Artificial speech translation

By: Fiona Gilbert Riley

From The Guardian

“The idea of artificial speech translation has been around for a long time. Waibel, who is also a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, “sort of invented it. I proposed it at MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology] in 1978.” Douglas Adams sort of invented it around the same time too. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxyfeatured a life form called the Babel fish which, when placed in the ear, enabled a listener to understand any language in the universe. It came to represent one of those devices that technology enthusiasts dream of long before they become practically realisable, like portable voice communicators and TVs flat enough to hang on walls: a thing that ought to exist, and so one day surely will.”

“The systems currently available offer proof of the concept, but at this stage they seem to be regarded as eye-catching novelties rather than steps towards what Waibel calls “making a language-transparent society”.”

Discuss Communicative Functions and Linguistic Forms in Speech Interaction

By: Joel Pina Diaz

Leading phonetician, Klaus J. Kohler, invites you to discuss Communicative Functions and Linguistic Forms in Speech Interaction


Cambridge University Press has published the linguistic monograph Kohler, K. J. (2017). Communicative Functions and Linguistic Forms in Speech Interaction (Cambridge Studies in Linguistics 156). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

In this Blog I, the author, introduce it to you and draw your attention to its new scientific message for spoken-language research.

Let us begin with a couple of questions.

Are you interested in how speech communication works in human interaction?

Do you study speech forms as anchored in communicative functions?

If you are a phonetician or a linguist or a psychologist in speech recognition and understanding or a sociologist in speech communication and conversation analysis or a communications engineer your answer to both Polarity Questions should be positive, and I would express this expectation by combining these syntactic interrogatives with falling intonation in the spoken medium.

You aren’t interested?

You don’t study form in function?

in declarative syntactic structure, combined, when spoken, either with falling intonation in high register, or with a falling + high rising intonation contour. Both patterns pick up the negative answers to my preceding questions, expressing surprise at the negative answers and asking to reconsider them. The falling-rising pattern adds incredulity to surprise.

Interested in reading more? Read Chapter 1. Speech Communication in Human Interaction

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French is Alive and Well and (Even) Living in English

By: Jacques Saleh

For those interested in French-English interplay dynamics, here is an article I published in “A Propos” (the online magazine of the ATA’s French Division) a couple months ago.  It discusses the French pundits’ near paranoia about the French language eclipse in favor of English.  I argue in a tongue-in-cheek way that instead of worrying about this matter, those in the French community who worry about their language standing internationally should on the contrary partake of the English language triumphs, as French is in fact very much embedded in the English language and had a major contribution to modern English language inception and development…

Here is the link for those who are interested:

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Company accused of hiring humans to fake its AI simultaneous interpretation tools

By: Sandro Tomasi

Interpreter accuses leading voice recognition company of ripping off his work and disguising it as the efforts of artificial intelligence.

While a Japanese professor spoke in English at the conference on Thursday morning, a screen behind him showed both an English transcription of what he was saying, and what appeared to be a simultaneous translation into Chinese which was credited to iFlytek. Wang claims that the Chinese wasn’t a simultaneous translation, but was instead a transcription of an interpretation by himself and a fellow interpreter. “I was deeply disgusted,” Wang wrote in the letter.

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Language and Gender

By: Teresa Borges

A very interesting article by Agnes Callard, an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Chicago, published recently on The New York Times:

Being a physicist gives a person a certain standing in conversations that have something to do with physics. So why shouldn’t being a woman give me a certain standing in conversations that have something to do with gender?

Let’s distinguish two ways in which the expertise of a physicist might figure in a discussion of some question. First, it might allow her to introduce facts into the conversation that have bearing on the question. Call this, “informational standing.” Second, it might put her in a privileged position to manage the conversation: to determine who speaks when, how the question is pursued, when it counts as answered and so on. Call this, “managerial standing.” (…)

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Website Translation Provider Services to Remain Lucrative During 2019-2037

By: Andrea Capuselli

The ‘Website Translation Provider Services Market’ research report added by Market Study Report, LLC, provides a succinct analysis on the recent market trends. In addition, the report offers a thorough abstract on the statistics, market estimates and revenue forecasts, which further highlights its position in the industry, in tandem with the growth strategies adopted by leading industry players.

Read more here

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25th February 2020: “Translating Across Worlds” at Durham University

By: Andrea Capuselli

The French Research seminar, in collaboration with award-winning independent press Les Fugitives, is delighted to welcome francophone authors Ananda Devi and Colette Fellous to Durham University for a one-day event on translation, creativity, and intercultural politics.

This event is open to researchers, postgraduate and undergraduate students, and creative writing and translation professionals. Attendance is free, but space is limited, so please email Dr Amaleena Damlé, to register your interest for one or more of the sessions.

See the full announcement at Durham University’s site

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Court interpreters decline in Japan despite growing foreign defendants

By: Andrea Capuselli

The number of interpreters in Japanese courts has fallen in recent years despite growing trials of non-Japanese defendants, as the burden on them is heavy while remuneration is modest.

Read the full story in Kyodo News

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U.S. now using Google Translate to vet refugees applying for asylum

By: Andrea Capuselli

Story at a glance

  • The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is using machine translation to help determine whether people with family in the U.S. can resettle as refugees.
  • Experts say Google Translate and other machine translation tools are flawed, sometimes mis-translating words or phrases.
  • Translation programs also often misunderstand nuance and humor.
  • Facebook had to apologize when a Palestinian man’s “good morning” was translated as “hurt them.”

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The state of the linguist supply chain: a CSA report on translators and interpreters in 2020

By: Jared Tabor

In the second half of 2019,, Translators without Borders, and other organizations collaborated with Common Sense Advisory (CSA) on a survey directed at professional translators and interpreters. The information gathered in this survey, which was completed by over 7,000 professionals (most of them freelancers), was then used by CSA to build a report which covers a variety of areas, including demographics, behaviors, interaction with clients, income, technology, and trends and challenges being faced by today’s freelance language professional. The team is happy to be able to help distribute this report to those who may be interested.


Download The state of the linguist supply chain (pdf) »

Read The state of the linguist supply chain online »

Discuss this report » members can also read through periodic industry reports published by in the Translation industry reports section of the site (check under the Education tab, Knowledgebase).

The State of the Linguist Supply Chain is open access and available for distribution in its entirety, courtesy of CSA Research. To request use or distribution of portions of the report or graphics, contact CSA Research.

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Stringer pitches interpreter bank to provide more translation services citywide

By: Andrea Capuselli

Thousands of New Yorkers who speak a language other than English are being deprived of translation services for everything from legal proceedings to applications for city services, according to City Comptroller Scott Stringer.

The city’s fiscal watchdog says the situation is a supply-and-demand problem: too few translators are available for the 1.2 million New Yorkers who speak a language at home that’s spoken by fewer than 100,000 (1%) of the city’s total population.

On Tuesday, Stringer announced that he’s asked Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson to consider an idea to close the translation gap: the creation of a Community Legal Interpreter Bank “to recruit, train and dispatch legal interpreters to legal services organizations across the city.”

Read the full story in

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‘Parasite’ subtitle translator: Comedies are a fun challenge

By: Andrea Capuselli

Darcy Paquet, an American movie critic who has lived in Korea for close to 20 years, wears many hats in the Korean film industry: critic, lecturer, author, translator, artistic director and part-time actor.

Most recently, he has grabbed the media spotlight as translator of the English subtitles for director Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite,” which won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival this year.

The black comedy delivers a specific kind of humor through its dialogue. Critics have praised the quality of the movie’s subtitles, saying they allow foreign audiences “to laugh in all the right places.”

Read the full feature in Korea.Net

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Controversy over mistranslation in interview with footballer

By: Sp and Fr to En

“The use of mistranslation to convey false meaning is a dangerous form of fake news which must be condemned and sanctioned,” said the club’s chief executive, Peter Lawwell.

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CTS Professionalisation Talks: Working in the Language Services Industry after MAAVTS (MA Audiovisual Translation Studies)

By: Andrea Capuselli
  • Date: Thursday 13 February 2020, 17:00 – 18:00
  • Location: Baines Wing SR (4.12)
  • Cost: Free
  • DownloadOutlook, iCal

Sara Santolini, Senior Project Manager, Voice & Script International discusses Working in the Language Services Industry after MAAVTS.

Find the full event information here

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Best in translation: 28 students win the EU ʻJuvenes Translatoresʼ award

By: Andrea Capuselli

The European Commission has today announced the 28 winners of the European Commission’s Juvenes Translatores translation contest for secondary schools. This year’s topic was what young people can do to help shape the future of Europe. The European Commission’s translators selected the winners from among 3,116 participants from schools across Europe.

Read the full press release here

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Lust in translation: how we fell for the people giving arthouse auteurs a voice

By: Andrea Capuselli

When Bong Joon-ho went on the Jimmy Fallon show, the Parasite director’s interpreter made viewers swoon – casting a light on the people who speak English for the likes of Michael Haneke and Park Chan-wook.

In every recent Bong Joon-ho Q&A and interview on YouTube, his translator gets praised over and over in the comments. There’s a lot saying she’s one of the best in the world. Major props.

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George Steiner, Prodigious Literary Critic, Dies at 90

By: Andrea Capuselli

George Steiner, a literary polymath and man of letters whose voluminous criticism often dealt with the paradox of literature’s moral power and its impotence in the face of an event like the Holocaust, died on Monday at his home in Cambridge, England. He was 90.

His many books include “Language and Silence: Essays on Language, Literature and the Inhuman” (1967), “In Bluebeard’s Castle: Some Notes Towards the Redefinition of Culture” (1971) and “After Babel: Aspects of Language and Translation” (1975).

Read the full profile on the New York Times

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Activists seek to stop Suffolk Downs project over concerns about language translations

By: Andrea Capuselli

“The BPDA was well aware that a significant percentage of East Boston residents speak primarily Spanish or Arabic,” said Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, executive director of Lawyers for Civil Rights. “By failing to hire interpreters versed in the language of planning or zoning, or to translate key documents, the BPDA is effectively excluding immigrant residents of East Boston from the development process.”

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4th International Conference on Language, Linguistics, Literature and Translation to Kick off on Thursday at SQU

By: Andrea Capuselli

Muscat, Feb.03 (ONA) —- The activities of the international conference 4th International Conference on Language, Linguistics, Literature and Translation: Exploring Cultural Intersections,” will start on Thursday at Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), under the patronage of Dr. Abdul-Munim bin Mansour al-Hasani, Minister of Information.

The conference will focus on the dynamics of culture and its representations in the fields of Language, Linguistics, Literature and Translation.  It aims to emphasize cultural intersections and explore ways in which such intersections could be conceptualized, critiqued or disrupted and ultimately reconstructed.

Find more at Oman News

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Noongar language reborn in Hecate, an Aboriginal translation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth at Perth Festival

By: Andrea Capuselli

Of all the ways to keep alive an ancient language, only spoken by a few hundred people, staging a Shakespearian play is not an obvious one.

But the timing of a new adaption and translation of Macbeth into Noongar by WA-born director Kylie Bracknell is sparking talk of a “renaissance” of the endangered WA Indigenous language.

The play, called Hecate and produced by Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company with Bell Shakespeare, will be performed by an all-Noongar cast at the Perth Festival [in February], with the aim of celebrating the language with Noongar people and promoting it to new audiences.

Key points:

  • Hecate is the play Macbeth, translated and performed in Noongar language
  • The adaptation is one of several efforts sparking a “renaissance” of the language
  • Many of the Aboriginal actors had to learn the language almost from scratch

Read the full story in ABC News Australia

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