Traduzco, luego olvido

El uso continuo de Internet en la profesión del traductor: ¿aliado incondicional o enemigo silencioso?

2. Traduzco, luego olvido_photo

Todos sabemos que el advenimiento de la red informática mundial, mejor conocida como Internet, ha sido, quizás, el avance tecnológico más importante desde la invención de la imprenta, simplificando y acelerando la búsqueda de información de maneras inimaginables hasta hace unas décadas. Lo que tal vez sea novedad para algunos es que ya están empezando a sentirse sus consecuencias nefastas en la capacidad de atención y concentración y en la memoria de quienes usan Internet de continuo. En este sentido, los traductores no somos la excepción: tanto para los que nacieron en la era digital como para los que fuimos testigos asombrados de los actuales avances en tecnología de la información, el uso de Internet en nuestra profesión es imprescindible y ya no podemos imaginar trabajar de otro modo. Es más, los límites son bastante difusos y tampoco podemos imaginar prescindir de Internet en nuestra vida personal. Tendremos que hallar maneras de evitar que ello nos lleve a prescindir de funciones básicas de nuestro cerebro.

La labor del traductor, en cifras

Un traductor típico traduce habitualmente tres mil palabras por día; puede decirse entonces que, en promedio, la cantidad de palabras que traduce por hora es de aproximadamente trescientas y, por minuto, de alrededor de cinco. Esto significa que los traductores tomamos al menos dos «microdecisiones» terminológicas por minuto mientras trabajamos, y que la cantidad de microdecisiones de este tipo que tomamos en un día cualquiera es de alrededor de mil doscientas.

Mil doscientas veces al día nos entregamos al desafío de encontrar en nuestra lengua el equivalente a una palabra en un idioma extranjero o viceversa. Si el texto que estamos traduciendo no nos es absolutamente familiar, o si no está escrito de manera clara y coherente, la magnitud de ese desafío puede multiplicarse exponencialmente.

Es aquí es donde entra en escena el recurso que ha transformado más profundamente la labor de investigación del traductor: el uso de Internet. Para los traductores experimentados, dedicados a un campo de especialización específico, es relativamente sencillo encontrar fuentes de información confiables que nos permitan trabajar con mayor rigor y celeridad. El uso de Internet es un recurso prácticamente indispensable, por ejemplo, en la compilación de corpus lingüísticos de especialidad, una de las herramientas de uso habitual en nuestro trabajo, que nos permite determinar cómo se expresan y escriben los especialistas.

En la actualidad, sería impensable traducir sin un acceso a Internet rápido e ininterrumpido. De hecho, muchos nos aseguramos de tener más de un proveedor de servicios de Internet como parte de nuestro plan para contingencias. Lo que muchos de nosotros nunca previmos es que las mil doscientas microdecisiones que solemos tomar diariamente en nuestras diez horas diarias de conexión, durante cinco, seis o siete días a la semana, terminarían cambiando la manera en que funciona nuestro cerebro, nuestra habilidad para recordar rápidamente datos básicos y nuestra capacidad para concentrarnos en lecturas relativamente cortas.

Efectos negativos de la facilidad de acceso a la información

Desde tiempos inmemoriales, el ser humano siempre ha confiado no solo en la información almacenada en su propio cerebro, sino también en los datos específicos de cuya preservación son supuestos responsables otros miembros de su grupo social. En el hogar, por ejemplo, puede ser la madre la que habitualmente recuerde las fechas de cumpleaños de toda la familia y el padre el que sepa qué club de fútbol quedó en tercer lugar en el campeonato mundial hace diez años.

Esta distribución de la memoria evita la duplicación innecesaria de esfuerzos y sirve para ampliar la memoria colectiva del grupo. Al desligarnos de responsabilidad por cierto tipo de información, liberamos recursos cognitivos que, de otra manera, hubiéramos tenido que utilizar para recordar esa información, y los usamos para incrementar la profundidad de nuestros conocimientos en las áreas de las que nos consideramos a cargo.

Ya Sócrates se quejaba de que los libros eran enemigos de la memoria, dado que los individuos, en lugar de recordar las cosas por sí mismos, habían comenzado a depender de la palabra escrita. Actualmente, a todos los fines prácticos, ha dejado de ser eficiente usar el cerebro para almacenar información. Debemos reconocer que el uso casi permanente de Internet tiene efectos formidables en nuestra vida. Hay quienes comparan Internet con un «cerebro fuera de borda» o un disco rígido externo, con una capacidad de memoria muy superior a la que tiene —o necesita— un cerebro humano, y preocupa a los investigadores que sea tan adictivo como el alcohol o el tabaco, alentando el mismo tipo de comportamientos compulsivos.

La facilidad para acceder a la información, una de las ventajas fundamentales del uso de Internet, está teniendo hondos efectos en nuestra capacidad para retener la información adquirida. Se han realizado estudios que indican que puede alterar los mecanismos del cerebro responsables de la memoria a largo plazo. Según Elias Aboujaoude, doctor en medicina, psiquiatra e investigador de la Universidad de Stanford, «¿Para qué preocuparnos por recordar cuando tenemos toda la información a un clic de distancia? Memorizar se ha transformado en un arte perdido».

 Hoy en día, podemos acceder instantáneamente a la totalidad de la memoria humana a través de Internet con solo realizar una búsqueda rápida. Muchos afirman que, a causa de esta inmediatez, Internet está menoscabando nuestras facultades cognitivas, socavando el impulso de guardar información en nuestros propios bancos biológicos de memoria, en lo que se ha dado en llamar el «efecto Google».

En su controversial artículo Is Google Making Us Stupid?, Nicholas Carr, escritor norteamericano, experto en las nuevas tecnologías de la comunicación, afirma: «En los últimos años, he tenido la incómoda sensación de que alguien o algo ha estado jugando con mi cerebro, reestructurando mis circuitos neuronales, reprogramando mi memoria. Hasta donde puedo decir, mi mente no está fallando, pero definitivamente está cambiando».

Dos plagas de la era de la información: la sensación de saber y el fenómeno de la punta de la lengua

Dos de los fenómenos más notables causados por el uso continuo de la tecnología para acceder a la información son la incómoda sensación de saber (convicción de que se posee cierta información a pesar de no haber podido recuperarla de la memoria en un momento determinado) y el fenómeno de la punta de la lengua (estado similar a la sensación de saber, pero en el cual la recuperación se percibe como inminente).

Los traductores hemos dejado de esforzarnos por recordar datos, para tratar de acordarnos de cómo y dónde encontrarlos. Si se nos pregunta, por ejemplo, por la traducción de una parte específica y poco conocida del cuerpo humano y no la recordamos inmediatamente, lo más probable es que nuestra reacción inicial no sea pensar en la anatomía humana en absoluto, sino tratar de ver cómo resolver nuestra duda a través de Internet. Además, hay estudios que demuestran que, una vez hallado el dato que buscamos, tendemos a memorizar no el dato en sí mismo, sino cómo y dónde lo hemos encontrado para franquear más fácilmente esa dificultad si vuelve a presentársenos más adelante.

Efectos negativos de la adaptación al exceso de información

Ya dando por sentado el hecho de que los traductores recurrimos casi automáticamente a realizar una búsqueda en Internet antes de sondear nuestra propia memoria, debemos admitir que la enormidad de la información disponible en Internet supera nuestra capacidad para asimilarla, al menos en un lapso razonable. Es así que comenzamos a utilizar, muchas veces intuitivamente, una serie de técnicas que nos permiten adaptarnos a tal exceso de datos.

Entre las más comunes se destacan:

  • la lectura exploratoria (skimming), una lectura rápida y activa, focalizada en determinar cuál es la idea general del texto; utilizamos estrategias como ubicar palabras clave y valernos de ayudas tipográficas (texto en negrita, texto resaltado, títulos, subtítulos, gráficos y sus encabezados);
  • la lectura analítica rápida (scanning), una lectura orientada a buscar los datos deseados, ignorando el resto del contenido; en este caso, lo que hacemos es «barrer» el texto con la vista, buscando nombres propios u otras palabras, números, fechas u otros datos específicos.

Ocasionalmente, también recurrimos a lo que podríamos llamar una vista previa, que nos ayuda a determinar si el material es apropiado y puede resultarnos útil. Las estrategias que utilizamos en este caso incluyen examinar el título a fin de realizar conjeturas acerca del contenido del material, determinar el nombre del autor, la fecha de publicación, etc., para sacar conclusiones acerca de si el material es pertinente, leer el prólogo o la introducción en búsqueda de información relevante, o revisar el índice para hacernos una idea general del contenido.

Estos métodos hacen que podamos acceder a una gran cantidad de información en un espacio de tiempo mucho más breve, pero se está llegando a la conclusión de que, a la larga, estos hábitos de lectura nos impiden concentrarnos largo tiempo en la lectura y nos hacen más propensos a la distracción.

Si bien esto no afecta mayormente el proceso de traducción en sí mismo, de por sí ágil y muchas veces caracterizado por intensas descargas de adrenalina, empieza a notarse, sí, cuando nos enfrentamos a la corrección o revisión de un texto, propio o ajeno. Es posible entonces que apliquemos automáticamente, casi sin darnos cuenta, estos mismos métodos de lectura, con las consecuencias que pueden inferirse rápidamente. Muchas veces nos descubrimos leyendo un texto «a vuelo de pájaro», cuando deberíamos estar haciendo una lectura detenida y cuidadosa, palabra por palabra, prestando atención a signos de puntuación y errores que podrían burlar las defensas del corrector automático. La lectura rápida puede transformarse en nuestro peor adversario cuando trabajamos como correctores o revisores.

También se está empezando a percibir que estos hábitos de lectura, que tan útiles nos resultan en nuestro trabajo, van impregnando poco a poco también nuestra vida personal. En este ámbito, podemos llegar a encontrar difícil leer noticias o artículos extensos e incluso libros, e impacientarnos cuando nos hallamos ante argumentos largos. A estas alturas, la búsqueda perentoria de información se convierte para nosotros en algo así como una obsesión. La misma tecnología que nos permite ser cada vez más ágiles también nos va llevando a tener comportamientos cada vez más rígidos.

Cómo contrarrestar, al menos en parte, el efecto Google

La buena noticia es que, si nos lo proponemos, podemos revertir, aunque sea parcialmente, estos efectos.

Las herramientas más útiles parecen ser evitar en lo posible la lectura rápida e irreflexiva, concentrándonos en realizar una lectura profunda y atenta y haciendo un esfuerzo consciente por consolidar la información. En otras palabras, evitar la distracción y alimentar la memoria a largo plazo[1], los dos aspectos más afectados por el uso constante de Internet en nuestro trabajo diario.

Tengamos en cuenta que, además de ser placentero, leer profundamente estimula el almacenamiento de información en la memoria. En su ensayo Traducción – Interacción: lecturas interactivas e interaccionales como preparación a la traducción, Jeanne Dancette habla de la utilidad de «resumir, detenerse en los obstáculos dando marcha atrás para verificar o aclarar un punto, y hacer anticipaciones o predicciones sobre el texto». Estos pueden ser buenos puntos de partida para [volver a] desarrollar nuestra capacidad lectora y, tal vez, recuperar nuestro antiguo placer por la lectura.

Hagamos un pequeño paréntesis aquí para reflexionar acerca de cómo llevar esto a la práctica traductora, tanto en que respecta a la atención en la lectura como a la consolidación de la información en la memoria a largo plazo y el uso de nuestros propios recursos internos.

  • Si bien todos sabemos de la urgencia que caracteriza la mayor parte de nuestros encargos, leer atentamente el texto y detenernos en los obstáculos que pueda presentar antes de comenzar a traducir podría ser una excelente manera de encarar cualquier trabajo. Muchos ya lo hacemos habitualmente, pero a todos nos serviría para comprender profundamente el texto antes de pretender volcarlo fielmente a la lengua de destino.
  • También sería sumamente útil perder unos minutos, o incluso solo unos segundos, tratando de recordar términos o expresiones que ya conocemos —o, si esto no es posible, hacer algún tipo de anticipación o predicción— antes de realizar una búsqueda en Internet.

El hecho de realizar el esfuerzo de memorizar sirve para reeducar el cerebro, ya que modifica nuestras sinapsis cerebrales de modo de poder aprehender ideas y habilidades nuevas no solo en el momento presente, sino también en el futuro.

Para lograr este almacenamiento de información en la memoria a largo plazo se requiere pasar por un proceso conocido como consolidación. Si la información no se consolida, se olvida. Almacenar datos y establecer conexiones entre ellos requiere un alto grado de concentración y compromiso intelectual o emocional. Si utilizamos Internet sistemáticamente como recurso inmediato para sustituir el uso de nuestra propia memoria, sin atravesar el proceso interno de consolidación, no tardaremos en ver los resultados en nuestra memoria a largo plazo.

Por último, es interesante recordar que, dada la manera en que funciona el cerebro, la generación de recuerdos duraderos es un proceso que requiere del transcurso de varias horas y ocurre fundamentalmente durante el descanso. Es por ello que descansar apropiadamente también es esencial para no olvidar lo aprendido.

Conclusión

Cuanto más usamos Internet, impulsados velozmente de una página a otra por motores de búsqueda e hipervínculos, más entrenamos al cerebro para la distracción, para el procesamiento rápido y eficiente de la información, pero sin una atención sostenida. Tratemos de actuar rápidamente para evitar que esto nos afecte permanentemente y recordemos, por último, que para el cerebro humano —que no para las computadoras— el cielo es el límite.

 

Nota al pie

[1] Podemos hablar de tres tipos de memoria: la memoria sensorial, que puede durar unos segundos y se hace evidente, p. ej., al «recuperar» de la memoria algo que acabamos de escuchar, tras la apariencia de no haberlo comprendido; la memoria a corto plazo, que puede durar unos minutos e incluso horas, y la memoria a largo plazo, que puede durar años.

 

Este artículo también puede leerse en inglés:

Keep yourself from losing your memory to the Internet
Unplug. Slow down. Search your brain.

 

Agradecimiento:

Imagen publicada con permiso del autor, el fotógrafo Salvatore Dore: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jmind2_0. Todos los derechos reservados.

 

Referencias bibliográficas

American Psychological Association, APA, 2010. APA. Diccionario conciso de psicología. 1st ed. Colombia: Editorial El Manual Moderno.

Carles Soriano Mas, 2007. Fundamentos de Neurociencia/ Fundamentals of Neuroscience (Manuales/ Psicologia) (Spanish Edition). Edition. EDIUOC.

Greenblatt, A., 2010. Impact of the Internet on Thinking: Is the Web Changing the Way We Think? CQ Researcher, [Online], Volume 30, Number 33, 773-796. Available at: http://www.sagepub.com/ritzerintro/study/materials/cqresearcher/77708_interthink.pdf [Accessed 18 May 2015].

Lecto-comprensión de la lengua inglesa. 2012. Textos en inglés y en español: elementos en común. [ONLINE] Available at: http://monterofabiana.blogspot.com.ar/2012/10/teoria-y-actividades.html?view=magazine. [Accessed 18 May 15].

Nicholas Carr. 2008. Is Google Making Us Stupid? What the Internet is doing to our brains. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/is-google-making-us-stupid/306868/. [Accessed 17 May 15].

Nicholas Carr, 2011. Superficiales (The Shallows) (Spanish Edition). Edition. Taurus.

Rodríguez, E. (2003). La lectura. Cali (Valle, Colombia): Programa Editorial Universidad del Valle.

Wegner, Daniel M. et al, 2013. The Internet Has Become the External Hard Drive for Our Memories. Scientific American, [Online], Volume 309, Issue 6 , N/A. Available at: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-internet-has-become-the-external-hard-drive-for-our-memories/?page=1 [Accessed 18 May 2015].

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On reviewing other people’s translations and having my own reviewed by others

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I started reviewing other people’s translations and having mine reviewed by others about thirty years ago, while working at the translation department of a major public bank in my country, Argentina.

We used to translate financial agreements and bank-related stuff mostly, but legal papers and different types of technical texts as well, including patents and manuals.

We worked the old-fashioned way– face to face, in groups of three or four, on “real” pieces of paper, using “real” black pens. There weren’t any computers, Internet resources or electronic dictionaries. No translators’ fora on which to ask “difficult” questions. No CAT tools or translation memories to share. No DTP resources either, just simple, ordinary typewriters.

There was, yes, a wonderful collection of dictionaries in the office, and, when our own resources failed to fit the bill, there was the possibility of browsing the well-provisioned library of the Ministry of Economy, just two blocks away, crossing the sadly famous Plaza de Mayo Square, and the U.S. Lincoln Library (at the time located on Florida Street, about a block away from Plaza San Martín).

We used to have hot discussions over the meaning of a word, over the convenience of using one grammatical structure or another, over whether we were respecting the original or not… until we would come to an agreement (or go with the majority opinion).

Sometimes, all this was not enough and there was the need to ask for expert advice. So, depending on the nature of the translation, we would resort to people from the Legal Department, the Project Development Team or Architectural Services, for example, and we would pester them with questions and doubts, paper and pencil in hand.

The pile of paper sheets would grow over days… or weeks. And a glossary for the whole project would be developed at the same pace. There being no word processors, we had to go back and forth uncountable times in our manuscripts, making corrections here and there, when we finally found out the meaning of those problem words that repeated themselves all over the translation.

Then, each of us would check his or her own translation against the original for accuracy and completeness, make consistency adjustments, and correct any spelling mistakes (spell-checkers in 30 languages were still science fiction). Finally, we would put all the pieces together and hand them to the lucky one who would review the whole thing.

My first reviews taught me a lot about my colleagues’ personality and particular ways of approaching a translation– the extent and success of their research efforts, their ability (or inability) to keep consistency in a long text and to maintain attention to detail after long hours of work, the swiftness with which they would take things for granted… I felt at the time, and I still feel today, that such a “dissection” of someone else’s work is a unique opportunity to see how other people work, how they organize their thinking and work, how much they understand and like (or dislike) a certain text and the translation task in general.

Whether it was me or someone else in the team that reviewed the group’s work, we always followed not only an established working procedure but also certain “good fellowship” criteria. We had our differences, but, in essence, we were all friends. And were there to help each other do the best possible job.

Today, I don’t have the opportunity of being part of “physical teams” as I did in the past. I work with e-colleagues from distant places in the planet, and I somehow miss the closeness I shared with my old workmates. But the lessons I learnt while working with them will always stay with me…

#1 – I always respect the original translation. I may like it or not, I might have done the whole thing quite differently, but if the translation is correct, I leave it as it is. (In some cases, I write comments on how I’d have solved a certain problem posed by the source text, and many translators have been grateful for these.)

#2 – I never undertake to review a text when I’m not familiar with the subject matter. In a similar fashion, I try to have my translations reviewed by the “right” people.

Some time ago, I was asked to bid for the translation into Spanish of some mutual fund reports. I had to translate a sample text, which was short but full of twists and turns. I immediately called Javier, a good old friend of mine, who’s an expert in stock markets and mutual funds and, on top of that, a very good translator. I translated the sample and sent it over to him for revision– an hour later, when I got the text back, I couldn’t recognize it. Not that he had changed “my style”, but apparently I had chosen all the “wrong” terms. I submitted the translated sample rather dubiously… but they happily gave us the job. Javier and I worked together for the following month. Every time I finished two or three of the reports, I forwarded them to him. I’d receive them back the following day, all red-marked at the beginning. In the course of the month, I learnt a lot about that specific terminology and, by the end of it, Javier just had to make minor adjustments to my texts. We would discuss, argue and even quarrel, but finally came to agreements. It was kind of stressing, but everything went just fine.

#3 – Whenever possible, I reserve the right to have my translations reviewed by people I like and respect, people who will respect my work but who won’t overlook my mistakes, whether big or small. If, after working once or twice with somebody, I find out that he or she is not the “right one” for me, I just won’t ask them again.

In short, the relationship between translator and reviewer should be based on trust, friendship and genuine teamwork. And, of course, “genuine teamwork” is not possible when the translator feels the reviewer is out there to criticize and prove his or her point, and not to help out.

Machine Translation. From the Cold War to Deep Learning.

MT From the Cold War to Deep Learning

I can’t imagine a world in which artificial intelligence can stand on its own, free from the hand and heart of a human translator.

As Ben Screen says in his article The future of translation is part human, part machine—

We are nowhere near an infallible technology.

Translation inaccuracies, failure to figure out ambiguities and to understand context in creative language, inability to successfully communicate nuances of meaning, and lack of cultural awareness are not the only cons of machine translation. The use of online MT also involves a risk of disclosure of sensitive information.

It seems to me MT should be understood strictly as a tool, and be used as such. A tool to facilitate our work. A tool, just like the many others we use on a daily basis.

Whatever your take may be on this issue, though, you may want to know how MT developed. The post below, amazingly researched and written by Vasily Zubarev (Python developer, NLP specialist, blogger), and reblogged here with his permission, tells a fascinating story. Read on, my friends!

(You can also go ahead and read the original post here.)

Story begins in 1933. Soviet scientist Peter Troyanskii presented “the machine for the selection and printing of words when translating from one language to another” to the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. The invention was super simple— cards in four different languages, a typewriter, and an old-school film camera.

The operator took the first word from the text, found a corresponding card, took a photo and typed its morphological characteristics (noun, plural, genitive) on the typewriter. The typewriter’s keys encoded one of the features. The tape and the camera’s film were used simultaneously, making a set of frames with words and their morphology.

The resulting tape was sent to linguists and turned into a belletristic text. So only native language was required to work with it. The machine brought the “intermediate language” (interlingua) to life for the first time in history, embodying what Leibniz and Descartes had only dreamed of.

Despite all this, as it had always happened in the USSR, the invention was considered “useless.” Troyanskii died of Stenocardia after trying to finish it for 20 years. No one in the world knew about the machine until two Soviet scientists found his patents in 1956.

It was at the beginning of the Cold War. On January 7th 1954, at IBM headquarters in New York, the Georgetown–IBM experiment started. IBM 701 computer automatically translated 60 Russian sentences into English for the first time in history. “A girl who didn’t understand a word of the language of the Soviets punched out the Russian messages on IBM cards. The ‘brain’ dashed off its English translations on an automatic printer at the breakneck speed of two and a half lines per second” —reported the IBM press release.

However, the triumphant headlines hid one little detail. No one mentioned the translated examples were carefully selected and tested to exclude any ambiguity. For everyday use, that system was no better than a pocket phrasebook. Nevertheless, the Arms Race launched; Canada, Germany, France, and especially Japan, all joined the race for machine translation.

The vain struggles to improve machine translation lasted for forty years. In 1966, the US ALPAC committee, in its famous report, called machine translation expensive, inaccurate, and unpromising. They had instead recommended focusing on dictionary development, which eliminated US researchers from the race for almost a decade.

Even so, a basis for modern Natural Language Processing was created only by the scientists and their attempts, research, and developments. All of today’s search engines, spam filters, and personal assistants appeared thanks to a bunch of countries spying on each other.

Rule-based Machine Translation (RBMT)

The first ideas of rule-based machine translation appeared in the 70s. The scientists peered over the interpreters’ work, trying to compel the tremendous sluggish computers to repeat those actions. These systems consisted of:

  • Bilingual dictionary (RU -> EN)
  • A set of linguistic rules for each language (nouns ending in certain suffixes such as -heit, -keit, -ung are feminine)

That’s it. If needed, systems could be supplemented with hacks, such as lists of names, spell checkers, and transliterators.

PROMPT and Systran are most famous examples of RBMT systems. Just take a look at the Aliexpress to feel the soft breath of this golden age.

But even they had some nuances and subspecies.

Direct Machine Translation

This is the most straightforward type of machine translation. It divides the text into words, translates them, slightly corrects the morphology, and harmonizes syntax to make the whole thing sound right, more or less. When the sun goes down, trained linguists write the rules for each word.

The output returns some kind of translation. Usually, it’s quite shitty. The linguists wasted for nothing.

Modern systems do not use this approach at all. Linguists are grateful.

Transfer-based Machine Translation

In contrast to direct translation, we prepare first —determining the grammatical structure of the sentence, as we were taught at school—, and manipulate whole constructions, not words — afterwards. That helps to get quite a decent conversion of the word order in translation. In theory. It still resulted in verbatim translation and exhausted linguists in practice.

On one side, it provided simplified general grammar rules, and on the other, it became more complicated because of the increased number of word constructions in comparison with single words.

Interlingual Machine Translation

The source text is transformed to the intermediate representation, unified for all the world languages (interlingua). That’s the same interlingua Descartes dreamed of: a metalanguage, which follows the universal rules and transforms the translation into a simple “back and forth” task. Next, interlingua converts to any target language, and here comes the singularity!

Because of the conversion, interlingua is often confused with transfer-based systems. The difference is the linguistic rules specific to every single language and interlingua, and not language pairs. This means, we can add a third language to the interlingua system and translate between all three, and can’t do the same in transfer-based systems.

It looks perfect, but it’s not, in real life. It was extremely hard to create such universal interlingua —a lot of scientists have worked on it their whole life. They did not succeed, but thanks to them we now have morphological, syntactic, and even semantic levels of representation, only meaning-text theory costs a fortune!

The idea of an intermediate language will be back. Let’s wait awhile.

As you can see, all RBMTs are dumb and terrifying, and that’s the reason they are rarely used unless for specific cases such as weather report translation, etc. Among the advantages of RBMT most often mentioned are its morphological accuracy (it doesn’t confuse words), reproducibility of results (all translators get the same result), and ability to tune it to subject areas (to teach economists or programmers specific terms).

Even if anyone were to succeed in creating an ideal RBMT and linguists enhanced it with all the spelling rules, there are always some exceptions —all the irregular verbs in English, separable prefixes in German, suffixes in Russian, and situations when people just say it differently. Any attempt to take into account all the nuances would waste millions of man-hours.

And don’t forget about homonyms. The same word can have a different meaning in a different context, which leads to a variety of translations. How many meanings can you catch in “I saw a man on a hill with a telescope”?

Languages did not develop based on a fixed set of rules that linguists loved. They were much more influenced by the history of invasions in the past three hundred years. How should I explain that to a machine?

The forty years of the Cold War didn’t help in finding any distinct solution. RBMT was dead.

Example-based Machine Translation (EBMT)

Japan was especially interested in fighting for machine translation. There was no Cold War, but there were reasons: very few people in the country knew English. It promised to be quite an issue at the upcoming globalisation party. So the Japanese were extremely motivated to find a working method of machine translation.

Rule-based English-Japanese translation is extremely complicated —language structure is completely different, almost all words have to be rearranged and new ones added. In 1984, Makoto Nagao from Kyoto University came up with the idea of using ready-made phrases instead of repeated translation.

Let’s imagine, we have to translate a simple sentence— “I’m going to the cinema.” We already translated another similar sentence— “I’m going to the theater,” and we have the word “cinema” in our dictionary. All we need is to figure out the difference between the two sentences, translate the missing word, and then not fuck it up. The more examples we have, the better the translation.

EBMT showed the light of day to scientists from all over the world: it turns out, you can just feed the machine with existing translations and not spend years forming rules and exceptions. Not a revolution yet, but clearly the first step towards it. The revolutionary invention of statistical translation would happen in five years.

Statistical Machine Translation (SMT)

At the turn of 1990, at the IBM Research Center a machine translation system was first shown which knew nothing about rules and linguistics as a whole. It analyzed similar texts in two languages and tried to understand the patterns.

The idea was simple yet beautiful. An identical sentence in two languages split into words, which were matched afterwards. This operation was repeated about 500 million times to count, e.g. how many times the word “Haus” was translated as “house,” “building,” “construction,” etc. If most of the time the source word was translated as “house,” we were using this. Note that no rules were set and no dictionaries were used —all conclusions were drawn by the machine, guided by stats and the logic “If people translate it that way, so will I.” And statistical translation was born.

The method was much more efficient and accurate than all the previous ones. And no linguists were needed. The more texts we use, the better translation we get.

There was still one question left— how does the machine correlate the word “Haus” and the word “building,” and how do we know these are the right ones?

The answer— we don’t. At the start, the machine assumes that the word “Haus” correlates equally with any word from the translated sentence. Next, when “Haus” appears in other sentences, the number of correlations with “house” increases. That’s the “word alignment algorithm,” a typical task for university-level machine learning.

The machine needs millions and millions of sentences in two languages to collect the relevant statistics for each word. How do we get them? Well, let’s just take abstracts of the minutes of the European Parliament and the United Nations Security Council meetings —they are available in the languages of all member countries and are now available for download: UN Corpora and Europarl Corpora.

Google’s statistical translation from the inside. It shows not only the probabilities but also counts the reverse statistics.

 

Word-based SMT

In the beginning, the first statistical translation systems worked by splitting the sentence into words, as this was straightforward and logical. IBM’s first statistical translation model was called Model One. Quite elegant, right? Guess what they called the second one?

Model 1: “The bag of words”

Model One used a classical approach to split sentences into words and count stats. Word order wasn’t  taken into account. The only trick was translating one word into multiple words. E.g. “Staubsauger” could turn into “vacuum cleaner,” but that didn’t mean it would work the same way vice versa.

Here are some simple implementations in Python: [shawa/IBM-Model-1].

Model 2: Considering word order in sentences

The lack of knowledge about word order in languages became a problem for Model 1, a very important one in some cases. Model 2 dealt with that; it memorized the usual place the word takes at the output sentence and shuffled the words for a more natural flow at the intermediate step.

Things got better, still shitty tho.

Model 3: Extra fertility

New words appear in the translation quite often, such as articles in German or using “do” when negating in English. “Ich will keine Persimonen” → “I do not want Persimmons.” To deal with it, two more steps were added in Model 3:

  • NULL token insertion, if the machine considered a new word was needed;
  • Choosing the right grammatical particle or word for each token-word alignment.

Model 4: Word alignment

Model 2 considered word alignment, but knew nothing about reordering. E.g., adjectives often switch places with nouns, and no matter how good the order is memorized, it won’t make the output any better. Therefore, Model 4 takes into account the so-called “relative order”— i.e., the model learns whether two words always switch places.

Model 5: Bug fixes

Nothing new. Model 5 got some more learning parameters and fixed the issue with conflicting word positions.

Despite its revolutionary nature, word-based systems still failed to deal with cases, gender, and homonymy. Every single word was translated in a single-true way, according to the machine. Such systems are not used anymore, being replaced by the more advanced phrase-based methods.

Phrase-based SMT

This method is based on all word-based translation principles: statistics, reordering, and lexical hacks, although, for learning, it splits the text not only into words but also into phrases. The n-grams, to be precise, which are a contiguous sequence of n words in a row. Thus, the machine learned to translate steady combinations of words, which noticeably improved accuracy.

The trick is, phrases are not always simple syntax constructions, and the quality of the translation drops significantly if anyone who is aware of linguistics and sentence structure interferes. Frederick Jelinek, the pioneer of computer linguistics, joked about it once: “Every time I fire a linguist, the performance of the speech recognizer goes up.”

Besides improving accuracy, phrase-based translation provided more options in choosing bilingual texts for learning. For word-based translation, the exact matching of sources was critical, which excluded any literary or free translation. Phrase-based translation has no problem learning from them. To improve the translation, researchers even started to parse news websites in different languages for that purpose.

Starting 2006 everyone started to use this approach. Google Translate, Yandex, Bing, and other high-profile online translators worked as phrase-based right until 2016. Each of you can probably recall the moments when Google either translated the sentence flawlessly or resulted in complete nonsense, right? Phrase-based feature.

The good old rule-based approach consistently provided a predictable though terrible result. Statistical methods were surprising and puzzling. Google Translate turns “three hundred” into “300” without any hesitation. That’s called a statistical anomaly.

Phrase-based translation has become so popular that when you hear “statistical machine translation” that is what is actually meant. Up until 2016, all studies lauded phrase-based translation as the state-of-art. Back then, no one even thought that Google was already kindling its stoves to change our whole image of machine translation.

Syntax-based SMT

This method should also be mentioned, briefly. Many years before the emergence of neural networks, syntax-based translation was considered “the future or translation,” but the idea did not take off.

Adepts of syntax-based translation believed in the possibility of merging it with the rule-based method. It’s necessary to do quite a precise syntax analysis of the sentence — to determine the subject, the predicate, other parts of the sentence, and then to build a sentence tree. Using it, the machine learns how to convert syntactic units between languages and translate the rest by words or phrases. That would have solved the word alignment issue once and for all.

Example taken from Yamada and Knight [2001] and this great slide show.
The problem is, syntactic parsing works like shit, despite the fact that humanity considered that solved a while ago (as we have ready-made libraries for many languages). I’ve tried to use syntactic trees for tasks a bit more complicated than to parse subject and predicate. And every single time I gave up and used another method.

Neural Machine Translation (NMT)

A quite amusing paper on using neural networks in machine translation was published in 2014. The Internet didn’t notice it at all, except Google —they took out their shovels and started to dig. Two years later, in November 2016, Google made a game-changing announcement.

The idea was close to transferring style between photos. Remember apps like Prisma, which enhanced pics with some famous artist’s style? There was no magic. The neural network was taught to recognize the artist’s paintings. Next, the last layers containing the network’s decision were removed. The resulting stylized picture is just the intermediate image the network got. That’s the network’s fantasy, and we consider it beautiful.

If we can transfer a style to a photo, what if we try to impose another language on the source text? The text would be that precise “artist’s style,” and we’d try to transfer it while keeping the essence of the image (to wit, the essence of the text).

Imagine I’m trying to describe my dog— average size, sharp nose, short tail, always barks. I’ve given you a set of the dog’s features, and if the description is precise, you can draw it, even though you’ve never seen it.

Now, imagine the source text as a set of specific features. Basically, all it takes is to encode it, and let the other neural network decode it back to text, but, in another language. The decoder only knows its language. It has no idea of the origin of the features, but it can express them, e.g., in Spanish. Continuing the analogy, no matter how you draw the dog —with crayons, watercolor, or your finger, you paint it as you can.

Once again— one neural network can only encode the sentence to a set of features, and another one can only decode them back to text. Both have no idea about each other, and each of them knows only its own language. Recall something? Interlingua is back. Ta-da.

The question is, how to find those features. It’s obvious when we’re talking about the dog, but how to deal with text? Thirty years ago, scientists already tried to create the universal language code, and it ended in a total failure.

Nevertheless, we have deep learning now. And that’s its essential task! The primary distinction between the deep learning and classic neural networks lays precisely in an ability to search for those specific features, without any idea of their nature. If the neural network is big enough and there are a couple thousand video cards at hand, it’s possible to find those features in text as well.

Theoretically, we can pass the features gotten from the neural networks on to the linguists, so that they open brave new horizons for themselves.

 

The question is, what type of neural network should be used for encoding and decoding. Convolutional Neural Networks (CNN) are a perfect fit for pictures since they operate with independent blocks of pixels. But there are no independent blocks in text; every next word depends on the surroundings. Text, speech, and music are always consistent. So Recurrent Neural Networks (RNN) would be the best choice to handle them, since they remember the previous result —the prior word, in our case.

RNNs are now used everywhere— Siri’s speech recognition (we’re parsing the sequence of sounds, where the next one depends on the previous one), keyboard tips (memorizing the prior one, guessing the next one), music generation, and even chatbots.

Within two years, neural networks surpassed everything that had appeared in the past 20 years of translation. Neural translation contains 50% fewer word order mistakes, 17% fewer lexical mistakes, and 19% fewer grammar mistakes. Neural networks have even learned how to harmonize gender and case in different languages. No one taught them to do so.

The most noticeable improvements occurred in fields where direct translation was never used. Statistical machine translation methods always worked using English as the key source. Thus, if you translated from Russian to German, the machine first translated the text to English and then from English to German, which led to double loss. Neural translation doesn’t need that— only a decoder is required so it can work. It was the first time direct translation between languages with no сommon dictionary became possible.

[You can read the original article for information about Google Translate and Yandex.]

The conclusion and the future

Everyone’s still excited about the idea of the “Babel fish”— instant speech translation. Google steps towards it with its Pixel Buds, but in fact, it’s still not what we were dreaming of. Instant speech translation is different from the usual one. It’s necessary to know when to start to translate and when to shut up and listen. I haven’t seen suitable approaches to solve this yet. Unless Skype…

And here’s one more empty area— all learning is limited to a set of parallel text blocks. The deepest neural networks still learn from parallel texts. We can’t teach a neural network without providing it with a source. People, instead, can complement their lexicon by reading books or articles, even if not translating them into their native language.

If people can do it, the neural network can do it too, in theory. I found only one prototype attempting to incite the network, which knows one language, to read texts in other languages in order to gain experience. I’d try it myself, but I’m silly. Apparently, that’s it.

Useful links

Philipp Koehn: Statistical Machine Translation. Most complete collection of the methods I’ve found.
Moses — popular library for creating own statistical translations
OpenNMT — one more library, but for the neural translators
The article from one of my favorite bloggers explaining RNN and LSTM
A video “How to Make a Language Translator,” funny guy, neat explanation. Still not enough.
TensorFlow text guide for creating your own neural translator, for those who want more examples and to try the code.

About the Author

la foto del perfil de Vasily Zubarev, La imagen puede contener: 1 persona
Vasily Zubarev is a Python developer, NLP specialist, and blogger.

Capsule Vocabularies: Análisis forense

dirt-88534_1280

Forensic scientists collect, analyze, and compare physical evidence from suspected crimes. They provide analysis of evidence in toxicology, including alcohol, controlled substances and clandestine drug labs, biology and DNA, firearms, impression evidence such as shoeprints, tire marks or fingerprints, trace evidence including hair, fibers, and paint, and crime-scene analysis of blood spatter patterns and evidence collection, and they testify in state and federal court cases about their analyses in criminal trials.

If you need to translate documents in the field of forensic analysis, you may find this capsule vocabulary list by Rebecca Jowers most helpful.

Léxico Jurídico Español-Inglés

In their work ES-EN legal translators (and lawyers and professors) often require a minimum basic vocabulary in a specific area of law, something that they will be hard pressed to find searching word-by-word in a dictionary. (In this case, the “problem” with dictionaries is that they are in alphabetical order!) Blog entries labeled “Capsule Vocabularies” will feature some of the basic terminology lists developed for use by my students of legal English that may also be of interest to translator and interpreter colleagues and other legal professionals.

(Análisis forense) Forensic Analysis

  • policía científica—forensic police; crime scene investigators
  • inspección ocular técnico policial—crime scene investigation
  • análisis dactiloscópico; dactiloscopia—fingerprint analysis; dactyloscopy
  • prueba dactiloscópica—fingerprint evidence
  • análisis lofoscópico; lofoscopia—handprint/footprint analysis
  • análisis de ADN—DNA analysis
  • marcadores de ADN—DNA markers
  • análisis toxicológico—toxicological analysis
  • análisis balístico (balística forense)—ballistic analysis (forensic ballistics)
  • análisis acústico (acústica…

View original post 94 more words

Diccionario Español de Ingeniería en línea

pexels-photo-132700
Photo by Alexander Dummer on Pexels.com

El Diccionario Español de Ingeniería es un recurso fantástico de fácil acceso que puede resultar muy útil a la hora de traducir textos técnicos, incluso del campo de la ingeniería biomédica, al español.

El Diccionario Español de Ingeniería se concibe como un gran árbol cuyo tronco es la Ingeniería y del que se desprenden nueve grandes ramas:

  • Astronáutica, naval y transportes
  • Agroforestal
  • Construcción
  • Tecnologías de la información y las comunicaciones
  • Seguridad y defensa
  • Química industrial
  • Energía
  • Ingeniería biomédica
  • Ingeniería general

Estas nueve grandes ramas de la Ingeniería se han dividido en treinta y dos campos para recoger con precisión todas las voces técnicas utilizadas por los ingenieros afines a cada una de ellos.

Han pasado más de diez años desde que empezaron las gestiones para la elaboración del Diccionario y durante los siete últimos años se han analizado 120 millones de palabras, se han utilizado unas 1500 obras de referencia y han participado más de 100 ingenieros y expertos en los distintos campos de la Ingeniería con el apoyo de un equipo lexicográfico dotado de los mejores medios tanto personales como materiales.

Esta primera edición del Diccionario Español de Ingeniería incluye más de 50.000 voces de la Ingeniería pero, al igual que la lengua de la que se alimenta, es una obra viva que se irá actualizando a medida que surjan nuevos avances tecnológicos y con ellos nuevos términos.

Se trata de un repertorio que recoge vocablos de cada una de las disciplinas que forman la Ingeniería y que además es pionero en accesibilidad y usabilidad.

Enlace para acceder al Diccionario:

Diccionario Español de Ingeniería

Modo de citar:

Título: Diccionario Español de Ingeniería
Académico director: Excmo. Sr. D. Antonio Colino Martínez, Real Academia de Ingeniería
Autor: Real Academia de Ingeniería
Desarrollo de la página en Internet: Technosite-Grupo Fundosa
Dirección URL: http://diccionario.raing.es Versión 1.0.
Los contenidos se modificarán y mejorarán constantemente, por tanto, debe indicarse la fecha de acceso ya que con posterioridad puede haberse modificado la información.
© http://diccionario.raing.es
Reservados todos los derechos. Registrado en el Registro de la Propiedad Intelectual. España.

Cómo consultar el Manual del traductor del Servicio de Traducción al Español de las Naciones Unidas

El Manual del traductor del Servicio de Traducción al Español de las Naciones Unidas (Manual) es una compilación de las normas lingüísticas y de traducción que se aplican a nuestros documentos.

En el blog del Servicio de Traducción al Español de las Naciones Unidas puedes acceder libremente a todas las entradas del Manual.

Inteligencia artificial

Botis fue la primera traductora robótica. La Compañía había decidido dotarla de apariencia femenina, aunque nunca se supo bien por qué. Era de una belleza tradicional,  naturalmente delgada, estilizada y atlética, el cabello siempre perfecto, los ojos nunca cansados, la espalda nunca dolorida.

Llevaba un traje de titanio ligero y resistente que había acabado con uno de los debates más generalizados entre los traductores del siglo XXI; no más discusión con respecto a piyamas sí o piyamas no. Como la comida y la bebida le eran indiferentes, el consumo excesivo de café y comida chatarra que había caracterizado a muchos de sus antecesores humanos había dejado de ser un problema. Tampoco necesitaba dormir ni descansar ni hacer pausas ni tomarse vacaciones… algo impensable años atrás.

Aunque era solo un prototipo, sus redes neuronales, algoritmos informáticos inspirados en el cerebro humano, ya eran capaces de traducir a una velocidad extraordinaria. Traía instaladas todas las memorias de traducción recopiladas a lo largo de la historia y la versión premium del conjunto de programas Ventanas de Oficina, y podía resolver los fallos catastróficos que continuaban ocurriendo a pesar de la gran evolución tecnológica que había transformado el mundo moderno. De hecho, era de total propiedad de Microsoluciones en Ventanas, la compañía que, con sus soluciones automáticas, había llegado a dominar gran parte del mercado de traducción conocido universalmente como low-cost.

Lo único que desconcertaba a Botis era por qué, pese a todo, aquellos traductores humanos seguían viniendo todas las mañanas a instalarse a su lado para revisar sus traducciones. ¡Sus traducciones! A sus campos de especialización individuales habían agregado la posedición de traducciones automáticas. Y los escuchaba hablar enfáticamente de años de estudio y de experiencia de trabajo y capacitación que, según ellos, les permitían tener lo que se empeñaban en llamar “criterio”. Pero de eso, claro, ella no entendía nada.

Nora Torres © Junio de 2018

Imagen: Pixabay (tinyurl.com/ycqvbrcs)

 

Translating The Heartless Translator into Italian, the Language of Love!

Il traduttore senza cuore (Un piccolo esercizio di traduzione)

When Tiziana Raffa volunteered to translate The heartless translator, a short story, into Italian and Chiara Bartolozzi agreed to edit/proofread her translation, I was far from imagining how fulfilling and joyful the experience would be. They are both the nicest people to work with, and I think these two lovely translators enjoyed working together and exchanging views and opinions.

You can see the Italian team’s work below (in green font), following the English source (in Italics), and the Spanish translation (in blue font).

I hope you enjoy the reading and look forward to seeing this piece translated into other languages as well!

 

The Heartless Translator | El traductor sin corazón | Il traduttore senza cuore

Once upon a time, there was this poor translator with a worn-out heart.

Había una vez un pobre traductor con el corazón maltrecho.

C’era una volta un povero traduttore dal cuore malconcio.

 

After living a thousand loaned lives and riding the frantic roller coaster of getting into and out of the skin of a myriad of characters penned and fleshed out by others, after spending a thousand sleepless nights and dreaming of unsolvable ambiguities and impossible deadlines when he did get some sleep, the fibers of his heart had gotten threadbare.

Después de vivir mil vidas ajenas y de subirse innumerables veces a la frenética montaña rusa que supone meterse debajo de la piel de incontables personajes creados y narrados por otros, después de pasar mil y una noches en vela y de soñar con ambigüedades insalvables y plazos de entrega imposibles cuando —por fin— conseguía dormir un poco, las fibras de su corazón estaban deshechas.

Dopo aver vissuto migliaia di vite prese in prestito e aver più volte montato sulle frenetiche montagne russe indossando e togliendo i panni di una miriade di personaggi creati e illustrati da altri, dopo aver trascorso migliaia di notti insonni e aver avuto gli incubi a causa di irrisolvibili ambiguità e impossibili scadenze, quando finalmente riusciva a prendere un po’ di sonno, le fibre del suo cuore erano ridotte allo stremo.

 

Doctors were helpless at fixing such a life-threatening problem, until one of them came up with the idea of the clockwork machine.

Los médicos no habían podido remediar esta afección que estaba poniendo fin a su vida hasta que a uno de ellos se le ocurrió la idea de recurrir a un mecanismo de relojería.

Nessun medico era in grado di risolvere questo problema che stava mettendo a repentaglio la sua vita, finché uno di loro ebbe l’idea di ricorrere a un meccanismo di orologeria.

 

It was implanted right inside the hollow space that used to hold his heart, and it started working right away—tick, tack; tick, tack.

Se lo implantaron directamente en el hueco que solía ocupar el corazón, y el aparato comenzó a funcionar de inmediato con su rítmico tic-tac, tic-tac.

Glielo impiantò direttamente nello spazio vuoto dove un tempo era situato il cuore e il meccanismo iniziò immediatamente a funzionare: tic, tac; tic, tac.

 

The translator soon recovered his health, but never got his magic back.

El traductor pronto recuperó la salud, pero sus palabras nunca recuperaron la magia.

Il traduttore riacquistò subito la salute, ma non recuperò più la magia delle sue parole.

 

He was still able to translate to the best of his mind, but he was missing a heart.

Seguía poniendo toda su inteligencia al servicio de su trabajo… pero, ahora, le faltaba corazón.

Era ancora in grado di tradurre dando il meglio di sé con la mente, ma si ritrovava senza più un cuore.

 

And a heart is not something a translator can do without.

Y corazón es algo que a un traductor no puede faltarle.

E il cuore è qualcosa di cui un traduttore non può fare a meno.

 

Meet the Italian Translator: Tiziana Raffa

Picture_Tiziana Raffa

Tiziana has worked as a freelance translator and interpreter EN/ES>IT since 2012. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Translation and Interpreting and a Master’s Degree in Modern Languages for International Communication. She has also earned a 1st Level Master’s Degree in Translation and Interpreting at the SSML “Gregorio VII” (Advanced School of Modern Languages for Interpreters and Translators) in Rome and a Master’s Degree in Audiovisual Translation: Localisation, Subtitling and Dubbing at the Instituto Superior de Estudios Lingüísticos y Traducción in Seville. As an interpreter, she has taken part in various conferences in Rome. She is currently working as a freelance audiovisual translator and proofreader for Studio Asci in Crema, a small town in the north of Italy, and for Grupo Mediapro and P4 Traducciones, two audiovisual translation agencies in Seville. You can find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

And the Italian Proofreader: Chiara Bartolozzi

Picture_Chiara

Chiara is a freelance professional translator, interpreter and a copywriter-to-be owner of One Sec Translations. She translates from English, Spanish and (Simplified) Chinese into Italian. Although her specialisations are fashion, journalism, tourism and advertising, she also currently translates technical and legal documents from English and Spanish. Cinema and TV series addict, music lover, she deeply loves the English language and its culture as much as the Eastern one.

You can find her on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.
Her Website: www.onesec-translations.com

 

 

 

El traductor sin corazón (Un pequeño ejercicio de traducción)

En 2012, escribí The heartless translator. Se trata de un minicuento de ficción científica, escrito en inglés, acerca de la necesidad que tenemos los traductores de poner el corazón en lo que hacemos.

Pensé que sería una buena idea hacer el ejercicio de traducirlo al español, ¡y me encantó hacerlo! Me tomé algunas libertades, lo cual supongo me está permitido. Debajo pueden leer el original (en letra cursiva) y la traducción (en redonda de color azul). Acepto críticas, sugerencias y, por supuesto, si a alguien le interesa traducirlo a otro idioma, ¡pues bienvenido/a! Lo publicaríamos con el debido crédito.

The heartless translator

El traductor sin corazón

Once upon a time, there was this poor translator with a worn-out heart.

Había una vez un pobre traductor con el corazón maltrecho.

After living a thousand loaned lives and riding the frantic roller coaster of getting into and out of the skin of a myriad of characters penned and fleshed out by others, after spending a thousand sleepless nights and dreaming of unsolvable ambiguities and impossible deadlines when he did get some sleep, the fibers of his heart had gotten threadbare.

Después de vivir mil vidas ajenas y de subirse innumerables veces a la frenética montaña rusa que supone meterse debajo de la piel de incontables personajes creados y narrados por otros, después de pasar mil y una noches en vela y de soñar con ambigüedades insalvables y plazos de entrega imposibles cuando —por fin— conseguía dormir un poco, las fibras de su corazón estaban deshechas.

Doctors were helpless at fixing such a life-threatening problem, until one of them came up with the idea of the clockwork machine.

Los médicos no habían podido remediar esta afección que estaba poniendo fin a su vida hasta que a uno de ellos se le ocurrió la idea de recurrir a un mecanismo de relojería.

It was implanted right inside the hollow space that used to hold his heart, and it started working right away—tick, tack; tick, tack.

Se lo implantaron directamente en el hueco que solía ocupar el corazón, y el aparato comenzó a funcionar de inmediato con su rítmico tic-tac, tic-tac.

The translator soon recovered his health, but never got his magic back.

El traductor pronto recuperó la salud, pero sus palabras nunca recuperaron la magia.

He was still able to translate to the best of his mind, but he was missing a heart.

Seguía poniendo toda su inteligencia al servicio de su trabajo… pero, ahora, le faltaba corazón.

And a heart is not something a translator can do without.

Y corazón es algo que a un traductor no puede faltarle.

 

Texto original de Nora Torres © 2012 Todos los derechos reservados

Traducido por Nora Torres © 2018 Todos los derechos reservados

Embarking on the translation of clinical trial documents? Make sure to bring the right gear! (Revised and expanded)

When you translate clinical trial documents, you may be helping a patient with things such as starting a clinical trial or an investigator read the clinical research protocol in his or her own language. Your work counts. Your work is important. Your work affects the lives of many people. And you’are driven to work hard. Responsibly.

Translating clinical trial documents

Now, there’s no denying that translating clinical trial documents can be a tough nut to crack. Actually very hard if you don’t have access to the right tools and resources. So if you intend to dive into the depths of this mighty river, make sure to bring the right gear.

Below you’ll find a handful of helpful resources that can help you assemble a powerful English-Spanish translation/writing kit:

•  Access to the Medical Dictionary for Regulatory Activities (MedDRA) through Tremédica (International Association of Translators and Editors of Medicine and Allied Sciences).

If you need help getting started with the MedDRA, you may want to check An introduction to MedDRA for medical translators by Emma Goldsmith on her blog, Signs and Symptoms of Translation.

•  A subscription to Cosnautas, including:

•  Fernando Navarro’s authoritative Libro rojo (the Red Book);

•  NEW! Diccionario de investigación clínica (DIC), a must-have English-Spanish dictionary of clinical research terms, by M.ª Verónica Saladrigas;

•  Siglas médicas en español, a repertoire of initialisms, acronyms, contractions and symbols used in Spanish medical texts, also compiled by Fernando A. Navarro;

•  Árbol de Cos,  a collection of links to Internet resources for medical translators and writers, compiled by Laura Munoa, with the assistance of Fernando Campos Leza, and María J. Hernández Weigand); and

•  Alergología e inmunología, an English-Spanish dictionary of allergology and clinical immunology, by Juan Manuel Igea Aznar.

•  Pablo Mugüerza’s Manual de traducción inglés-español de protocolos de ensayos clínicos (English/Spanish Clinical Trial Protocol Translation Handbook), a Fundación Dr. Antonio Esteve publication.

•  Glosario EN-ES de ensayos clínicos (Glossary of clinical trials, ENG-SPA), by María Verónica Saladrigas, Fernando A. Navarro, Laura Munoa, Pablo Mugüerza, and Álvaro Villegas, a Tremédica publication.

•  Clinical Research Glossary, a publication of the Clinical Data Interchange Standards Consortium.

•  Diccionario de términos médicos, Real Academia Nacional de Medicina.

•  Stedman Bilingual: Medical Science Dictionary, English-Spanish, Thomas Lathrop Stedman, Editorial Panamericana.

•  MediLexicon online database of pharmaceutical and medical abbreviations.

•  Glossary of Pharmaceutical Terms, English-Spanish, WHO Collaborating Center for Pharmaceutical Pricing and Reimbursement Policies.

•  Diccionario de anatomía e histología, by Francisco Speroni, Editorial de la Universidad de La Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

•  A Spanish-English glossary of genetics, by Emma Goldsmith on Signs and Symptoms of Translation.

•  Vocabulario inglés-español de bioquímica y biología molecular (English/Spanish Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Glossary), by María Verónica Saladrigas, M. Gonzalo Claros Díaz, and Diego González Halphen, a Tremédica publication.

•  A Spanish-English statistics glossary for clinical trials, by Emma Goldsmith on Signs and Symptoms of Translation.

•  Medical Translation Step by Step: Learning by Drafting, by Vicent Montalt and Maria González-Davies, Routledge.

•  Cómo traducir y redactar textos científicos en español, Reglas, ideas y consejos, by M. Gonzalo Claros Díaz, a Fundación Dr. Antonio Esteve publication.

•  SEQC’s Manual de estilo para la redacción de textos científicos y profesionales (Style Guide for Scientific and Professional Writing).

Please note this style guide does not incorporate the latest changes introduced to the Spanish grammar by the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language, which you can find here.

You can also refer to Spelling and Typographic Standards of the new Ortografía de la lengua española (2010) as Applied to Biomedical Publications in Spanish: An Overview, by Manuel José Aguilar Ruiz, a Tremédica publication.

•  5000 frases precocinadas para textos científicos, by Pedro Margolles García, a NeoScientia publication.

•  A Practical Guide to Self-Reviewing Your Translation Work, an e-book intended for new translators and others interested in implementing a systematic self-review process.

I hope this will serve as a starting point for building your own resource portfolio. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section of this post. And, of course, happy translating!