator of the example text is under various constraints in the service of power initiated by his or her employer—The Japan TimesThe Japan Times (the patron) often takes a relatively conservative position in their opinions about the imperial family. Therefore, it seems only natural that the translator is under the constraint of making sure that the TT does not offend the imperial family in any way and of rewriting the original text to serve the conventions and ideology of the patron.
In the ST system, the aforementioned ST passage in Example 1 is a simple straightforward statement and does not imply anything negative about the princess’ situation; however, direct word-for-word translation of the passage into the target language may connote a slightly negative or insulting message about the princess, since it subtly suggests that the Princess is responsible for her illness. Hence the translator shifts the ST process of “gets depressed” to “depression” followed by the possessive noun “The Crown Princess.” The translator is thus able to avoid projecting a negative image about the Princess. In the service of maintaining the patron’s (The Japan Timespro-imperial family stance, it is observed that the translator deliberately tones down and eliminates the explicitness of the semantic meaning of the aforementioned ST passage in Example 1 in the course of his or her translation.

Reflection of ideological constraint initiated by the target audience

Venuti (1998: 81-82) explains that, when the translation is governed by a socially and culturally influential institution, it has a greater effect on the social mores and the identity-forming process of the target society. In other words, as the example TT is governed by a newspaper corporation which is influential in the identity-forming process of the target society, the translator of the TT is also part of the process. Hence he or she is under tremendous constraint of adapting or rewriting the original text to respond to the social mores as well as to the ideological norms of the receiving society.
Although the imperial family no longer holds political power in the target society, the majority of target readers still highly respect it as the country’s symbol in which the target system takes great pride. Moreover, Princess Masako is also highly regarded and respected amongst many target readers, since she is a Harvard- and Oxford-educated former diplomat who is suffering from accumulated stress and enormous pressure to produce a royal heir. On the account of the target audience’s respect for the imperial family and their sympathetic sentiments towards the princess, the translator may have deliberately rewritten or manipulated the ST in Example 1 and downgraded the explicitness of its message in order to avoid offending the target audience in any way. By this, the social mores of the receiving society is also respected and the translation allows the target audience to maintain its respect toward the imperial family.
In addition, the passage in Example 1 is the article’s opening passage on which the remaining messages hinge. The impact of the first opening sentence is great in any text. If the translator starts the TT with exactly the same message as the original, the majority of target audience who admire the imperial family or the Crown Princess may be offended or insulted, since the accurate or equivalent translation would subtly suggest that the Crown Princess is responsible for her state of depression. And as a result, the target audience might not want to continue reading the remaining statements of the text. It may also prompt the target audience to reject the whole text, and ultimately, the target audience may be critical of the original work or writer. In order to avoid such possible negative responses, the translator could haverewritten the original intentionally to allow the target readers accept the text as well as to project a positive image of the text and its original writer. Consequently, the target audience is able to concentrate on the tasks of learning English and developing its reading skills. In this respect, the translator’s rewriting may be instrumental in the intellectual advancement of the target readers.
From the preceding, it is apparent that “rewritings are inspired by ideological motivations, or produced under ideological constraints” (Lefevere, 1992a: 7). In the attempt to serve various ideological constraints, the translator inevitably leaves his or her marks in the translation. Through such manipulation of the original, the translator may be able to project a certain image of the original work and its writer.

Rewritings refract the interpersonal distance

Every clause is interpersonal in that all clauses act to position both writer/speaker or reader/listener in some way. In the TT, the translator employs the target language convention of using the honorifics to create a certain distance between the writer and the imperial family, thereby expressing a greater degree of respect for the family than the original text. The translator adapts the original text with an intention to project a certain image of the text and writer. In this section, I will discuss the interpersonal distance reflected in the TT in support of Lefevere’s view on translation as a form of rewriting.
When the speakers of the target language talk or write about/to individuals, they resort to various linguistic forms to create distance to express modesty, politeness and respect for those who are addressed or referred to. The use of such devices in writing or speaking is mandatory and it is the convention and part of aesthetics of the target culture. The level of honorifics to be expressed depends on the social status or reputation of, or respect for the subject.
Since the primary purpose of the TT is to provide Japanese equivalents to the target audience (learners of English as a foreign language) in order to help them improve their English reading skills, the honorific language such as sonkeigo, a form of speech or writing to emphasise respect; kenjogo, to express humbleness or modesty; and teineigo, to show politeness, are not major components of the TT. The limitation of applying the honorific protocols in the TT suggests that the translator may have intentionally limited their use, since they confuse the target readers in their tasks of learning English. However, there is one instance where the sonkeigo is inserted in the TT.
The sonkeigo is a form to express one’s respect and admiration for a social superior. In this form of writing or speaking, nouns and verbs are replaced by their polite equivalents which usually have no resemblance in their spelling (characters) or sound. The translator uses the sonkeigo when he or she translates a statement about Princess Kiko’s pregnancy as follows:
Example 2
ST: along comes an unexpected pregnancy to send everything back to square one.
TT: subetewo furidashini modosu yokisenu gokainin gaatta
BT: there came an unexpected (but auspicious) pregnancy to send everything back to square one
In the target language, the standard form of “pregnancy” is ninshin. However, this form is only appropriate when one refers to the state of pregnancy of one’s own family members or friends. And when it is used to state about the pregnancy of someone of a high social status, it is inappropriate. The above is a statement about “an unexpected pregnancy” of Princess Kiko, another member of the imperial family, hence ninshin is replaced by its polite equivalence—gokainin. By this modification, the TT politely connotes that her pregnancy is a happy and auspicious occasion, while also implying a sense of respect for Princess Kiko.
By applying the sonkeigo in the TT, the translator also succeeds in inferring that Princess Kiko is not at all to be blamed for the political commotion in halting the new law to allow a female member to succeed the throne. This manipulation could be a reflection of the translator’s ideology or that of the patron, or even due to the translator’s attempt in rendering the text to conform to the target audience’s favorable sentiments about the imperial family.
In the value system of the target culture, it is important to address people with an appropriate level of politeness. Politeness or respect is expressed more explicitly in the target culture than the culture of the source language. In the target culture, people always address those of a superior social status by their professional or social title instead of personal pronouns. The use of honorific title also creates interpersonal distance.
While the example ST refers to Princess Masako as “the Crown Princess,” “princess” or even “she” sometimes, the TT always refers to her with her formal honorific title: the Crown Princess. Through the repeated use of the princess’s higher honorific title, the TT expresses a greater sense of respect for her than does the ST. This may also be the reflection of a certain ideology; therefore it could be an indication of the translator’s manipulation of how the target audience reads the text and projects an image of the original text and its writer.
As has been illustrated in this paper, translation involves cultural and ideological transportation and that translations are often produced under various constraints to serve certain purposes as they are a constituent of a complex literary, social or cultural system. Translation therefore takes the form of rewriting that is carried out within the framework of the target language, culture and ideology in the service of a control factor wielded by the patron or the receiving system.
In this respect, the translator is a rewriter of the original text as he or she engages in the act of cultural and ideological transportation and distorts the ST to accommodate it into the TT. Although rewriters/translators are usually considered to be meticulous, hard-working, well-read and as honest as is humanly possible, complete equivalence between ST and TT may be impossible due to various constraints. Hence rewriters/translators are, in some respects, traitors,since to a certain extent they violate the original, which they must do to remain within the boundaries of the target culture (Lefevere, 1992a: 13).
Rewritings or translations are manipulation, since they reflect the rewriters’/translators’ efforts in adapting the text to function in a given society in a given way. Also, they may be controversial because they can create different values and practices. However, while their powercan be misused sometimes, in the case described herein the translator has employed his/her power positively in introducing the ST while preserving the target culture and public morals, especially with regards to their symbol and pride—the imperial family.
Venuti also acknowledges that translators have the power to influence society and literature, since translation has “far-reaching social effects” (1998: 81). Indeed, translators have the power to contribute to the preservation or enrichment of the target literature and society, as well as to the enhancement of trust, understanding and respect between different languages, cultures, and ideologies. Furthermore, they may play an invaluable role in bringing the world closer and in enhancing humanity’s identification with global citizenship.
Bassnett, S. (1980) Translation Studies, London: Routledge.
Lantaigne, G. (2001) ‘The Translator: Mediator or Initiator’, in Carmen Rosa Caldas-Coulthard and Carmen Millan Varela (eds) Socio-Translation, The University of Birmingham, 21-30.
Lefevere, A. (1992a) Translation, Rewriting, and the Manipulation of Literary Fame, London/New York: Routledge.
Lefevere, A. (1992b) Translation – History, Culture: A Sourcebook, New York: Routledge.
Lefevere, A. (1999) ‘Mother Courage’s Cucumbers: Text, System and Refraction in a Theory of Literature’, in Larence Venuti (ed) The Translation Studies Reader, London: Routledge.
Toury, G. (1995) Descriptive Translation Studies and Beyond, Amsterdam: John Benjamin.
Venuti, L. (1998) Scandals of Translation: Towards and Ethics of Difference, London: Routledge.
Wardhaugh, R. (1986) An Introduction to Sociolinguistics, London: Basil Backwell.
White, P. (2001) Functional Grammar, The University of Birmingham, Centre for English Language Studies
Published – July 2009
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November 17, 2011 / ABC Translation Services

Translations of Proper Names

Translations of Proper Names

Here is an interesting article on how to translate (or if one should translate) proper namers.
“Proper names are never translated” seems to be a rule deeply rooted in many people’s minds. Yet looking at translated texts we find that translators do all sorts of things with proper names: non-translation, non-translation that leads to a different pronunciation in the target language, transcription or transliteration from non-Latin alphabets, morphological adaptation to the target language, cultural adaptation, substitution, and so on. It is interesting to note, moreover, that translators do not always use the same techniques with all the proper names of a particular text they are translating.
Unlike generic nouns, proper names are mono-referential, but they are by no means mono-functional. Their main function is to identify an individual referent. It has often been claimed that proper names lack descriptive meaning:
“An ordinary personal name is, roughly, a word, used referring, of which the use is not dictated by any descriptive meaning the word may have. (Strawson 1971: 23)”
In the real world, proper names may be non-descriptive, but they are obviously not non-informative: If we are familiar with the culture in question, a proper name can tell us whether the referent is a female or male person (Alice – Bill), maybe even about their age or their geographical origin within the same language community or from another country, a pet (there are “typical” names for dogs, cats, horses, canaries, etc., like Pussy or Fury), a place (Mount Everest), etc. Such indicators may lead us astray in real life, but they can be assumed to be intentional in fiction.
Titles and forms of address can also be problematic in translation. The translation of proper names has often been considered as a simple automatic process of transference from one language into another, due to the view that proper names are mere labels used to identify a person or a thing.
This is exactly what Vendler purports when he writes that “proper names have no meaning (in the sense of ‘sense’ and not of ‘reference’), which is borne out by the fact that they do not require translation into another language” (Vendler1975:117).
In his view, proper names are to be treated as labels, which are attached to persons or objects and the only task of the translator is to carry them over, or transfer them, from the source language text to the target language text.
Basically the same is maintained by Sciarone, who argues, in a much similar vein, that the view that proper names have no meaning (from the point of view of the language system) is corroborated by the general practice of leaving them unchanged in translation (Sciarone 1967:86). It has been shown, however, by authors like Searle (1975) or Strawson (1975) that this view is mistaken: proper names, beyond their identifying function, may also carry ‘senses’. The fallacy of this view thus lies in the incorrectness of the background assumption: not all proper names are mere identifying labels – in fact, most of them turning out to carry meaning of one sort or another. This will entail, then, that the translation of proper names is not a trivial issue but, on the contrary, may involve a rather delicate decision-making process, requiring on the part of the translator careful consideration of the meanings the name has before deciding how best to render it in the target language.
Basically, nouns are classified as common or proper. Common nouns refer to a class of entities (e.g. squirrel), while proper nouns have a unique referent (John, London).
Grammatically, proper nouns behave very much in the same way in the sentence as common nouns. There are, however, well-known co-occurrence restrictions that distinguish them from common nouns. The most important among them are:
  1. Proper nouns (PN) do not accept demonstrative pronouns as determiners. One would not normally say this John just bought a car. However, supposing there are several Johns out of whom you wish to single out a particular one, you are already using John as a common noun meaning ‘any person called John.’
  2. PNs do not accept restrictive adjectives or restrictive relative clauses. In the sentence the Old Shakespeare felt the closeness of his death one is implicitly comparing one of several manifestations in time of the person called Shakespeare with the rest, therefore, one is using the word as a common noun in the grammatical sense. The same applies to sentences such as she is no longer the Eve she used to be. One may deny this only at the price of more or less ad hoc explanations about the character of the noun in question. Another way of putting this would be to say that we have to do with two homonymous words John or Shakespeare respectively, one of which is a proper noun, the other a common noun. When in a given speech situation we have a unique reference, we are dealing with a proper noun, otherwise with a common noun.
  3. Opposition between definite and indefinite is neutralized in PNs (a given PN either invariably takes zero articles as in JohnLondon, or invariably takes the definite article as in the Strandthe Haymarketand the Queen Elizabeth). A seeming counterexample such as that is not the John I was talking about is an instance ofJohn being used as a common noun as seen above. In other words, a noun’s status as either common or proper is ultimately determined by situational factors. If in a given speech situation, there is a possibility of what looks like a proper noun having multiple referents (this Johntwo Johns) we have to do with a common noun homonymous with a proper noun.
All of the above features derive directly from the fact that PNs refer to unique referents. In Randolph was a true Churchill the surname is being used in the sense ‘a member of the Churchill family’, that is, as a common noun.
Whether a given noun is common or proper is not always easy to decide. There are borderline cases that could be classified either way. Also, a given noun may change category depending on how it is used. For instance, a common noun referring to a given landscape feature may turn into a proper noun with a unique referent. Examples include names such as Saari ‘island’, Kymi ‘large river’ etc.
Personal proper names used metaphorically may turn into common names: He thinks he is a Napoleon. On the other hand, surnames such as SmithFletcherand Seppä ‘smith’ have their origin in the trade of the first bearer or rather that of the father of the first bearer. Proper names (used here interchangeably with the expression ‘proper nouns’) can be dealt with in a number of ways in translations.
First, a PN can be transported wholesale from the target text (allowance being made for possible transliteration or transcription depending on the languages concerned). Second, it can be partly transported from the source language (SL) and partly translated. Thirdly, it can be replaced with more or less different names in the target language (TL). Finally, it can be dispensed with altogether.
In a relevance-theoretic framework, the meaning of a concept is made up of a truth-functional logical entry, which may be empty, partially filled or fully definitional and an encyclopaedic entry, containing various kinds of (propositional and non-propositional) representational information about the denotation and, as I understand it, possible connotations of the concept (e.g., cultural or personal beliefs), stored in memory. The concept may also be associated with a lexical entry, which contains linguistic (phonological, morphological, semantic and categorial) information about the natural language item related to it (Sperber and Wilson 1986:83–93). The three different types of information (lexical, logical and encyclopedic) are stored in different places in memory.
It is suggested that the content of an assumption, defined as a structured set of concepts, is the function of the logical entries of the concepts that it contains and the context in which it is processed is, at least partly, drawn from the encyclopedic entries of these concepts (Sperber and Wilson 1986:89).
Prototypical proper names (that is, names without a descriptive content) are handled by associating with them empty logical entries. In other (less prototypical) cases a name may also have a logical entry (or, in the case of a composite name, it may include several logical entries which combine to make up the logical content of the name) which is partly or fully definitional (Sperber and Wilson 1986:91–2). Thus proper names seem to be not essentially unlike any other kinds of expression in terms of the structure of their meaning. Rather, what we find here is a continuum of various sorts of proper names. At one end of the scale we find the most prototypical names, proper nouns, which supposedly lack any logical content but may carry several assumptions in their encyclopedic entries. At the other extreme we have composite names, which are no different in terms of logical content from any ordinary phrasal expression.
What makes them names, eventually, is that they are used as such in the given context. Names of countries seldom pose a problem to the translator. There are lists of the official names of countries in Persian and English that should be consulted. In a few cases, variation does occur depending on the degree of formality involved. The basic rule concerning personal names is that they are left untranslated. In some cases, transliteration or transcription may be needed depending on the language. There are however, exceptions to this basic rule. A trivial one is that in certain languages (Chinese and Japanese, for instance) the order of a person’s first and last name is the opposite to the most common Western order of first name + last name. In Europe, Hungarian last names come before first names. Names of musicals, operas and ballets are sometimes retained in translation. My Fair LadyWest Side Story and Così fan tutte are known all over the world by the original names, a notable exception being Russia, where only translated name are used. Names of international organizations normally have translation equivalents in the member countries. Looking at the number of translation errors actually occurring in texts, a more frequent problem is that of the translator not paying attention to transliteration rules.
In spite of the “translation rule” quoted above, there are no rules for the translation of proper names. In non-fictional texts, it seems to be a convention to use the target-culture eponyms of a source-culture name, if there is one, but if a translator prefers to use the source-culture form, nobody will mind as long as it is clear what place the name refers to. Perhaps the audience will think that the translator is showing off her knowledge too much. Wherever the function of the proper name is limited to identifying an individual referent, the main criterion for translation will be to make this identifying function work for the target audience.
In fiction, things are not quite as simple as that. We have assumed that in fictional texts there is no name that has no informative function at all, however subtle it may be. If this information is explicit, as in a descriptive name, it can be translated – although a translation may interfere with the function of culture marker. If the information is implicit, however, or if the marker function has priority over the informative function of the proper name, this aspect will be lost in the translation, unless the translator decides to compensate for the loss by providing the information in the context. Of course, there are proper names that exist in the same form both in the source and the target culture.
Names of towns, municipalities and villages are examples of settlement names. There is no problem with names of relatively unimportant settlements that are carried over unchanged in translation. The town of Rauma does not change its name, nor does LondonOntario. With smaller places, however, a gloss is often in place to give the reader an indication of the type of place concerned. To sum up, PNs can be treated in a number of ways in translation:
  1. They can be imported unchanged from the SL text;
  2. They can be modified to fit the phonological/graphological system of the TL. This, of course, is something that has or has not been done for the translator by his/her speech community in the case of conventional place names like Praguethe HagueRome etc.;
  3. They can be expanded with a gloss to make up for the TL reader’s lack of world knowledge in the target culture;
  4. On occasion, they might be omitted altogether (perhaps replaced with a paraphrase) if considered peripheral in terms of the central message of the text or if retaining them would be more likely to cause the reader to pause in puzzlement. True, this would be more likely to happen in interpretation, but could not be ruled out altogether in translation, either;
  5. In rare cases, they might even be introduced in the TL text where, instead of a proper name, the SL text contains a cultural allusion unlikely to be understood by the TL reader.
Albin, V. What’s in a name: Juliet’s Question Revisited. In Translation Journal 7(4). October 2003.
Bakken, K. 2002. Navnestatus og bestemthetskategorien In Avgränsning av namnkategorier. Rapport från NORNA:s tjugonionde symposium på Svidja 20-22 april 2001. Terhi Ainiala & Peter Slotte (eds.) Tallinn: Kirjakas.
Carroll, L. (1946): Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. New York: Grosset & Dunlap.
Nord, C. (1994): “It’s Tea-Time in Wonderland: culture-markers in fictional texts.” In: Heiner Pürschel et al. (eds.): Intercultural Communication. Proceedings of the 17th International.
Searle, J. R. 1975. The Problem of Proper Names. In: Steinberg, D. & Jakobovich, L. (eds.) 134–141.
Sperber, D. & Wilson, D. 1986. Relevance. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
Steinberg, D. & Jakobovich, L. (eds.) 1975. Semantics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Strawson, P. F. 1975. Identifying Reference and Truth–Values. In: Steinberg, D. & Jakobovits, L.(eds.) 86–99.
Toury, G. 1978. The Nature and Role of Norms in Literary Translation. In: Holmes, J. S., Lambert, J. & van den Broeck, R. (eds.) Literature and Translation: New Perspectives in Literary Studies, Leuven: Acco. 83–100.
Vendler, Z. 1975. Singular Terms. In: Steinberg, D. & Jakobovits, L. (eds.) 115–133.
Vermes, A. P. 2001. Proper Names in Translation: A Relevance-Theoretic Analysis. Unpublished PhD dissertation. Debrecen: Debreceni Egyetem.
Wilson, D. 1992. Reference and Relevance. In: UCL Working Papers in LinguisticsVol. 4. London: Dept. of Phonetics and Linguistics, University College London. 167–191.
Wilson, D. & Sperber, D. 1988. Representation and Relevance. In: Kempson, R. M. (ed.) Mental Representations: The Interface between Language and Reality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 133–53.
Published – April 2010

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November 17, 2011 / ABC Translation Services

Word sense disambiguation

Here is a fascinating article about word sense disambiguation, and the challenges of computer based translations.
In computational linguisticsword sense disambiguation (WSD) is the process of identifying which sense of a word is used in any given sentence, when the word has a number of distinct senses.
For example, consider two examples of the distinct senses that exist for the word bass:
  1. a type of fish
  2. tones of low frequency
and the sentences:
  1. I went fishing for some sea bass
  2. The bass line of the song is very moving
To a human, it is obvious that the first sentence is using the word bass, as in the former sense above and in the second sentence, the wordbass is being used as in the latter sense below. Developing algorithms to replicate this human ability can often be a difficult task.


  • 1 Difficulties
  • 2 Approaches
  • 3 See also
  • 4 Notes
  • 5 References
  • 6 External links


One problem with word sense disambiguation is deciding what the senses are. In cases like the word bass above, at least some senses are obviously different. In other cases, however, the different senses can be closely related (one meaning being a metaphorical or metonymic extension of another), and in such cases division of words into senses becomes much more difficult. Different dictionaries will provide different divisions of words into senses. One solution some researchers have used is to choose a particular dictionary, and just use its set of senses. Generally, however, research results using broad distinctions in senses have been much better than those using narrow, so most researchers ignore the fine-grained distinctions in their work.
Another problem is inter-judge variance. WSD systems are normally tested by having their results on a task compared against those of a human. However, humans do not agree on the task at hand — give a list of senses and sentences, and humans will not always agree on which word belongs in which sense. A computer cannot be expected to give better performance on such a task than a human (indeed, since the human serves as the standard, the computer being better than the human is incoherent), so the human performance serves as an upper bound. Human performance, however, is much better on coarse-grained than fine-grained distinctions, so this again is why research on coarse-grained distinctions is most useful.


As in all natural language processing, there are two main approaches to WSD — deep approaches and shallow approaches.
Deep approaches presume access to a comprehensive body of world knowledge. Knowledge, such as “you can go fishing for a type of fish, but not for low frequency sounds” and “songs have low frequency sounds as parts, but not types of fish”, is then used to determine in which sense the word is used. These approaches are not very successful in practice, mainly because such a body of knowledge does not exist in a computer-readable format, outside of very limited domains.
However, if such knowledge did exist, then deep approaches would be much more accurate than the shallow approaches. Also, there is a long tradition in computational linguistics, of trying such approaches in terms of coded knowledge and in some cases, it is hard to say clearly whether the knowledge involved is linguistic or world knowledge. The first attempt was that by Margaret Masterman and her colleagues, at the Cambridge Language Research Unit in England, in the 1950s. This attempt used as data a punched-card version of Roget’s Thesaurus and its numbered “heads”, as an indicator of topics and looked for repetitions in text, using a set intersection algorithm. It was not very successful, as is described in some detail in (Wilks, Y. et al., 1996), but had strong relationships to later work, especially Yarowsky’s machine learning optimisation of a thesaurus method in the 1990s.

Shallow approaches don’t try to understand the text. They just consider the surrounding words, using information such as “if bass has wordssea or fishing nearby, it probably is in the fish sense; if bass has the words music or song nearby, it is probably in the music sense.” These rules can be automatically derived by the computer, using a training corpus of words tagged with their word senses. This approach, while theoretically not as powerful as deep approaches, gives superior results in practice, due to the computer’s limited world knowledge. Though, it can be confused by sentences, like The dogs bark at the tree, which contains the word bark near both tree and dogs
These approaches normally work by defining a window of N content words around each word to be disambiguated in the corpus, and statistically analyzing those N surrounding words. Two shallow approaches used to train and then disambiguate are Naïve Bayes classifiers and decision trees. In recent research, kernel based methods such as support vector machines have shown superior performance insupervised learning. But over the last few years, there hasn’t been any major improvement in performance of any of these methods.
It is instructive to compare the word sense disambiguation problem with the problem of part-of-speech tagging. Both involve disambiguating or tagging with words, be it with senses or parts of speech. However, algorithms used for one do not tend to work well for the other, mainly because the part of speech of a word is primarily determined by the immediately adjacent one to three words, whereas the sense of a word may be determined by words further away. The success rate for part-of-speech tagging algorithms is at present much higher than that for WSD, state-of-the art being around 95% accuracy or better, as compared to less than 75% accuracy in word sense disambiguation with supervised learning. These figures are typical for English, and may be very different from those for other languages.
Another aspect of word sense disambiguation that differentiates it from part-of-speech tagging is the availability of training data. While it is relatively easy to assign parts of speech to text, training people to tag senses is far more difficult. While users can memorize all of the possible parts of speech a word can take, it is impossible for individuals to memorize all of the senses a word can take. Thus, many word sense disambiguation algorithms use semi-supervised learning, which allows both labeled and unlabeled data. The Yarowsky algorithm was an early example of such an algorithm.
Yarowsky’s unsupervised algorithm uses the ‘One sense per collocation’ and the ‘One sense per discourse’ properties of human languages for word sense disambiguation. From observation, words tend to exhibit only one sense in most given discourse and in a given collocation. The corpus is initially untagged.
The algorithm starts with a large corpus, in which it identifies examples of the given polysemous word, and stores all the relevant sentences as lines. For instance, Yarowsky uses the word ‘plant’ in his 1995 paper to demonstrate the algorithm. Assume that there are two possible senses of the word, the next step is to identify a small number of seed collocations representative of each sense, give each sense a label, i.e. sense A and B, then assign the appropriate label to all training examples containing the seed collocations. In this case, the words ‘life’ and ‘manufacturing’ are chosen as initial seed collocations for sense A and B respectively. The residual examples (85% – 98% according to Yarowsky) remain untagged.
The algorithm should initially choose seed collocations representative that will distinguish sense A and B accurately and productively. This can be done by selecting seed words from a dictionary’s entry for that sense. The collocations tend to have stronger effect if they are adjacent to the target word, the effect weakens with distance. According to the criteria given in Yarowsky (1993), seed words that appear in the most reliable collocational relationships with the target word will be selected. The effect is much stronger for words in a predicate-argument relationship than for arbitrary associations at the same distance to the target word, and is much stronger for collocations with content words than with function words.
Having said this, a collocation word can have several collocational relationships with the target word throughout the corpus. This could give the word different rankings or even different classifications. Alternatively, it can be done by identifying a single defining collocate for each class, and using for seeds only those contexts containing one of these defining words. A publicly available database called WordNet can be used as an automatic source for such defining terms. In addition, words that occur near the target word in great frequency can be selected as seed collocations representative. This approach is not fully automatic, a human judge must decide which word will be selected for each target word’s sense, the outputs will be reliable indicators of the senses.
A decision-list algorithm is then used to identify other reliable collocations. This training algorithm calculates the probability P(Sense | Collocation), and the decision list is ranked by the log-likelihood ratio:
Log( P(SenseA | Collocationi) / P(SenseB | Collocationi) )

smoothing algorithm will then be used to avoid 0 values. The decision-list algorithm resolves many problems in a large set of non-independent evidence source by using only the most reliable piece of evidence rather than the whole matching collocation set.
The new resulting classifier will then be applied to the whole sample set. Add those examples in the residual that are tagged as A or B with probability above a reasonable threshold to the seed sets. Apply the decision-list algorithm and the above adding step iteratively. As more newly-learned collocations are added to the seed sets, the sense A or sense B set will grow, and the original residual will shrink. However, these collocations stay in the seed sets only if their probability of classification remains above the threshold, otherwise they are returned to the residual for later classification. At the end of each iteration, the ‘One sense per discourse’ property can be used to help preventing initially mistagged collocates and hence improving the purity of the seed sets.
In order to avoid strong collocates becoming indicators for the wrong class, the class-inclusion threshold needs to be randomly altered. For the same purpose, after intermediate convergence the algorithm will also need to increase the width of the context window.
The algorithm will continue to iterate until no more reliable collocations are found. The ‘One sense per discourse’ property can be used here for error correction. For a target word that has a binary sense partition, if the occurrences of the majority sense A exceed that of the minor sense B by a certain threshold, the minority ones will be relabeled as A. According to Yarowsky, for any sense to be clearly dominant, the occurrences of the target word should not be less than 4.
When the algorithm converges on a stable residual set, a final decision list of the target word is obtained. The most reliable collocations are at the top of the new list instead of the original seed words. The original untagged corpus is then tagged with sense labels and probabilities. The final decision list may now be applied to new data, the collocation with the highest rank in the list is used to classify the new data. For example, if the highest ranking collocation of the target word in the new data set is of sense A, then the target word is classified as sense A.

See also


  1. ^ Fellbaum, Christiane 1997. Analysis of a handtagging task. Proceedings of ANLP-97 Workshop on Tagging Text with Lexical Semantics: Why, What, and How? Washington D.C., USA.


  • Wilks, Y., Slator, B., Guthrie, L. (1996) Electric Words: dictionaries, computers and meanings. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • X.Y.Chou, (2007), Yarowsky’s unsupervised algorithm, Oxford Computing Lab.

External links

Published – November 2008
Information from Wikipedia is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License
For more information on translations, please visit ABC Translations at
November 17, 2011 / ABC Translation Services

Business Translations

Business Translations

Today, more than ever before in our world’s history, you need an experienced and professional translation provider to help you compete on a global level. ABC Translations has over 20-years of experience working companies of all sizes – from small firms to Fortune 500 corporations – for all their business translations requirements.

At ABC Translations, our business translation service provides accurate, culturally-correct translations for all types of documents, and we use specialists in specific areas such as marketing, legal, finance, and human resources, to ensure a translation that is not only technically perfect, but also captures the tone, style and point of view of the original.

When it is necessary to conduct business in a foreign language or country, trust the translation specialists at ABC Translations.

Human Touch™

Our exclusive Human-Touch system assures that all of your business translations are performed by native speaking professionals with advanced degrees, and then double-checked by another translator for quality control. Our business translations are always done by real people – usually that live in the very region that your documents will eventually reside.

At ABC Translations, we also specialize in sensitive matters that require the utmost confidentiality. In fact, many of our linguists have been granted a security clearance from the United States government. You can be totally assured that you privileged information remains fully confidential throughout the translation process.

Cost Savings

ABC Translations has over 20-years experience, so we know how to fully examine all aspects of your translation needs with an eye toward consolidating, organizing, and scheduling in order to save you the most amount of money. We act as your translation partner, to make certain that your translations are always on-time, accurate, and provide significant value.

When you need your business translations to be more than good…when you need them to be culturally nuanced so that they reflect the spirit of your brand, then trust ABC Translations – the business translation specialists.

Feel free to visit our website at or send an email to us at: info @

November 17, 2011 / ABC Translation Services

Patent Translations

Patent Translations

ABC Translations can provide flawless, professionally prepared patent application translations.

ABC Translations has expert technical and legal translators ready to provide service to patent law firms throughout the world. Our team of professional patent translators work in virtually every language, including Asian languages such as Japanese, Chinese and Korean; and in European languages such as German, French, Spanish, Italian and Russian.

ABC Translations patent translation services can accurately translate patent applications, prior art, foreign references and related IP documents, and documents related to patent litigation. Our patent translators are chosen for their fluency, educational background, and expertise in the technical field related to the matter.

Translated patents are formatted in the correct patent format and conform to the guidelines of the local patent office – ensuring that patent applications are accurate and accepted. Patent drawings are translated and can be lettered again if required.

We provide expert translation of patents into English or virtually any other language in the world, as well as translation of court documents in patent litigation cases.

When you require speed, accuracy, and technical proficiency in your patent translation, turn to ABC Translations – a trusted translation agency for over 20 years.

For more information on patent translations, please visit us at or contact us at info @

November 1, 2011 / ABC Translation Services

Marketplace Confusion

When I began this company over twenty years ago, I had one goal in mind… to provide the best quality translations and provide superb customer service. We have grown to become one of the largest and most respected translation services in the nation, due to our unwavering commitment to this goal, day in and day out.

Over the years I have seen significant changes in the industry and many translation companies come and go, but one fact remains constant: In life there are many people that do good work; some that do great work; and a handful that provide truly outstanding work. I believe that our success has been built upon the enormous talent of the individuals that work with us, and their dedication to making sure that every project they touch is autographed with pride.

If you have worked with us in the past, then I thank you for your support. If you are looking for a translation service company, then I invite you to try us on your next project. You have my personal promise that you will not find a more accurate, culturally correct, and carefully constructed translation – anywhere, at any price.

Some confusion in the marketplace

Unfortunately, there is another company calling themselves ABC Translations, which as far as we can tell, are operating out of Los Angeles or Miami. We have received several calls from this other company’s customers. It is sometimes difficult for them to believe that we are not the same company. Some of these people have gone so far as to post negative reviews regarding the service they received, and sometimes these posts get inappropriately attributed to our company.

So for the record… We have been in business for over 20 years and pride ourselves on our excellent reputation. We work with large corporations, government agencies, and non-profits and have a tremendous amount of repeat business.

If you ever have a question about a translation, or want to inquire about a job in progress (which won’t really be necessary because if you are a current customer, you know that we stay in very close contact), you are free to contact me directly… just please don’t confuse us with the other company out there.

We are located in Virginia. Our phone numbers are call us at (800) 284-2468 or (703) 255-5235.

Our website is

Thank you,

Jodi Castro

December 9, 2009 / ABC Translation Services

Translations for the Pharmaceutical Industry

Here is an excerpt from an article from Future Pharmaceuticals Magazine regarding the special role of professional translations within the pharmaceutical industry, some of the challenges in the process, and the importance of working with a professional translation agency with experience in this specific area. The article features an interview with Jodi Castro, President and CEO of ABC Translation Services, LLC.

“The world of clinical trials is expanding with many patient participants being engaged from sites around the globe. This calls for a clear translation — that is the translation of the study must be contextual and factual in whatever language it is being read. For pharmaceutical companies that do not have this specific expertise, the translation industry can be a link to clear communication.

Future Pharmaceuticals: What is the role of the translation industry and why is it so critical to the globalization of the pharmaceutical industry?

Jodi Castro: In clinical trials, the need to find patient participants outside of the U.S. has become increasingly important. With this need comes the requirement for clear and open communication of the study, however, this expertise is rarely a core competency in a pharmaceutical company or clinical research organization (CRO). This is where the translation industry fits into the equation — global communication is the core expertise of the translation industry with specialized communications critical to the successful clinical trial environment.

Additionally, translation services provide solutions to the issues the pharmaceutical industry faces in communicating with world populations. Clinical trial translations are filled with industry-specific terms and specializations which must be understood within the context of the end-user culture prior to the translation. The translation agency offers expertise and insight regarding cultural nuances among each ethnicity and specifically to key disciplines — including scientific, medical, and legal professionals within native-speaking communities. A translation partner navigates the issues related to properly communicating industry-specific language to native-speaking end-users and eliminates costly delays and errors.

FP: What are the most important aspects/characteristics of a translation service partner to the pharmaceutical industry?

JC: Choosing the proper language partner is critical to the successful outcome of a clinical trial. First and foremost, it is important that the language partner can provide translations into virtually any language, and has access to a global network of professional linguists. These linguists must be certified specialists in the target market having a complete knowledge and full understanding of the culture where the clinical trial is taking place. This will play a vital role when recruiting patients and developing proper communications; ensuring consistency, accuracy and reducing the risk for error. An effective language partner must also provide: dedicated project management and key personnel; administrative and standard operational procedures which meet regulatory requirements; and key product deliverables — from patient-enrollment outreach materials and diaries to medical product inserts and labels.

Beyond the ability to fulfill standard business requirements, a true translation partner shares client goals and assumes an ownership for the achievement of these goals throughout the lifecycle of the project. As with any partnership, effective communication from the beginning is crucial to a productive relationship. Having confidence in a translation agency that provides the best possible client service and strategic approach can prove to be an invaluable long-term resource.

ABC Translation Services ( provides the best of all worlds: it has the depth and resources to handle projects of any size, targeting any culture or language in the world, yet it is small enough to provide unparalleled customer service and support, as it has done for over 20 years. ABC has sustained long-term relationships, which inevitably provide work flow efficiencies and cost savings over time.”

To read the remainder of this article, please visit our website at

December 9, 2009 / ABC Translation Services

The Problems With Machine-Based Translations

In a wonderful article by Cecilia Quiroga-Clare, some of the challenges of computer based language translation are discussed. She writes:

“We tend to think of language as a clear and literal vehicle for accurately communicating ideas. But even when we use language literally, misunderstandings arise and meanings shift. People can be intentionally or unintentionally ambiguous. Nevertheless, when someone uses a potentially ambiguous sentence or expression, usually the intention was to express only one meaning. As we know, most words can have denotations, apparent meanings, connotations and implied or hidden meanings. Also, we often use words in a figurative way. Even though figurative language is more often used in poetry and fiction, it is still very common in ordinary speech.

Ambiguity is a poetic vehicle. It is human nature to try to find meaning within an exchange. A text is given to us and in return we give our interpretation. Our own associations give understanding of what is presented to us.

One of the most significant problems in processing natural language is the problem of ambiguity. Most ambiguities escape our notice because we are very good at resolving them using context and our knowledge of the world. But computer systems do not have this knowledge, and consequently do not do a good job of making use of the context.

The problem of ambiguity arises wherever computers try to cope with human language, as when a computer on the Internet retrieves information about alternative meanings of the search terms, meanings that we had no interest in. In machine translation, for a computer it is almost impossible to distinguish between the different meanings of an English word that may be expressed by very different words in the target language. Therefore all attempts to use computers alone to process human language have been frustrated by the computer’s limited ability to deal with polysemy.

The reality is that there no operational computer system capable of determining the intended meanings of words in discourse exists today. Nevertheless, solving the polysemy problem is so important that all efforts will continue. I believe that when we achieve this goal, we will be close to attaining the holy grail of computer science, artificial intelligence. In the meanwhile, there is a lot more to teach computers about contexts and especially linguistic contexts.”

For more information on ABC Translation Services human-touch translations, and why we never use a machine-based translation process, please visit our website at:

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