Author Archives: pangeanic

4 Steps to Improve your Marketing Localization

When planning marketing localization is important to know that 75% of non-English speakers prefer to shop for products in their native tongue, while 60% of non-English speakers will rarely visit a website that is written only in English. The benefits of translating a website and creating a multi-language digital marketing strategy are numerous, and not just for conversions but in overall international exposure. Translating marketing content is as essential as providing translated product manuals or translating your website, and optimizing traffic across multiple languages is a challenge that many international websites face.

This are the steps to take to improve your marketing localization

  1. Prepare your content for international audiences

The first step in crafting content that’s ready for digital marketing purposes across multiple languages is ensuring that it’s global ready from the get-go. Always create digital marketing content with a global audience in mind. This means writing blogs, posts and website content with a simple sentence structure and avoiding using idiomatic language and cultural-specific words. This will help reduce the number of edits and changes translators will have to do when asking you for references regarding the cliches you’ve used.

  1. Take advantage of innovations in technology

Marketing localization strategiesIn today’s digital market, various types of technology exist that can enhance the quality of your translations. From state-of-the-art translation memory technology, machine translation memory, publication APIs and translation management software to reduce inefficient processes, there exist many ways to ensure your marketing content is translated to into outstanding content in any language and culture. Investing in a company that provides these high-quality language services and access to these technologies will pay off in the amount of multi-language traffic and conversions you can see in the long-run.

  1. Multiple languages in multiple countries

If your website is designed to serve multiple languages in multiple countries, you’ll want to be smart about how you design your website from the beginning. Use a generic domain such as .com, that way you can target various countries and create language-specific subfolders within the sitemap. Ensure that each version of your website is optimized with the SEO keywords specific to their area and utilize hyperlocal strategies such as Google Maps for businesses in each country or city that you are trying to be present in.

  1. Don’t believe that all translators are equal

By now you, hopefully, know that Google Translate isn’t a sufficient way to translate your website and marketing material, and the same goes for translating companies. Ensure that the company you’re going to work with employs the best translators in a wide variety of languages and industries. You should look for a company that takes into account not only the translation of your marketing content but looks at your product, service, and target audience to make edits according to social and cultural nuances.

Four steps that will make a difference when planning Marketing localization, and will target your audience in any language you plan translating on.

Where are we at with Neural Machine Translation?

Neural Machine Translation (NMT) is the new approach to machine translation. NMT works with an end-to-end architecture that aims to train all the components simultaneously to maximize its performance. The architecture takes into account the full sentence as a context, which enables it to achieve a fluent translation.

Has Neural Machine Translation Achieved Human Parity?

Recently, Google, Microsoft, and SDL have argued that Neural Machine Translation (NMT) has achieved human translation parity with “Google’s Neural Machine Translation System: Bridging the gap between human and machine translation”, “Achieving human parity on automatic Chinese to English news translation” and “SDL cracks Russian-to-English translation” respectively.

In a recent work just accepted in EMNLP 2018 conference, experiments comparing neural machine translations with human translations are being conducted. The task consists of ranking 55 documents and 120 sentences from the WMT 2017 Chinese–English test set. The documents and sentences are evaluated in monolingual (only target language text) and bilingual (both source and target language text) conditions. The raters are professional translators with at least three years of experience and boast positive client reviews. For the monolingual condition, they recruited 5 translators native in English, whilst for the bilingual condition, they recruited 2 translators native in Chinese, 1 translator native in English and 1 translator native in both English and Chinese.

In the monolingual condition, translators preferred the human-produced text over the machine-produced text in terms of the sentences as well as the documents. In the bilingual condition, the translators’ ratings demonstrated a significant preference for human translation over machine translation when evaluating documents. However, when evaluating isolated sentences, machine translation achieves parity to human showing no preference.

This is undoubtedly a good finding. NMT quality is impressive but there are two important aspects to consider. The first one is that authors are wary to conclude that the results could make us think that MT performs better in adequacy than fluency. Nevertheless, MT evaluation can probably be more favorable when the majority of translators are native in the source language. The second one is that evaluating at a sentence level can be insufficient as textual, cultural and other contexts are unknown and these elements have to be taken into account in order to really understand the translation.

These findings confirm the necessity to continue researching at document level as recent works. By augmenting the context to document level, machine translation will be able to improve coherence and cohesion of the translated text. Document-level NMT can avoid some errors that at sentence level are impossible to recognize like gender concordance across the sentences.

Neural Machine Translation

Nowadays, it is easier to read a book on any device

Is neural machine translation useful to translate literary texts?

The market of literature translation is growing due to the use of electronic books. In the last years, the sales of electronic books have doubled worldwide. Nowadays, it is easier to read a book on any device or even listen to audiobooks. Translation is obviously growing in this market as well. However, translating literary texts requires creativity that machines cannot afford, for example facing untranslatability, metaphors or idioms. This is the most challenging scenario for machine translation.

In spite of the improvement of translation performance using Neural Machine Translation (NMT) due to taking into account the sentence as a context, literary texts are still difficult to automatically translate. In order to know how far we can progress with machine translation in literature domain, in this work presented by Dr. Antonio Toral and Prof. Andy Way, 12 novels are translated from English to Catalan with NMT systems:

  • Auster’s Sunset Park (2010)
  • Collins’ Hunger Games #3 (2010)
  • Golding’s Lord of the Flies (1954)
  • Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea (1952)
  • Highsmith’s Ripley Under Water (1991)
  • Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns (2007)
  • Joyce’s Ulysses (1922)
  • Kerouac’s On the Road (1957)
  • Orwell’s 1984 (1949)
  • Rowling’s Harry Potter #7 (2007)
  • Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye (1951)
  • Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings #3 (1955)

English and Catalan -coming from different families- were chosen in order to make the task more challenging. Also, Catalan is a mid-size European language, which means that there are available resources to train a system but not as much as other major European languages like Spanish, French, German or Italian. The NMT system was trained with 133 novels translated from English to Catalan and 1000 books written in Catalan.

The translations of 3 books were manually ranked by native Catalan speakers comparing human translation to NMT. For 2 books, NMT system obtained equivalent quality to human translations in around a third of the cases.

Technology has improved the machine translation performance in this domain but it is still a low rate, so it requires many efforts of human reviewing as mentioned in a previous post. Authors are planning to investigate if NMT can be useful to assist human translators in the translation of literary text measuring the effort and quality.

New approaches and data collection will improve these results. There is a lot of research going on to achieve a competitive rate in the literature domain. One day, machine translation will be ready for that, but it will take some time.

Only Work with a Professional Translator for Legal Documents

To consider working with a professional translator for legal documents we should first look at some numbers. There is an estimated 18% increase for recognized translators, which is on average much higher than other professions. With the importance of having official documentation such as medical health papers represented as accurately as possible, this should come as no surprise. When it comes to getting legal documents translated, the necessity of going with a recognized translator or translation service is of equal importance, as even the smallest mistake can have dire consequences. Here is why you should always go with a professional when it comes to translating your legal documentation.

Know exactly what you’re getting from a professional translator for legal documents

Professional translator for legal documents

Professional Translator For Legal Documents

There are a lot of listicles and memes related to ‘English Fails’ and they usually revolve around typos and incorrect translations in marketing materials. While these are of course funny for an audience that has no connection to the story, imagine the horror for businesses realizing the shortcuts they took really had massive consequences. When it comes to getting legal documents translated properly, it really isn’t the time to opt for Google Translate. Not only does context matter in a translation, but there is a chance many of the sentences won’t be structured to have the same meaning as the original. This can not only lead to overall miscommunication, but even a lawsuit if anyone is affected by the incorrect translation. Don’t skimp on money or time here, make sure to work with professionals for accuracy.

Fluency does not equal professional

26% of Americans are bilingual, but you have to keep in mind that doesn’t automatically mean that they are masters of either language they speak. Even if an individual is fluent, if they are not professional translators many important distinctions and contexts might fall through the cracks, rendering the translated document inaccurate. A person may also believe they are fluent in Spanish when in reality they can only speak conversational Spanish with family members, which will not be useful in translating academic, medical or legal documents. A professional and recognized translator or translation service allows you to be worry-free as they not only use their fluency, but also their mastery of the given language to translate a legal document accurately as possible, keeping all meanings intact. Instead of allowing a friend or relative to loosely translate important papers, opt for the professionals.

While the internet makes it easier than ever to communicate with people, when it comes to important affairs, we should always avoid shortcuts. Online methods of quick translations or fluent speakers of a given language should never be viewed as a substitute for the real thing. By using a recognized and professional translation service, you can easily make sure what is needed to be conveyed will effectively be conveyed—along with all of the small and large details.

Researcher in neural machine translation: Mercedes García-Martínez

Pangeanic is a company in constant technological development: our award-winning R&D is focused on AI and Neural Machine Translation research and development to offer our customers the best quality translations and innovative services. Mercedes García-Martínez, who has a PhD in computer science with a specialization in neural machine translation research, has recently joined our team.

Mercedes did her PhD at the computer lab of the University of Le Mans in France. Her thesis, titled “Factored Neural Machine Translation“, was one of the first in the world to investigate neural translation models and to apply factorial models to this type of machine translation for the first time. In general, it consists of helping to improve translation quality, through linguistic knowledge, increasing the available vocabulary without having to increase the size of the neural network. She has also taken specialized courses in neural networks, such as the one given in Montreal, Canada, at the prestigious MILA laboratory and another on machine translation (MT Marathon 2012). She has also participated in courses on translation technologies and research on the translation process at the Copenhagen Business School. Not to mention, she has more than 20 scientific publications in international journals and conferences and 166 citations in Google Scholar.

Today she shares her opinion with us about the changes we will see in the near future thanks to neural machine translation engines.

What is your opinion on the technological change that society is undergoing?

Society is evolving by leaps and bounds thanks to artificial intelligence. Just looking back a few years, we see great changes in all disciplines. Today’s technology is very sophisticated; machines are capable of learning large amounts of data, automating tasks and making fairly accurate predictions.

One of the main branches of artificial intelligence is artificial neural networks. These are inspired by the physical functioning of the human brain. In this way, the machine is able to memorize a lot of data and learn how to solve a task using given examples. Neural architectures are in continuous evolution and are one of the most popular research areas. They can learn any task and the only setback is the need for a large volume of data. I don’t think this will be the case for long, though, as more and more data are being collected today, so neural networks will be very much in the spotlight in the coming years.

What is your experience as a researcher in neural machine translation?

I have been involved in machine translation projects for over seven years. I have carried out projects to incorporate machine translation engines in companies (PangeaMT and Celer Solutions) and European research projects (CASMACAT). I have also organized summer schools on translation technologies at the Copenhagen Business School: Translation data analysis (TDA) and ASR & Eye-tracking Enabled Computer-Assisted Translation (SEECAT). I have also participated in the Machine Translation Workshop where universities and companies compete to achieve the highest quality of machine translation in a given task.

What do you see yourself doing five years from now?

I’m sure that in 5 years, neural machine translation will have changed a lot. In recent years, every month there has been some improvement that is being integrated into the neural machine translation process. There is still much room for improvement and many areas to be researched because it is a very modern technology and needs time to achieve optimal use. In preneural statistical strategies, it took about 10 years to achieve system maturity. So, in 5 years I see myself improving the neural models and integrating new features to make the quality even better.

What do you predict for the future of the translation industry?

The language industry has changed a lot in recent years. For example, it is no longer possible to work without a computer. Since the emergence of the neural network paradigm in machine translation, the translation industry has shown great interest given its higher quality, closer to that generated by a human translator than that obtained from statistical machine translation. The machines automate and facilitate the arduous, repetitive and uninteresting tasks that the human translator does not need to do, allowing for faster delivery of translation jobs. However, there will still be a need for a specialist human translator to proofread the machine translations, as they are not perfect, and thus achieve the quality demanded by the client.

Some domains, such as catalogs, are easy to translate automatically and will require almost no human intervention. On the contrary, literary texts, in which many expressions and metaphors are used, are very difficult to translate automatically and will require human professional work in the very long term.

Furthermore, the translation of nearby and widely used languages is easier to carry out automatically, but when it comes to translating languages from different families and with few speakers, machine translation does not yet achieve good quality and depends on the intervention of a professional human translator.

Speak to Global Customers in Their Own Language

Digital Business and Language Translation

by Manuel Herranz
In many ways, the world seems to be getting smaller. Transatlantic flights may still take hours, but there is no denying that international markets are becoming more accessible than ever due to globalization, increased connectivity and the relaxation of trade barriers. Previously, the possibility of doing business overseas was only an option for large businesses as they had extensive resources, and specialist knowledge. Fortunately, this is no longer the case as even small digital businesses can reach out to international markets in a number of ways, mostly through international websites, translation services and website localization. A digital business has the option of using a ready-made sales platform such as Amazon, offering direct online sales or seeking trading partners in the local market. Content Management Systems like WordPress, Joomla, etc., and eCommerce software like Prestashop or Magento make it easy to have a global presence…in one language.

However, in order to begin, a digital business has to get its message across to the target audience. This essentially means that you have to be able to speak your customers’ language. It is a fact that the most widely used language online is English. Therefore if you native language is not English (as it is my case) you need a translation company and good English translation services to ensure your international website looks great. To some extent, a digital business can use it as a bridging language in the corporate world, but most likely you will need translation services into several languages you are not familiar with. After all, English represents only a third of total online usage because the majority of the world population doesn’t speak English at all. There is also substantial evidence that indicates that even if people understand English, they prefer to visit websites in their own native language, if they are available.

Speak to Global Customers in Their Own Language

Plenty of surveys have been conducted and all indicate that nearly 75% of online buyers prefer to make purchases from websites in their native language. This means that even if your digital business has a product or service that can garner genuine global appeal, you may not be able to enjoy success if you aren’t able to market in the local language. This can be accomplished by working with native researchers and language translators who can provide you with the relevant cultural background and the necessary facts and figures.

A study carried out by the European Commission in 2011 showed that

  • Nine out of 10 Internet users stated that, if given a choice of languages in a website, they always visited a website in their own language.
  • Nearly 1 in 5 Europeans (that’s 20%) said they never browsed websites in any other language but their own.
  • 42% said they never purchased products and services in other languages.

The study points at the fact that while many Europeans are well-known multilinguals, they still strongly prefer to buy in their native languages.

Localizing your WebsiteIssues for website translation

The website of every digital business is basically a virtual shop window and it is usually the main asset used by your business for reaching international customers. Digital business and language translation are partners in a world where just changing the display language in a website makes it available to millions of users. New customers will often visit your website to get a better idea of your products and services. You can make use of machine language translation as they offer an easy and quick solution. However, machine translation may lead to some contextual errors, which can be corrected by native-speaking translators. They ensure that your content is factually correct and can also assist with cultural sensitivity and references. Machine translation is suitable for localizing shipping information, prices and currencies and any import and custom duties, as well as non-essential content.

Translation of other Materials

Machine language translation can also be used by digital business for marketing materials like instruction manuals, brochures and online assistance. In case of social media presence, local profiles have to be made and you may also think about using local platforms instead of globally recognized ones. This can only be done with the aid of human translators as they can help in maintaining your page.

A digital business should bear in mind that language translation is an ongoing process for reaching out to foreign markets and maintaining your position.

Optimize your website with expert keyword translations

We have dealt extensively with the need of not focusing on literal translation work when translating a website. The term website localization began to be used some years ago as an added value service involving research of terms as used in a country rather than just the translation (which may be perfectly fine) but not the preferred term people search for in the target country you are focusing. With constant changes in search algorithms, the marriage between digital business and language translation is here to stay.

Further reading: Why a Digital Publisher Needs a Translation Company as a Partner


Where do I host to avoid the Great Firewall of China?

OK, you have translated your website into Chinese, and now you wish to make all that exciting content available to more than 1,500 million people. Are you going to just add Chinese as another language on your website? You probably have heard some sites cannot be accessed from China, that payment methods are different. Foreign sites load pretty slowly – you need to avoid the great firewall of China. Thus, do you really need now to host your website in China to target visitors, clients or the general public in mainland China?

The answer is yes and no.

China is the second largest economy in the world. It will not take long for the size of the Chinese economy to surpass the US’ GDP. Many Western companies have been involving with trade in China in a way or another. Alibaba’s was valued as a Nasdaq stock on an equal footing as Facebook or Twitter. Alipay is the only reliable means of accepting payments in China, which gives it even more prominence among websites trading internationally and with problems to avoid the great firewall of China in terms of extracting payments from purchases made by Chinese shoppers. Most Fortune 500 companies have branches, factories or representative offices in China.

For many companies, either online business or “traditional economy”, the internet is playing a very significant role in finding new niches and in their day-to-day operations. I have been dealing with Chinese companies, buying and selling since the late 90’s in the last century, days when even email was not stable and access to the Internet plainly illegal sometimes. Using emails or running a website might be a sine qua non in Europe, Japan or the US and much of the world, the existence of the Great Firewall of China, makes it a real issue for speed, connection and availability. The Great Firewall Program is a program put in place by the Chinese government to monitor and filter Internet content and some sites (particularly those sites which prey Big Data and to which we so blindly hand over much of our lives and content like Google, Twitter or Facebook). Russia has Yandex as a local, specialist search engine and other social media, which more or less follows the partners of GTF like VK, or Odnokasniki, social sites that specialize in friend communities for the countries that shared a common past as part of the USSR (you can access them in English, too). China has Weibo, which merges all the features of Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and other social media into a single hub. The English version of Weibo is not prominent at all, and registration, just like for its main search engine Baidu, requires a Chinese phone number. You can try to register in Chinese with foreign telephone numbers, but will not be easy.

Captura de pantalla 2015-03-14 a las 18.31.45

All international Internet connections from and to China cannot avoid the great firewall of China and must pass through it.

The best known effect of the Great Firewall is the blocking of various, well known foreign websites in China. If a website is deemed to breach Chinese law, the government is able to prevent access from any internet connection in PRC. Some keen Internet surfers know how to avoid the Great Firewall of China via proxy or by Using virtual private networks (VPNs), but the majority of the population will not be bothered to go through the hustle of purchasing a VPN or configuring it.

Another less known effect is that due to filters in place by the Great Firewall of China, foreign websites are perceivably slow and take longer to access load and from China. If you have translated your site into Simplified Chinese (mainland China) or Traditional Chinese (Southern parts of china, Hong King and Taiwan), it is likely the Chinese section of your website will go unnoticed. Plus, if you happen to host your website in Europe or the East Coast in the US, the simple rule applies: the farther the foreign server, the slower the access is from China. However, websites hosted in the West Coast of the US, Korea, Japan, Singapore etc. will load comparatively faster.

Therefore, we recommend you consider hosting in or around China if you are targeting the Chinese public. If you run a general business website, without a lot of media content, hosting near the country will suffice to reach Chinese users, even if not as optimal as hosting locally. There are two hosting companies I can recommend from experience. One is SinoHosting ( which is focused on hosting foreign companies targeting China. It offers a good array of servers in Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea which are fast to access from various regions within China. The website explains that companies targeting the Southern province of Guandong should host in Hong Kong, while those targeting Northern parts like Beijing or the Northern China should host in Korea, etc.). The second hosting company I recommend is Kowloon Hosting.

Websites blocked by the Great firewall of China are usually adult-related or political websites. The BBC has been blocked a few times. If you are not dealing with this type of areas, a normal company nad business will never be deemed as suspicious or call the attention enough to be blocked. However, you may be unlucky and share a server or IP address with a site that happened to be blocked. You would run out of luck in this case, and it would take you years to recover from such a blow as decisions are not taken fast in China – much less overrulings.

For companies that have a legal presence in China it makes sense to go through the hassle to apply for the ICP license which is required to host your website in China. Others do not have the option to host in China due to the impossibility for them to apply for the ICP license, and therefore should host at one of the locations mentioned above.