Interpreting and the Computer – finally a happy couple?

This year’s 39th edition of the Translating and the Computer conference, which Barry Olsen quite rightly suggested renaming to Translating and Interpreting and the Computer :-), had a special focus on interpreting, so obviously I had to go to London again! And I was all the more looking forward to going there as – thanks to Alex Drechsel’s and Josh Goldsmith’s wonderful idea – I was going to be a panelist for the first time in my life (and you could tell by the   just how excited we all were about our panel, and the whole conference for that matter).

The panelists were (from left to right):
Joshua Goldsmith (EU and UN accredited freelance interpreter, teacher and researcher, Geneva)
Anja Rütten (EU and UN accredited AIIC freelance interpreter, teacher and researcher, Düsseldorf)
Alexander Drechsel (AIIC staff interpreter at the European Commission, Brussels – don’t miss Alex‘ report about Translating and the Computer 39 including lots of pictures of the event!)
Marcin Feder (Head of Interpreter​ Support and Training Unit at the European Parliament, Brussels)
Barry Slaughter Olsen (AIIC freelance interpreter, Associate Professor at the MIIS Monterey and Co-President of InterpretAmerica),
Danielle D’Hayer, our moderator (Associate Professor at London Metropolitan University)

If you have an hour to spare, here’s the complete audio recording (thanks for sharing, Alex!): „Live at TC39: New Frontiers in Interpreting Technology“ on Spreaker.

If I had to summarise the conference in one single word, it would be convergence. It appears to me from all the inspiring contributions I heard that finally things are starting to fall into place, converging towards supporting humans in doing their creative tasks and decision-making by sparing them the mechanical, stupid work. This obviously does not only apply to the small world of interpreting, but to many other professions, too. „It is not human against machine, but human plus mashine“, as Sarah Griffith Masson, Chair of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) and Senior Lecturer in Translation Studies at the University of Portsmouth, put it in her speech.

OK, this is easy to say on a conference called „Translating and the Computer“, where the audience is bound to be a bit on the nerdy side. And the truth is, Gloria Corpas Pastor, Professor of Translation and Interpreting of the University of Malaga, presented some slightly sobering results of her survey about the use of computers among translators and interpreters. It looks like interpreters are less technology-prone than translators, a fact that made most of us in the audience nodd knowingly. But no reason to be pessimistic, given the many interesting use cases presented at the conference, plus the efforts being made, for example, at the European Commission and Parliament to provide confererence interpreters with the tools they need for their information and knowledge management, as Alexander Drechsel and Marcin Feder reported.

So while for everyone who is not an interpreter, interpreters rather seem to be the frontier to be overcome by technology, the conference was all about new frontiers in interpreting in the sense of how technology can best be used in order to support interpreters and turn the relation between interpreters and computers into a symbiotic one. Here are the key ideas I personally took home from the conference:

Whatsappify translators‘ software

A question asked by several representative from international organisations like WIPO (who by the way have this wonderful online term database called WIPO pearl), EU, WTO and UN was what our ideal software support for the booth would look like. Unfortunately, the infallible information butler described back in 2003 has not become reality yet, but many things like intuitive searching and filtering, parallel reading/scrolling of documents in two languages, linking the term in its textual context to the entry in the term database have been around for twenty years in Translation Memory systems. Most international organisations have so many translation ressources that could be tapped if only the access to them were open and a bit more tailored to the needs of interpreters. Translators and interpreters could then benefit from each others work much more than they tend to do nowadays. Obviously, a lot could be gained by developing more interpreter-friendly user interfaces.

Which reminds me a bit of WhatsApp. People who wouldn’t go anywhere near a computer before and could hardly manage to receive, let alone write, an email, seem to have become heavy WhatsApp users with the arrival of smartphones. While good old emails have been offering pretty much the same functions AND don’t force you to use always the same device, it’s stupid WhatsApp that finally has turned electronic written communication into the normal thing to do, simply by being much more fashionable, intuitive and user-friendly. So maybe what we need is a „WhatsAppification“ of Translation Memory systems in order to make them more attractive (not to say less ugly, to quote Josh Goldsmith) to interpreters?

Making the connection between glossaries and documents

Clearly in the world of glossary or terminology management for simultaneous interpreting, of the nine interpreter-specific solutions I am aware of and had the honour to present in a workshop (thanks to everyone for showing up at 9 am!), InterpretBank and InterpretersHelp are the most forward-moving, ambitious and innovative ones. InterpretersHelp has just released a term extraction feature (to be tested soon) similar to that of Intragloss, i.e. you can add terms from parallel reference texts to your glossary easily. InterpretBank has even integrated a real term extraction feature similar to that of SketchEngine (also to be tested soon). If interpreters cannot be bothered to use translation memories after all, maybe that’s the way forward.

Automatic speech recognition reducing interpreters‘ listening effort

Claudio Fantinuoli from Germersheim presented InterpretBank’s latest beta function: It uses speech recognition to provide life transcription of the speech, extracts numbers, names and technical terms and displays them, the latter together with their target language equivalents from the glossary.  This is the impressive demo video giving a glimpse of what is technically feasible.


Although it has to be admitted that it was made in a controlled environment with the speaker pronouncing clearly and in Britsh English. But still, there is reason to hope for more!

There was a nice coincidence that struck me in this context: Recently, I conducted a case study (to be published in 2018) where I analysed interpreters‘ booth notes. In this study, numbers, acronyms (mostly names of organs or organisations) and difficult technical terms (mainly nouns) were the items most frecuently written down – and this is exactly what InterpretBank automatically highlights on the transcription screen.

What I have always liked about InterpretBank, by the way, is the fact that there is always science behind it. This time Bianca Prandi, doctoral student at the University of Germersheim, presented the research she plans on the cognitive load of using CAI or computer-assisted interpreting or CAI tools. I am really looking forward to hearing more of her work in the future.

The second speaker who showed a speech recognition function to support interpreters was keynote speaker Prof. Alexander Waibel – not a conference interpreter, for a change, but Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh and at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany (who even has his own Wikipedia entry). During his extremely interesting and entertaining speech about deep learning, neuronal mashine translation and speech recognition, he also presented a life transcript function to support interpreters in the booth.

Paper and electronic devices all becoming one thing

I very much enjoyed talking and listening to the two most tablet-savy conference interpreters I am aware of (doubling as my co-panelists), Alexander Drechsel and Josh Goldsmith. I find the idea of using a tablet for note-taking very enticing, even more so after having seen Josh’s demo. And I don’t agree that the only reason to replace paper by a tablet is to look better or “just to try it out”. Alex and Josh could name so many advantages (consulting a dictionary or glossary in parallel, adjusting the pen colour, not having to turn the pages of your block after every two sentences). The most obvious to me is that don’t have to be afraid of running out of paper, by the way. And luckily, Josh’s study now tells us which devices are best suited to interpreters‘ needs:

When we discussed the use of computers among interpreters and interpreting students in the panel, it was interesting to hear about the different experiences. Everyone seemed to agree that young interpreters or interpreting students, despite being „digital natives“ and computer-savvy (which most panelists agreed is a myth), cannot necessarily be expected to be able to manage their information and knowledge professionally. On the other hand, common practice seemed to differ from using paper, laptop computers, tablets or even doing relying completely on smartphonse for information management, like our wonderful panel moderator Danielle D’Hayer reported her students did. She seemed to me the perfect example of not „teaching“ the use of technologies, but just using them right from the beginning of the courses.

Remote everything: cloud-based online collaboration and distance interpreting

Although in the panel discussion not everyone seemd to share my experience, I think that team glossaries, nowadays more often than not created in Google Sheets, are about to become common practice in conference preparation. Apart from being great fun, it saves time, boosts team spirit, and improves the knowledge base of everyone involved. Not to mention the fact that it is device and operating system neutral. There is, however, a confidentiality problem when using sensible customer data, but this could be solved by using encrypted solutions like interpretershelp.com or airtable.com.

Now once we are all able to collaborate, prepare and get to know each other online, we seem to be perfectly prepared to work in simultaneous interpreting teams remotely, i.e. from different places. Luckily, the two most knowledgeable colleagues in remote interpreting I know of, Klaus Ziegler (AIIC freelance interpreter and chair of the AIIC technical committee) and Barry Olsen), were at the conference, too. There is so much to be said about this subject that it would fill several blog posts. My most important lessons were: Remote interpreting technologies don’t necessarily imply lower rates in interpreting. The sound quality of videoconferences via normal (private) phone lines is usually not sufficient for simultaneous interpreting. The use of videoconference interpreting seems to be much more widespread in the U.S. than it is in Europe. It is a good idea for conference interpreters‘ associations like AIIC to play an active role (as Klaus Ziegler is thankfully doing) in the development of technologies and standards.

Simultaneous and consecutive interpreting merging into simconsec

The last thing to be noted as converging thanks to modern technology is simultaneous and consecutive interpreting, i.e. using tablets and smartpens to record the original speech and replaying it while rendering the consecutive interpretation. Unfortunately, there was not time to talk about this in detail, but here is a one minute demo video to whet your appetite.

And last but not least: Thank you very much to Barry Olsen for the lovely live interview we had (not to be missed: the funny water moment)!

And of course: Spread the word about next year’s 40th anniversary of Translating and the Computer!

Impressions from Translating and the Computer 38

The 38th ‚Translating and the Computer‘ conference in London has just finished, and, as always, I take home a lot of inspiration. Here are my personal highlights:

  • Sketch Engine, a language corpus management and query system, offers loads of useful functions for conference preparation, like web-based (actually Bing-based) corpus-building, term extraction (the extraction results come with links to the corresponding text, the lists are exportable to common, reusable formats) and thesaurus-building. The one thing l liked most was the fact that if, for example, your clients have their websites in several languages, you can enter the urls of the different language versions and SketchEngine will download them, so that you can then use the texts a corpus. You might hear more about SketchEngine from me soon …
  • XTM, a translation memory system, offers parallel text alignment (like many others do) with the option of exporting the aligned texts into xls. This finally makes them reusable for those many interpreting colleagues who, for obvious reasons, do not have any translation memory system. And the best thing is, you can even re-export an amended version of this file back into the translation memory system for your translator colleagues to use. So if you interpret a meeting where a written agreement is being discussed in several language versions, you can provide the translators first hand with the amendments made in the meeting.
  • SDL Trados now offers an API and has an App Store. New hope for an interpreter-friendly user interface!

All in all, my theory that you just have to wait long enough for the language technology companies to develop something that suits conference interpreters‘ needs seems to materialise eventually. Also scientists and software providers alike were keen to stress that they really want to work with translators and interpreters in order to find out what they really need. The difficulty with conference interpreters seems to be that we are a very heterogeneous community with very different needs and preferences.

And then I had the honour to run a workshop on interpreters workflows and fees in the digital era (for some background information you may refer to The future of Interpreting & Translating – Professional Precariat or Digital Elite?). The idea was to go beyond the usual „digitalisation spoils prices and hampers continuous working relations“ but rather find ways to use digitalisation to our benefit and to boost good working relationships, quality and profitability. I was very happy to get some valuable input from practicioners as well as from several organisations‘ language services and scientists. What I took away were two main ideas: interface-building and quality rating.

Interface-building: By cooperating with the translation or documentation department of companies and organisations, quality and efficiency could be improved on both sides (translators providing extremely valuable and well-structured input for conference preparation and interpreters reporting back „from the field“). Which brings me back to the aforementioned positive outlook on the sofware side.

Quality rating: I noticed a contradiction which has never been so clear to me before. While we interpreters go on about the client having to value our high level of service provided and wanting to be paid well for quality, quality rating and evaluation still is a subject that is largely being avoided and that many of us feel uncomfortable with. On the other hand, some kind of quality rating is something clients sometimes are forced to rely on in order to justify paying for that (supposedly) expensive interpreter. I have no perfect solution for this, but I think it is worth some further thinking.

In general, there was a certain agreement that formalising interpreters‘ preparation work has its limitations. It is always about filling the very personal knowledge gaps of the individual (for a very particular conference setting), but that technologies can still be used to improve quality and keep up with the rapidly growing knowledge landscape around us.

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About the author:
Anja Rütten is a freelance conference interpreter for German (A), Spanish (B), English (C) and French (C) based in Düsseldorf, Germany. She has specialised in knowledge management since the mid-1990s.

 

Why not listen to football commentary in several languages? | Fußballspiele mehrsprachig verfolgen

+++ for English, see below +++ para español, aún más abajo +++

Ich weiß nicht, wie es Euch ergeht, aber wenn ich im Fernsehen ein Fußballspiel verfolge, frage ich mich mitunter, was jetzt wohl der Kommentator der anderen Mannschaft bzw. Nationalität dazu gerade sagt. Die Idee, (alternative) Fußballkommentare über das Internet zu streamen, hat sich zumindest im deutschsprachigen Raum bislang noch nicht so recht durchgesetzt, www.marcel-ist-reif.de hat den Dienst zumindest wieder eingestellt. In Spanien ist man da mit Tiempo de Juego besser dran, und dann gibt es noch talksport.com, was ich noch nicht ausprobiert habe. Aber eine andere durchaus praktikable Alternative, um simultan neben der eigentlichen TV-Übertragung andere Kommentare aus nahezu aller Herren Länder zu hören, bietet ja das Smartphone (wer auch sonst) mit einer entsprechenden Radio-App (mein Favorit für Android ist Radio.fm). So habe ich dann kürzlich beim EM-Gruppenspiel Schweden gegen Belgien einfach über den Kopfhörer parallel zur deutschen TV-Übertragung im belgischen Radio mitgehört – und das war durchaus amüsant! Zeitweise war ich mir nicht sicher, ob der deutsche und der belgische Kommentator das gleiche Spiel sahen, aber die Hintergrundgeräusche aus dem Stadion (im Radio immer minimal verzögert) waren beruhigenderweise identisch. Also eine echte Empfehlung nicht nur für die, die sich nicht entscheiden können, zu welcher Mannschaft sie halten sollen. Und nun hoffe ich natürlich umso mehr auf ein Viertelfinale Deutschland – Spanien!

+++ English version +++

I don’t know about you, but when I watch football on TV, I often wonder what the other team’s/country’s commentator might be saying right now. If you want to listen to Spanish commentary in parallel, you are lucky, as there is Tiempo de Juego streaming football commentary via browser, Android and iOS app. There is http://talksport.com in English, which I have not tried yet. In Germany, however, the idea of streaming (alternative) football commentary over the internet has not quite made it so far (www.marcel-ist-reif.de have given up apparently), but another way of listening in to other commentaries of almost any country in the world is (guess what!) the good old smartphone, with those many radio streaming apps available. My favourite one for Android is Radio.fm, and I have just lately tuned into the Belgian radio while watching the European Championship match Sweden vs. Belgium on German TV. It was both fun and interesting, really. Sometimes I was not sure whether they were talking about the same match, but the background noise from the stadium (slightly delayed over the radio) told me they were indeed. So it is really worth a try, especially for those who cannot decide which team to support. And I’m now hoping all the more for a quarter final between Germany and Spain!

+++ versión española +++

No sé ustedes, pero yo, cuando veo un partido de fútbol en la tele, a veces me pregunto qué estará diciendo el comentarista del otro bando en ese momento. Esta idea de facilitar comentarios audio por medio de internet, casi no se usa en Alemania (en www.marcel-ist-reif.de ya dejaron de ofrecerlo). En España, ya van bastante mejor, con Tiempo de Juego se pueden escuchar los comentarios a través del navegador o usando una app (Android y iOS). En inglés existe talksport.com, todavía me falta probarlo. Pero también existe otra posibilidad muy práctica para escuchar comentarios de fútbol de casi todas partes del mundo y es (adivinen qué) el smartphone que con sus tantas apps transmite por internet un sinfín de radioemisoras del mundo entero (mi app favorita es Radio.fm). De este modo, hace poco, viendo el partido de la Eurocopa entre Suecia y Bélgica en la televisión, por medio de mi celular y los auriculares escuché en paralelo a los comentaristas de una radioemisora belga y me resultó súper divertido. A veces me surgían dudas de si realmente los comentaristas belgas y alemanes estaban viendo el mismo partido, pero el ruido del estadio era idéntico (con un pequeño desfase en la transmisión por radio), así que… todo bien. Realmente lo recomiendo, no sólo para aquellos que no saben a qué selección apoyar. ¡Y por ahora espero aún más los cuartos de final entre España y Alemania!

Für die guten Vorsätze: Webinare 2016 | For your New Year’s resolutions: Webinars in 2016

+++ These webinars are all in German. If you’d like something similar in Spanish or English, just let me know! +++

WEBINAR KURZÜBERBLICK TERMINOLOGIE

Für diejenigen, die sich in 90 Minuten einen Überblick über die Softwarelandschaft rund ums Terminologiemanagement für Konferenzdolmetscher verschaffen wollen, gibt es auch dieses Jahr wieder ein Webinar zusammen mit dem BDÜ am Mittwoch, 06.04.2016, 18:00 bis 19:30 Uhr.

Preis einschließlich MWSt. 59 € für Nicht-BDÜ-Mitglieder, 43 € für Mitglieder

Mehr Infos und Anmeldung unter: http://seminare.bdue.de/2985


VIERTEILIGE WEBINARREIHE WISSENSMANAGEMENT

Für diejenigen, die sich eingehender mit der Thematik Wissensmanagement beim Dolmetschen beschäftigen möchten, biete ich Anfang des Jahres in Zusammenarbeit mit der AIIC eine vierteilige Webinar-Reihe an.

INHALT:
– Konzeptionelle Grundlagen: Information vs. Wissen/Wissensarbeit/Wissensmanagement
– Terminologie als Teil des Wissensmanagements
– Welche Arbeitsweise bzw. welches Programm passt am besten zu mir?

TERMINE:
4 aufeinander aufbauende Blöcke à 60-90 Minuten, je 19:00-20:30 Uhr
Montag 18. Januar 2016
Dienstag 9. Februar 2016
Donnerstag 25. Februar 2016
Mittwoch 9. März 2016
Wer zu einem Termin nicht kann, hat die Möglichkeit, sich bis zu einer Woche später die Aufzeichnung anzusehen.

Preis pro Person: 120 EUR zzgl. MWSt.
Anmeldung hierfür und Fragen bitte direkt an ruetten@sprachmanagement.net

Zu Gast in Brüssel bei „Radio Alex“, auch bekannt als #LangFM

Diesen Monat war ich gemeinsam mit Leonie Wagener zu Gast in Brüssel an Alex Drechsel’s Podcast-Küchentisch. Sehr nett war’s – hier könnt Ihr reinhören: http://www.adrechsel.de/langfm/terminologie

+++ Seminarankündigung +++

Wer beim Hören Appetit auf mehr Wissens- oder Terminologiemanagement bekommt und vom Rheinland nicht allzu weit entfernt ist (oder den Weg dorthin nicht scheut), könnte vielleicht Spaß an einem der folgenden AIIC-Seminare (auch für Nicht-Mitglieder offen) haben:

I. Computereinsatz in der Dolmetschkabine und um die Dolmetschkabine herum – SPEZIELL FÜR EINSTEIGER
in Wassenberg oder Köln

Dieses Seminar ist auf fünf Teilnehmer beschränkt, um im kleinen Kreis auf die Grundlagen des Computereinsatzes eingehen zu können. Der Inhalt gestaltet sich rund um die vorab erfassten individuellen Fragen der Teilnehmer („Was viele nie zu fragen wagen“). Es ist ausdrücklich nicht auf Terminologieverwaltung beschränkt; es können auch allgemeine Themen wie Datei- und E-Mailablage, Skype, Twitter, GoogleDocs, Buchhaltung in Excel und alle möglichen anderen Fragen behandelt werden.

Kursgebühr ca. € 180,- pro Person
Mögliche Daten für den eintägigen Kurs:
14. November 2015 oder
21. November 2015 oder
05. Dezember 2015

Doodle-Umfrage zu den Terminen dieses Kurses (bitte in der Umfrage vollen Namen und Mailadresse angeben): http://doodle.com/poll/itkake57krgqvwar

II. Terminologiemanagement in der Dolmetschkabine
in Wassenberg oder Köln

Dieses Seminar richtet sich an praktizierende Konferenzdolmetscher, die sich gerne einen Überblick über die „herkömmlichen“ und neuen Tools am Markt verschaffen möchten. Die verschiedenen Programme werden vorgeführt, Schwerpunkt sind jeweils die Funktionen Schnellsuche, Sortier- und Filtern, Import und Export von eigenen Glossaren. Ein Überblick einschließlich Preisinfos und Links finden sich hier: www.termtools.dolmetscher-wissen-alles.de. Bei Bedarf kann auf die theoretischen Grundlagen von Informationsmanagement und Terminologieverwaltung eingegangen werden – die Wünsche der Teilnehmer werden vorher abgefragt.

Kursgebühr: € 900,00 geteilt durch die Anzahl der Teilnehmer
Mögliche Daten für den eintägigen Kurs:
14. November 2015 oder
21. November 2015 oder
05. Dezember 2015

Doodle-Umfrage zur Terminfindung (bitte in der Umfrage vollen Namen und Mailadresse angeben): http://doodle.com/poll/gt44n36hz3ngqi64

Webinar: Terminologieverwaltungstools für Konferenzdolmetscher am 28. April 2015

+++ This one comes in German only +++

Datum: 28.04.2015, 18:00 bis 19:30 Uhr

Dieses Webinar richtet sich an praktizierende Konferenzdolmetscher, die sich gerne einen Überblick über die am Markt verfügbaren Terminologietools verschaffen möchten. Dabei spielt es keine Rolle, ob Sie viel oder wenig Erfahrung mit dem Einsatz von Computern in der Kabine haben. Die unten genannten Programme werden live vorgeführt, Schwerpunkt sind jeweils die Funktionen Schnellsuche, Sortier- und Filtern, Import und Export von eigenen Glossaren. Auch auf die Alternative Microsoft-Excel und Microsoft-Access wird kurz eingegangen.

– Lookup (Christoph Stoll, Heidelberg)
– Interplex (Peter Sand, Geneva)
– InterpretBank (Claudio Fantinuoli, Germersheim)
– Terminus (Nils Wintringham, Zürich)
– Interpreters’ Help (Benoît Werner and Yann Plancqueel, Berlin, Paris)
– Glossary Assistant (Reg Martin, Switzerland)
– Flashterm.eu (Eisenrieth Dokumentations GmbH)

Weitere Infos und Anmeldung unter:

http://seminare.bdue.de/2690

Improved Reading Crash-Kurse für Dolmetscher in Berlin, München, Leipzig, Frankfurt, Karlsruhe, Kassel, Hannover

Improved Reading bietet eintägige Crash-Kurse für Dolmetscher an:
(for anyone who is interested in attending an Improved Reading course – in German)

Weitere Infos hier.

Preis: 169 EUR zzgl. MWSt.

Termine:

Berlin IR Training für Dolmetscher
Sa, 17.05.14 – Mo, 19.05.14 09:00 – 17:00

Karlsruhe IR Training für Dolmetscher
Mo, 19.05.14 09:30 – 17:30

Hannover IR Training für Dolmetscher
Sa, 31.05.14 09:30 – 17:30

Kassel IR Training für Dolmetscher
Sa, 28.06.14 09:30 – 17:30

München IR Training für Dolmetscher
So, 13.07.14 09:30 – 17:30

Leipzig IR Training für Dolmetscher
Sa, 30.08.14 09:00 – 17:00

Frankfurt IR Training für Dolmetscher
Sa, 30.08.14 09:30 – 17:30

Karlsruhe IR Training für Dolmetscher
Mo, 01.09.14 09:30 – 17:30

Berlin IR Training für Dolmetscher
Fr, 19.09.14 09:00 – 17:00

Hamburg IR Training für Dolmetscher
Sa, 27.09.14 09:30 – 17:30