Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Careers in languages – Part 2

Our blog of last month provided details about Careers in Languages, where knowledge of languages is essential. This month, we will cover other professions where knowledge of a language is considered as an added advantage. 

1.    Multilingual DTP

DTP means desktop publishing - Desktop publishers use computer software to design page layouts for newspapers, books, brochures, and other items that are printed or put online. When a document is bilingual or multilingual, it helps if the DTP programmer has knowledge in the other languages as well else he/she might inadvertently cut off words, or delete sentences! Language experts are specially called in to “proofread/edit” such work but if the DTP specialist knows the language concerned it saves time and cost!

2.    Multilingual SEO

SEO is search engine optimization - The process of promoting a website to the top rankings of Search Engines is called SEO and when it's happening on a multilingual site, we call it “multilingual SEO”. Multilingual SEO is part of Digital Marketing and requires much beyond knowing the language only – it also involves knowing the target culture,  internet behaviors of the regional population and the differences in dialects of different regions speaking the same language. There are other related profiles like content management, social media management, pay per click (PPC) like Google Ads, e-commerce, etc. Multilingual SEO consultants should know 3-4 languages and have expertise in programming, search engine optimization, social media marketing and sales.

3.    BPO support

Business Process Outsourcing, in short, is BPO. It is the sub-contracting of a business process or operation (mostly back office processes like customer care, call center, banking process, etc.). The requirement of language experts has grown leaps and bounds, not only for foreign languages but Indian regional languages like Bengali, Tamil, Malayalam, etc. Linguistic support is required for various jobs like data entry, voice calls, non-voice processes, management, banking, billing, chat process,  etc.

4.    Travel industry - Airport support staff (air host/hostess or ground host/hostess)

a.    Knowing a foreign language along with 2 Indian languages is a must for cabin crew (air steward and air hostess) and for ground crew (who take care of ticketing) and customer care.
b.    Linguistic licensed guides: The Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, grants licences to guides on a regional basis after fulfilling required conditions.  Those fluent in French, German, Spanish, Korean, Russian, Japanese, Thai, Arabic, Hungarian, Polish, Hebrew and Chinese, as identified by the Ministry from time to time are approved under this category. Aspirant should be graduate from a recognized university, and have knowledge and fluency in a foreign language (besides English). Such licenses are provided on a state and national level
c.    Working in travel agencies for booking or as Tour Operator: There are various boutique agencies which cater to specific countries and niche areas like Indian culture/culinary/adventure trips which require persons knowing those specific languages 
d.    Logistics officers, holiday consultant, staff in cruises, hotels, etc. all require some foreign language knowledge

5.    Diplomatic service abroad

An IFS officer, after having cleared his exams has to learn a compulsory foreign language after which he is posted to the country to which the langue is a native one. He/she then has to develop proficiency in the language and pass an examination so as to continue his services.

6.    Hospitality - Hotel Management

The history of French gastronomy (simply, the art and science of good eating) goes back centuries. Hotel management courses therefore always have a French language introductory course. It teaches you how to pronounce dish names correctly and is also helpful when learning how to make wines, spirits, cigars, etc.

7.    IT

IT has been the major game-changer for the Indian economy for about 2 decades now – considering the stricter visa norms in the US and market conditions, it is imperative for software companies to expand their business to non-English speaking countries. There is a massive requirement for foreign language speaking IT staff – in fact a perk of about 20% is offered to such candidates, as per an article published in Hindustan Times. Even coordinators or manager level staff need language skills to coordinate projects off shore. Current top 3 languages in demand for IT are Mandarin, Japanese and German, according to the same article. Of course, other languages have scope too, depending on the company one is working for!

8.    Management

Global MNCs and IT companies require managerial staff to know a foreign language native to the parent company. In fact, in most management colleges today, there exists a credit for foreign language too!

9.    Journalism

Journalism syllabus already has a focus on language skills. In addition, another Indian/foreign language is important since journalists regularly translate articles from other languages for their publications. Foreign correspondents can make use of their foreign language skills while reporting and hence it becomes a crucial skill for them.

Language skills come in very handy and promise a better future for those boasting of good linguistic command. Contact us today to know more about our crash-course training for various international languages.

Devaki Kunte, Language Services Bureau, Pune, India

Get in touch with us today at info@languageservicesbureau.com
Telephone: 91-20-65200559
Or, connect with us on Facebook or Linkedin!

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Careers in Languages

Advantages of learning a foreign language 

Knowledge of multiple languages is an asset, whichever domain one is working in. Thanks to globalization, increase in international trade, the internet and its all pervading reach, knowing a foreign language promises to be an edge during recruitment. 

By default, Indians are multilingual - they normally know their mother tongue (Regional language), Hindi (considered as national language, though all Indian languages enjoy equal status according to our constitution) and English (which is taught in school).  Most schools introduce foreign languages like French, German, Spanish, and now even Mandarin, around the age of 13-14 years.  
Therefore, for an Indian, learning a new language is not as difficult as for a monolingual person! 

Learning languages opens up new horizons, and a wide range of Careers in Languages, most of which are listed below in brief:

Major domains in which knowledge of languages is essential:

  • Translation - is communication of the meaning from one language into another. 

    1. Technical translation - Translation of technical documents like:
      1. manuals
      2. specifications
      3. guides
      4. standards
      5. drawings
      6. tender documents
      7. patents, etc.
    2. Commercial translation - while dealing with foreign companies, commercial translation is required for:
      1. Business Correspondence
      2. Agreements and Contracts
      3. Tender Documentation
      4. Insurance
      5. Reports
      6. Company Documentation
      7. Brochures
      8. Advertising Material, etc
    3. Legal translation - all paperwork required by law needs to be translated for transactions between companies or governments from different countries, and in even in courts of law. Common legal documents translated are:
      1. Contracts
      2. Affidavits
      3. Police reports, FIR
      4. Lawsuit documents
      5. Land deals
      6. Official documents like:
        1. Birth Certificate
        2. Marriage Certificate
        3. School/College Leaving Certificate
        4. Death Certificate
        5. Registration Certificate
        6. Ration card
        7. Degree and Diploma Certificates
    4. Scientific translation - to maximize the reach of new inventions, research papers and patents, they need to be translated from their source language, into the major world languages.
    5. Website translation - for businesses to grow in new markets, website localization is the first step. It is a proven fact that customers prefer their own language to any foreign/regional language while transacting online. 

  • Interpretation -can be simply explained as spoken language translation. These services are required for: 

    1. Conferences
    2. Seminars
    3. Meetings for negotiations
    4. Corporate visits
    5. Technical visits
    6. Tourists
    7. Market research meetings
    8. Audit meetings.                                                                                          There are 2 major types of interpretation:

    1. Consecutive interpretationthe interpreter waits for the end of the original sentence or statement to deliver the interpretation. 
    2. Simultaneous interpretation - interpreting the speech or message from the source language to target language simultaneously while the speech is going on. It is used for large gatherings (i.e. the speaker and the interpreter speak at the same time - the interpreter hears the speech through earphones and speaks through microphones, and the interpretation is heard on ear phones by the listeners). 

  • Language Training (individual/corporate) - Schools, colleges, universities, management and international trade institutes, multi-national companies, etc. require experienced and knowledgeable trainers for various languages, and this requirement is ever-increasing 
  • Content writing (for advertising material, websites, etc.) is typically creating content in a given language for the web, for ads, etc., such that the product/website/event etc. sells - the language is impressive and the reader is impressed on reading it, and unknowingly  develops a preference to it.   
  • Localization and internationalization (of products, websites, games, audio-visuals, etc.) Localisation, more than just translating the content, involves transforming a product, product information, commercial e-literature, etc. to suit a particular culture. This connects an organisation with the local end user. Eg. usage of some symbols or colors is considered a taboo in some markets. Similarly, Internationalizing products, services, websites and other text, that is, offering it in multilingual form widens its reach onto the international market.  
  • Technical writing - Technical writing is writing or drafting technical communication used in a variety of technical and occupational fields, such as computer hardware and software, engineering, chemistry, aeronautics, robotics, finance, medical, consumer electronics, and biotechnology. Along with the command on language, in-depth knowledge or at least study in the field is crucial for technical writing.
  • Blog writing Blogging in the simplest terms is expressing yourself online and spreading the word in any prospect you want to. Most business owners don't have the time to write blogs, and hence outsource the job of writing. Blogs are written in various fields like culinary blogs, travel blogs, technical blogs about products like bikes, mobiles, etc. This helps companies in their SEO activities, in developing communities and reaching new prospects.  
  • Multi-media (Dubbing, Sub-titling and Voice over) - Multimedia content is increasing leaps and bounds due to advances in technology. It is a much more popular medium than text and need for its localization is growing:

    1. Film dubbing
    2. Film scripts
    3. Recorded speeches from conferences
    4. Narration work for films
    5. Video tapes, slides, audio tapes in different foreign languages
    6. Company profile presentations
    7. Voice-over

  • Transcription - is the technique of listening to an audio or video and recording it in a text format.

We will continue this topic next month, by covering other professions where knowledge of a language is required or considered as an added advantage. 

Devaki Kunte,
Language Services Bureau

Monday, 20 November 2017

Professional Interpretation Services

High-Quality Interpretation

Language Services Bureau was proud to be associated with the World Skill Contest 2017 organized in Pune, in the first week of November by a major Automobile Manufacturer of India - we provided 14 interpreters for the contest and translated the question papers into 9 foreign languages for the written tests .. along with languages like Spanish, Arabic, Turkish, Nepali, Bangla, were rare languages like Khmer and Philipino .. to name a few! The interpreters facilitated communication between the examiners and candidates and helped them win different award categories!

We have often come across clients who require interpreters for their important meetings, audits, conferences or seminars .. however instead of approaching professionals, they hire their friends, colleagues, or even students to do the job!

The result is disastrous, to say the least!

Just like one can’t become a mathematician since one knows maths, or a scientist as one has learned science in school and college, similarly, just because a language is your mother tongue or as you have learned a foreign language, you don’t become qualified to do interpretation in that language!

If such people are hired for interpretation – there is either over-translation or under-translation – that means, the message is not communicated completely – it is either communicated with the extra information from interpreters or with omissions. Such misinterpretation can build up into one big misunderstanding or issues which are unpredictable in nature!

No communication is surely better than miscommunication!

In fact, in most countries where Interpretation is required frequently and recognized as a profession, there exist specific Codes of Ethics and Codes of Conduct for the professionals who adhere to it.


Several specializations exist in interpretation – Every specialization requires knowledge of the domain in which work is to be done, along with sound and solid knowledge of the two languages concerned.
  •          technical interpretation,
  •          medical interpretation
  •          legal/court interpretation
  •          conference interpretation (simultaneous)

Imagine a technical interpreter who doesn’t know what a camshaft is or what it is called in the target language!

Or medical interpreters who can help communicate neither the doctors’ instructions to the patient nor the patients’ complaints to the doctor properly!!

In the US or Europe, the respective Government tries to rope in interpreters for different communities which lack basic amenities and are fighting for their rights like refugees, etc. One misinterpreted message, and it can add to the miseries of the suffering people.
Imagine an international conference where multi-lingual interpretation is required. Once the main interpreter communicates what is being said in Spanish into English, the others interpret the message from English into various other languages. They will have to pass on an incorrect message if that is what comes through from the main Spanish-English interpreter!

It is therefore of paramount importance that the interpreters hired in all these circumstances are experienced professionals with knowledge of the specific field!

An Unorganized sector in India

The Language Industry is still not a formally pronounced and recognized Industry in India. Most people work as freelancers. Formal education in interpretation does not exist in most Indian languages, and at very few universities for foreign languages.  This leads to multiple problems for the end client:
  1. No shows – the interpreter doesn’t show up at the last minute, without any update nor replacement
  2. Timing issues – the interpreter shows up late, leaves early, takes leave without informing anybody
  3. Lack of language skills – the so-called “interpreter” doesn’t know the spoken language well or isn’t confident enough to speak it
  4.  Lack of specialized knowledge – the interpreter doesn’t know the topic well or hasn’t researched well.
  5. Lack of specialization – since this is not a formal industry, specialized interpreters are hard to find. The interpreters, therefore, have to prepare for every assignment depending on the domain and the requirements by asking for specific documentation/plans/agendas/drawings, etc. so as to be abreast with the discussions that will take place
  6.  Lack of professional conduct – Sometimes, wearing the right clothes or speaking clearly and professionally is a basic expectation but something that is not usually spoken and communicated. It could so happen that the interpreter doesn’t know his/her limits and tries to be over friendly with the people he is working with and either one of the two parties (client or his client) has to face embarrassing situations.
  7.  Lack of (good quality) interpretation equipment – it is imperative to use good quality equipment for simultaneous interpretation - a separate interpreter booth, high-quality audio system, headsets, Microphones of all types, Sound desks, Speaker consoles, Receivers and headsets, Public address equipment, Mobile equipment, etc. is an absolute must .. and without it, however experienced the interpreter is, the entire exercise of interpretation is a total waste!
  8.  Lack of fitness – apart from physical fitness since assignments can involve working 10 hours or more without many breaks, continuously moving around a factory or interpreting for meetings for even longer, talking continuously where mental fitness comes into the picture, sometimes the most crucial fitness can be hearing ability or ability to speak clearly!!
  9.  Ignorance about team interpreting – in simultaneous interpretation, for a requirement of more than 1-2 hours, team interpreting is required, so as to provide much-needed breaks to the interpreters involved. It is also required since both interpreters can support each other so as to not miss important data related to numbers, names, dates, and quite simply to correct in case something is incorrectly interpreted. Most clients don’t know about this or want to cut costs and not hire more than 1 interpreter for the whole day. This however adversely affects the interpretation quality.

Experience matters! At LSB, we have provided professional interpretation services at 

  • audits (for quality, Six Sigma or pharma industries),
  • conferences, 
  • meetings, 
  • technical training, 
  • technical meetings, 
  • technical repair and maintenance tasks on the shop floor, 
  • skill contests, 
  • seminars, 
  • new product development, 
  • at hospitals or courts, 
  • and more!! 

Trust us for your next interpretation requirement and get in touch with us for all your language requirements on info@languageservicesbureau.com!

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Website Localization - Part 3 - Localization strategies

Website localization – Key strategies to keep in mind:    

In this last article from the Website translation series, we present to you the key points to be borne in mind while planning to translate/localize your website. Localization is not only translation but also adaptation of the website according to the tastes and preferences of a given population, its culture and language.

1. Define keywords and plan Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

It is only after a website is translated that companies decide on multilingual SEO and thus website localization efforts become more complex and delays become a norm. This is a huge planning mistake.
Effective multilingual SEO requires team work with your web developers. Most important pitfalls are as follows:
a.    Keyword research – Even countries sharing the same language use different words to refer to the same thing. Terms like rubber vs eraser or lorry vs truck mean very different things in the US and the UK. Bottom line - Good keywords for the UK, France or Spain may not be successful in the US/Australia, Canada/Africa or some Latin American countries, even if it is the same language that is spoken at two locales.
b.    Different search engines in different regions - Google is the most used crawler in the West, but Yandex is the preferred search engine in Russia and it is becoming popular in other countries like Turkey. Baidu is indisputably the best search engine in China. Also, focusing your strategy only on Google may not give results for Yahoo or Bing. Yahoo is still a respected engine and service in Japan.
c.    Monitor search engine updates – All search engines improve and update their search results algorithms. Though rich content and friendly design are important and will not go out of fashion, some periodic SEO strategy updates are required to maintain your ranking healthy.

2. Make friends with the IT team 

You need to prepare the IT team from the start for the possibility that their code will need to be updated. The following potential problems need to be considered:
a.    how to display the default language in a localedisplay of content in a right-to-left layout, e.g. for Arabic, Persian, Urdu: making a mirror image of the existing website, such that the links, titles, text, paragraphs  and images are displayed in a right to left format
c.    space requirements needed to present the content in other languages- Remember that every language has a set of characters that occupy a different amount of space in a layout. If your first language is English and you want to localize a website for Germany, then you might be surprised that some words are quite long, even though both languages use Latin characters. Other languages occupy even less space than English, e.g. Chinese. Do the research to fit the content in the layout.
d.   display of special characters and choice of right encoding for them (such as UTF-8, UTF-16, etc.)- Almost every language in the world comes with its own set of special characters, such as unique letters and accents.
The problem arises if you are not prepared to display special characters. The characters could end up as weird symbols as a result and will undermine the quality, feel and effect of your website. Another culprit of mis-rendered special characters is custom fonts that are minified and embedded on websites. Use minified font to display user-generated content should be avoided; comments, for example, might come out wrong even though all other content on the website looks fine.
e.    display of first and last names in a culturally sensitive way: In Russian, a person's fathers name is used while addressing a person with respect. Hence, understanding cultural mannerisms and unwritten rules are of prime importance while localizing such content. 


Market-specific issues can be subtle yet make a lot of difference due to cultural sensitivities of your audience.
a.    Date format - In the US, dates are displayed as MM-DD-YYYY, whereas in most European and Asian countries the day precedes the month (DD-MM-YYYY).Imagine users in European countries who are accustomed to a certain format for picking a delivery date, shopping on an Arab website. If they don’t pay attention to the instructions (which mention that the week starts on Sunday), they might just click on the calendar and expect to see Monday first. Users might feel unhappy and feel misled in such cases (according to their cultural code). Holidays are also part of the calendar and could be confusing if the calendar does not show local holidays and vacations.
b.    Register or tone of your message - Some languages are more formal than others – e.g. an informal tone is almost taken for granted in English (especially in the US), and addressing your audience as Sir and Madam might sound a little weird. German, French and Japanese are quite the opposite. A familiar tone might seem rude to such audiences. Hence the importance of working with native language translators; ask them for advice on choosing the correct language register depending on your product and the relationship you wish to build with your clients/customers.
c.    Measurements –countries use various measurement units for the same measures – e.g. inch in the UK, India, but millimeters in the US, France. Localized versions of a website should show the right measurements corresponding to the countries/regions that you want to target.

4. MAKE IT EASY TO PAY on your e-commerce website!

If customers feel that paying for a product is hard or they don’t trust the payment provider, sales won’t happen! The most popular payment methods are popular only for certain markets.
Residents of some countries do not trust PayPal and will expect you to support locally popular payment methods, such as Wire transfer or Money bookers or Payoneer, Arab countries for example. Brazilians are accustomed to pay in installments and will expect to be offered that option. In the Netherlands, people are used to paying through a secure system, which redirects them to their own bank.

5. TEST YOUR IDEAS ON THE TARGET AUDIENCE before finalization of website

A website is like a living being. It needs to be continually developed to meet the public’s expectations and to deliver on your business goals. Remember to test your website on target users.
Audiences in different countries could be attracted to different things. Ask for feedback with a simple survey. You’d be surprised by the answers you get to just a few open questions. With this feedback, you will be able to adjust your content strategy and localize your website with even greater precision.

We are sure these pointers will be of help while beginning your website localization process .. do get in touch with Language Services Bureau for any support on the same!

Monday, 31 July 2017

Website Localisation part 2

Website and App localization 

The Indian Context

With a population of one and a quarter billion people, India, the largest democracy is home to nearly 30 languages which are in daily use. Yet the Indian Constitution and Law do not define an official national language. Most languages of India belong to the Indo-Aryan, Dravidian, Austro-Asiatic and Tibeto-Burman language families.

Considering the mobile penetration to the innermost pockets and villages of India, and the fact that only approximately 10-15%* Indians manage to barely understand or speak English in itself are eye openers about the dire need of localization and content creation in Indian languages. 

According to statistics released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (2013), the number of total mobile phone connections was approximately 860 million. However, millions of Indians did not list English as their primary language of communication and thus were limited in mobile usage due to language borders. 
The number of Indians owning mobile phones is more than the number of Indians owning a computer. In fine, localization is the key to new communities around the globe, especially in India.
Not just informative websites and government and company websites, but most importantly, the e-commerce website data needs localization. Though some companies have already started and are trying to make data available in major Indian languages, it is a humungous task! And companies are not aware of the complexities, rates, and processes involved in professional good quality localization. It’s the consumer who will need to drive this requirement though, as this twitter page clearly demonstrates: #ServeinMyLanguage 

Among the various challenges faced in localizing content in Indian languages, the below can be listed as some of the most important!

1.   Font issues – Lack of good quality, aesthetic and accurate fonts in Open Source format is a key concern. Most of the times DTP Software like Corel or Adobe Illustrator or Adobe FrameMaker do not work with Unicode and have problems with many TTF (True type) fonts too. Thanks to BIS’ mandate for all mobile phones to provide display in 22 Indian languages, reading Indian languages on electronic devices is getting closer to reality. However it needs to be noted that most of this technology has a basic flaw – one needs to know English to go to settings and choose the required language!! Thus it is the very purpose of providing multilingual support being defeated! Even though the phone language is local, most apps don’t support these languages and end up being in English!

2.   Technical terminology: Technology related content in India uses English language most of the time. The technology never existed in India before, hence the absence of the apt terms in the Indian languages! Internet sources are also almost non-existent for terminological research and hence the translator either has to use English words in his/her local language or coin new terms which risk not being understood by the reader! Most of the times, popular ads provide perfect guidance on the transliterate/translate dilemma! Sometimes it becomes very difficult to understand the local word since many English words are regularly used in the local languages too! E.g. Table

3.   Inadequacy of good quality translators and editors: this is especially true for rare languages like Assamese, Bodo, Dogri, etc. Most Indian universities do not offer graduate and post-graduate courses in Indian language translation. Therefore, anyone knowing the 2 languages can claim to be a “translator”. Translation between 2 Indian languages is a rarer scenario.. it is difficult to find good translators from Punjabi to Kannada, for example, and English has to be used as the intermediary language. In addition, Indian translators are either not aware of or cannot afford the CAT (Computer aided translation) tools, and thus translation agencies need to manage the translations in these tools on their own.

4.   Localization - Quality language localization is much more than just translating the content of a mobile application or website to another language. It involves the idiosyncratic social and cultural, regional nuances and sensitivities that help the consumer feel safe and secure with using or buying the business product or service.
In a nation like India where regions, dialects, states and cultures are rich in number, localization is essential because every Indian individual has a different set of preferences depending on all above variants. Typically, after translation, localization involves the following steps, to mention a few:
·         Adaptation of graphics to target markets
·         Modification of content to suit the tastes and consumption habits of concerned markets
·         Adaptation of design and layout to properly display translated text
·         Conversion to local requirements (such as currencies, decimals and units of measurement)
·         Usage of proper local formats for dates, addresses, and phone numbers
·         Addressing local regulations and legal requirements

We address all such requirements of website localization. Some of the special features of website localization services from Language Services Bureau include:
     ·         In-depth knowledge of the target language, culture, and the market due to which our website translation services generate a pleasant user experience and drive business results.
       ·         Website translation services in any format as per client requirements.
      ·        A specialized team of experts with up to date domain knowledge. (both in IT as well as in the subject matter of the website).

We have recently completed translation of the following websites into the languages as mentioned below.

http://www.jls-europe.de/- English into German, French, Spanish, Polish and Russian

We are proud and happy that our clients have seen an immediate jump in the number of inquiries from the target locales of these languages. So what are you waiting for? Get in touch with us today at info@languageservicesbureau.com

India ruling the App Market

India is one of the biggest players in the mobile app ecosystem. In terms of consumers and publishers, the country is among the leaders worldwide. We will deal with App localization in a separate blog in the upcoming months.
Written By Devaki Kunte