A Few Words

expressIt New Features and Updates

Posted by Cindy Dufty on Oct 13, 2015 9:30:00 AM

Elanex is pleased to announce new features and updates for expressIt, our self-serve high-quality professional translation service. expressIt provides all the depth, nuance and quality of the world's best human translators, delivered with unprecedented speed from our powerful automation technology.


expressIt now natively supports a broader variety of file formats. You can upload a PDF document and expressIt technology will determine if it is machine readable, or use advanced OCR technology to convert the scanned document into Word. This all happens automatically in the background, providing a seamless price quote and delivery options experience. expressIt also accepts .resx files, ideal for Agile developers needing to keep their Sprints on schedule. In addition to standard Office file formats (.docx, .xlsx, .pptx), expressIt also accepts legacy Office format documents. For users with .indd or any of hundreds of other file formats, expressIt will automatically route the request to Elanex’s global professional services team for a prompt, personal response.

Responding to demand from customers around the globe, expressIt also provides a number of currency options for credit card payment. In addition to USD, now YEN, GBP, EUR, AUD, and CAD are available to match budgeting requirements and avoid F/X charges. Corporate users can continue to receive monthly billing in a variety of currencies.

Other new features include ability to upload support documentation, such as existing glossaries, style guides, or even screen shots. Special delivery instructions, such as sending to multiple recipients, can also be specified. Our corporate clients can select and include their specific glossaries and style guides already stored in the Elanex system.

With expressIt, you can order high-quality professional translation online in minutes – just upload your documents and instantly receive a quotation with delivery options. No calls, no delays waiting for emails, your documents will be professionally translated faster than you expect for less than you thought possible. Try it at expressItnow.com!

Topics: Agile Translation, Announcements, Translation Tools, expressIt

Thanks for the Memories: The Many Benefits of Translation Memory

Posted by Troy Helm on Aug 5, 2015 4:05:00 PM

Understandably, occasional buyers of translation services may have misconceptions about what’s involved in a translation project. More often than not, they think of translation as a commodity. They shop around for the cheapest vendor, much like they do for office supplies.

Carpenter-Tools3It’s important to realize that translation isn’t a commodity. It’s a service. Who performs the service and the tools they use to do the job matter. Just as you would expect a skilled carpenter to use a hammer, drill, and square, there are certain tools you should expect your language service provider (LSP) to use. Translation memory (TM) is arguably one of the most important of those tools. And you should be wary of any LSP that doesn’t utilize it - you might be paying twice to translate the same sentence.

A Translation memory is a database that stores sentences, phrases, or other “segments” of text that have been previously translated by humans. These saved “translation units” are then automatically reused so a translator never has to translate a sentence more than once. The TM tool applies the translation memory to the source file (original material to be translated) to identify any 100% matches (identical segments) or fuzzy matches (similar segments). The translator can then accept the matches suggested by TM or override them with a new translation. Any new translated segments or updated segments are added to the TM for future re-use.

TM should not be confused with machine translation (MT) or glossaries. MT attempts to entirely replace the human translator with software; TM re-uses human translations. It is the translator using a TM tool who ultimately decides whether or not it is correct to use a match. Glossaries contain a list of approved terminology so that human translations are consistent and follow a defined style. They typically do not provide matches for segments of text. There are also tools to manage and use a glossary, and when combined with a TM and other tools are called a Translation Management System (TMS).

Using a TM provides many benefits that extend to both language service providers and translation buyers. Here’s how: 

  1. WatchandKeysSpeed. Think of translators as a scarce and valuable resource whose time should be used wisely. TM allows translators to concentrate on new material rather than wasting time on translating the same sentence over and over again. This is especially important when working with content such as a technical manual that stays consistent from year to year. Translation memory can save significant amounts of time in these cases by eliminating the time to re-translate entire sentences, paragraphs or pages.

  2. Cost. Translation is typically charged by the word. For example, if a document is 10,000 words and your LSP charges $0.15 per word, you will pay $1,500 to get the job done. But, let’s suppose the document is a revision to the technical manual from the point above. Chances are the bulk of the text is the same as the previous version. TM will already have those segments saved, meaning there are fewer words to actually translate. Of course, this also means that copywriters should not change acceptable sentences because they can, or the full benefit is lost. Anything that isn’t matched by TM will be translated.

  3. Consistency. Translation memory allows for greater consistency within a document and across a company’s content. The preferred way to translate certain phrases has already been approved so those translation units will remain the same across all documents, no matter which translator is working on the project.

Translation memory is one of the important tools that makes the difference in quality, speed, and cost of delivering professional translation work. A translation service provider that doesn’t talk to you about translation memory or doesn’t use it is not providing top-notch service or reasonable pricing. If you have an ongoing need for fast, accurate, and easy translation, it’s not something you should do without.

Topics: Translation Basics, Translation Tools

Elanex Case Study: Insightly Makes the Case for Agile Translation

Posted by Joe Dougherty on Feb 25, 2015 12:52:00 PM



Agile software development has become an increasingly common practice, especially among the new wave of tech startups. As opposed to traditional waterfall development with large releases and significant time between these releases, Agile development stresses continual updates and constant improvement. Anyone with a smartphone notices that his/her applications are now routinely updated. This fundamental change in development practices has significant implication on downstream processes, especially the translation of the user interface and instructions – localization – in comparison to historical practices. This case study highlights how close cooperation between the developer and a localization provider experienced in Agile development can keep pace with a constantly changing world.

The Company: 

Insightly is a simple to use yet powerful CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system for small and medium sized businesses worldwide. Businesses use Insightly’s cloud-based application to manage customer interactions, opportunities, proposals and projects over the web and on mobile devices. Insightly is available on the web at Insightly.com, for iOS devices in iTunes, and for Android devices on Google Play.

With integrations to Google Apps, Office 365, MailChimp and major social media sites; mobile apps for MCInsightlytablets and smart phones; and easy access to a REST API for custom integration, it is easy to see why Insightly is the top-ranked small-business CRM in the Google Apps Marketplace. Insightly is based in San Francisco.

The Problem:   

Insightly initially launched with an English-language platform.  However, as the company grew, through simple web analytics it realized that the majority of their users were not native English speakers -- 55 percent of Inslightly users were overseas. “Multiple languages weren’t part of the original plan but there was a pretty clear mandate [for them],” said Brian McConnell, director of localization at Insightly.

To capitalize upon this opportunity, Insightly raised an additional $10 million in venture capital to further expand globally and fund technical enhancements.  “Today we have over 750,000 users in 100 countries around the world,” said McConnell.


However, the company’s new mission brought a new set of challenges.  Insightly’s updates and releases now need to be available in half a dozen languages, across multiple platforms including their web and smartphone apps, technical documents and marketing website.  A new system was needed to keep the code base and production workflows in sync and to push out updates as quickly as possible (as many as two per week).
The Solution: 

Insightly decided centralization would be key to their localization efforts and enlisted the help of Transifex to manage the process.  Transifex is a cloud-based localization management tool that lets companies easily collect content from source control and automate workflows from a single platform.  The service also allows for easy communication between Insightly’s project managers and developers and the translation service team at Elanex.

Elanex was the natural translation partner for the company.  Not only is Elanex familiar with Agile germancontent development and constant flow production models, but it also understands software development itself.  “Elanex is interesting because it has lots of experience developing software internally,” said McConnell.  “They understand how software is developed and localized.”

As a result, Elanex has become more than just a vendor.  It is a partner in Insightly’s global mission.  Throughout this last year, Elanex provided best practices, helped debug issues, provided internationalization consulting on problems with date-formatting and language sorting all while consistently delivering fast and accurate translations.

“We have a process in place that works almost on autopilot,” said McConnell.  At the beginning of each week, Insightly uploads new and updated content to Transifex.  Elanex automatically receives those materials and processes them through its central production platform. Small update or large, the Elanex team returns professional translations in hours (4 to 36) depending upon the production requirements. french_(1)This includes the all-important In Context Review to make sure that localized content displays smoothly on all platforms. The translated content is automatically received by Insightly through Transifex, ready to be deployed to their customers around the world. The system works so smoothly that Insightly was able to scale up from 2 languages to 6 over the course of a few months without making any changes to production schedules.

Building on this success, for their support site Insightly selected Elanex’s VeriFast(sm) service to augment their translation needs.VeriFast(sm) uses professional native-language translators to review and correct large volumes of materials translated by state-of-the-art machine translation technology in virtually any language, providing quality and accuracy – in record time and cost-effectively.

“The work is as close to perfect as you can get,” said McConnell.  “Elanex knows how to build tools and has a great network of translators.”



Topics: Case Study, Agile Translation, Translation Tools

Glossaries: A Translator's Best Tool to Ensure Consistency and Quality

Posted by Jun Kurihara on Jan 7, 2015 11:54:00 AM

When it comes to customer concerns, speed is often at the top of the list. This is especially true for first-time or infrequent translation buyers. Often, translation is unplanned, and sometimes upstream production delays can create significant pressure to deliver the translated materials quickly. Regardless of cause, urgency to complete a translation project as fast as possible is the norm.

Since a single translator can translate only about 2,500 words – about 10 pages – per day, a very common practice is to divide the content and distribute the work across multiple translators. Having a team of Time_Zonestranslators working in different time zones (“following the sun”) keeps projects rolling 24 hours per day, effectively tripling daily throughput. 

However, having a team of translators working on a single project presents its own problems. The overall project may be completed faster but when the individual pieces are combined they may have issues with consistency. For example, one translator may translate prescription drugs into Spanish as medicamentos recetados while the second says medicamentos con receta and the third chooses medicamentos bajo receta médica. Each may be correct, but using all three in the same document affects the readability and perception of quality of the materials – it reads like a poor translation. It would be similarly confusing if this article mixed the terms “glossary,” “lexicon,” and “vocabulary” with no distinction or context. What’s the best way to prevent these types of problems before they happen?  The answer lies in the preparation of a glossary.

The Power of a Glossary

A good glossary is a translator’s best friend. With minimal effort to prepare, glossaries save both time and money in the long run and help ensure quality and consistency.

Because many quality issues involve the mistranslations of key words and technical concepts, good glossaries remove a significant source of possible translation issues before a project even begins. glossaries_HERO_FINALGlossaries answer questions about terms that are highly technical, have multiple translations or meanings, are vague or open to mistranslation, are non-translatable or require marketing input (e.g. tag lines, product names, etc.).

Glossaries do more than prevent mistranslation. They also help translation service providers understand their client’s communication preferences. With a clear understanding of preferred terms, translators can achieve the voice and tone a client is looking for. A child’s stuffed animal in the US is called a plush in England. Both are correct, but the glossary will give the client the opportunity to formally document which option is preferred.

Tips for Building a Glossary

Although translation service providers will do the bulk of the work, compiling a glossary requires a commitment from the client as well. Clients should identify native language stakeholders from each region to perform reviews, stakeholders who can set aside sufficient time to review and comment on the terms suggested by the service provider. Reviewers might be engineers, lawyers or doctors who decide on technical terms, or they might be from sales and marketing, deciding on words that affect the brand in their local markets.

When choosing which words to include, focus on those that are specific to your company and product instead of industry-standard phrases and terms. For example, if you build cars, you’d unlikely need to include the word “engine” in your translation glossary. You would, however, want to include a consistent translation for your patented “vehicle stability and traction control system” to protect its image abroad.

Glossaries should also contain any false or undesirable translations for a specific term. This includes terms that are not meant to be translated. For instance, Burger King has decided that “Whopper” is notTranslation translated on their Spanish-language menus. But the “Double Whopper” gets a slight tweak on Spanish-language menus with “Doble Whopper.”

As glossaries can eventually include thousands of terms and phrases, it’s important to make sure that your translation service provider has an automated integration of the glossary into the translation process. Translators will not necessarily always know when to check if a word or phrase has a glossary entry, and they can’t lose time looking up every word in a separate glossary document. Instead, the translation service provider should utilize technology that automatically tells the translator when the current word has a glossary entry. This fundamental level of automation ensures that the translator doesn’t waste time and never misses a glossary term.

Finally, it’s important to think of your glossary as a living document that must be maintained. Maintenance means adding, changing or deleting terms as necessary. Although compiling a glossary may seem like a chore, it really is a small up-front investment that will yield big returns. 


Topics: Best Business Practices, Resources, Translation Basics, Translation Tools

Machine Translation: Isn't there an app for that?

Posted by Elanex Marketing Team on Dec 10, 2014 11:19:00 AM

Digital, mobile, social, always-on, all-accessible world

When it comes to communicating, we have very few limitations. Thanks to technology, distance is no longer a challenge. Instead, the last barrier preventing us from connecting with anyone in this always-on, all-accessible world is the lack of a common language.  

But, of course, there is an app for that too.  The question is: Does it deliver?

Long before Google, linguists and computer scientists in the 50's searched for the Holy Grail of translation: english-indonesian_3software that could translate as well as humans. The software is known as Machine Translation (MT). While the power of automated translation can’t be denied, there’s a reason we haven’t retired the hundreds of thousands of professional freelance translators in the world.    

The Challenge: Comprehension vs. Communication

The current state of MT is “good enough” for comprehension in most major language pairs, especially those involving English and European languages. Today’s MT systems provide a good to very good idea of the meaning of the text. This is often called “gisting” – you get the gist or essence of the text. For this reason, MT is gaining acceptance for the translation of content that, due to the cost of professional translation, normally would not be translated at all - emails, blogs, user-generated content, etc. Many of the quick and easy translation apps and services use the power (and low cost) of MT in their products and services. However, there is a difference between comprehension and the ability to communicate in a foreign language. MT alone is not suitable for official communications, such as legal contracts or proposals, or for most customer-facing content such as company websites, user guides, technical manuals, etc. Unfortunately, for those unfamiliar with other languages (attention Americans), the naïve assumption is that MT systems provide a fluid translation and they blindly use free or low-cost MT services to translate important content. The easiest way to understand what a native speaker of your translation is reading is to machine translate something from another language into your own. You’ll see that while the translation may be understandable, it will not inspire confidence. More critically, due to the nuance of language, it may not even be accurate.

Rules vs. Statistics

In order to appreciate the capabilities of MT, it’s important to understand the two popular approaches to it: Rules vs. Statistics.

In rule-based MT, words are translated from one language to another following specific grammar rules. Government research agencies in particular have invested large sums chasing this method. But what about the exceptions inconveniently found in all language grammars? Programming a set of rules that completely define a language has proven to be impossible, and, as a result, rule-based MT so far has not achieved a broad level of acceptance.

In response to rule-based shortcomings, researchers invented systems that "learn" by analyzing large amounts of already translated text to create statistical probability models for how new text should be translated. These systems, known as statistical machine translation (SMT), have become very advanced in the last few years (Google Translate is a good example) but the results are highly variable. The results are greatly influenced by a) the size of the training corpora, or collection of aligned bilingual texts that the engine can use to “learn” from; and b) specific terminology (glossary) that further “tunes” the engine. Some companies have been very successful in using SMT systems for internal documentation when properly trained with previously translated materials specific to their company.

By combining MT with expert translators, large volumes of content can be quickly translated and verified by human eyes at about 4 times the speed of standard translation. Good quality MT translations can be "fixed" by human editors in a fraction of the time it would take them to translate from scratch, significantly lowering costs.

A Solution? Post-Editing

The drive to improve MT results involves what is called "post-editing," which consists of having professional translators edit the machine translation output. This is often called PEMT, for post-editing of machine translation. If the machine translation is of reasonable quality, this approach can significantly reduce time and cost. There are two views on how to use PEMT. One is to simply improve the translation to correct terminology and to make it more readable, not overly-focusing on grammar or writing style. This can produce readable translations at a fraction of the cost and speed of a standard translation. The other approach is to use intensive editing to reach human translation quality levels. The result is much better but the time and cost can reach those of human translation, depending on the complexity of the text being translated. An additional benefit of the latter approach is that the result can be fed back into the MT engine for tuning purposes, leading to continual improvements of future translations. Some companies have decided that the long-term benefit is worth keeping translation costs for PEMT at traditional human translation levels, knowing that one day they will receive large time and cost benefit. However neither approach works if the machine translation is poor to begin with. This can be understood by anyone that has tried to edit a very poorly written text. At some point, it is faster to start from scratch and the output is of higher quality. A translator that needs to post edit poor MT output would do better to simply start over. This is a very important consideration when evaluating a PEMT solution.

The Future of Translation Services

It’s hard to know what the future holds, but we are certainly seeing an increase in the use of MT in everyday communication. Translation is becoming a utility embedded in many devices and apps, helping to bring down language barriers in everyday interactions.

NTT DoCoMo’s JSpeak is one such example.  The mobile carrier’s app is helping tourists navigate Japan by instantly translating spoken Japanese into English or other languages and vice versa. The service MT1offers a preinstalled list of over 700 handy phrases for transportation, restaurants, hotels, shopping, hospitals and other common encounters.

Google is also helping globetrotters with its recent purchase of Word Lens. The app allows you to point your smartphone’s camera at simple text and have it immediately translated into your native language. The app, which can translate signs, menus and even books, replaces the words in the live view onscreen with their English equivalents.

Microsoft is also testing the MT waters with a new feature that instantaneously translates Skype conversations. The software provides an audio translation in a male or female voice of everything being said, plus an onscreen text transcript.

TAUS, the Translation Automation User Society, continues to highlight the necessity and demand for translation in all markets across all industries today, and it’s catching on. For example, in April 2014, the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) launched a Global Communication Plan to help create a multilingual speech translation system implemented across different sectors, such as medicine, tourism, finance and even disaster planning and prevention.

You might think this paints a bleak picture for human translators, but MT technology has a long way to go before it can fully replace professional human translation when accuracy and communication count. Moreover, use of MT has been shown to increase demand for professional services once companies learn the benefit of connecting with customers around the world in their own language. A recent report by Common Sense Advisory found consumers overwhelmingly prefer to make purchases in their mother tongue. While simple MT might help a business make itself understood, only a human can make the reader feel like you’re really speaking their language.

To learn more about Elanex’s PEMT solution, check out VeriFast(sm).

Topics: Machine Translation, Translation Basics, Translation Tools

Style Guides: The Importance of Consistency

Posted by Elanex Marketing Team on Oct 30, 2014 9:18:00 AM

Companies and organizations use standard style guides to set the rules on the look and feel of their content and design. These guides help marketers, copywriters, and graphic designers use the correct wording, colors and design elements to ensure brand uniformity.  For example, Skype requires that all print materials use the Chaletbook typeface, while Apple says its channel signatures may only be shown in all black or all white.  Articles printed in The Economist never carry a byline.

One might say that a style guide’s major purpose is to ensure consistency. We tend to agree.  Translation projects often require several translators working on a single project around the clock.  Each translator may have his or her own style resulting in differences between sections.  That’s why we recommend developing translation style guides before the start of any project.  Translation style guides set standards before translation begins, which helps companies save time and money.

 What Are Translation Style Guides?

Companies outline their stylistic and editorial preferences in translation style guides to effectively embody a company’s product or message for foreign audiences in targeted markets. Unlike ordinary style guides, translation style guides are implemented when businesses seek oversea ventures with the purpose of creating structure and uniformity and avoiding cultural clash.

When businesses begin to expand around the world, they strive to maintain the essence of their products. Global businesses like Coca-Cola use different slogans for different countries, but keep the same slogans for countries that share cultural similarities (Open happiness in the U.S and Canada; Destapa la felicidad inGuide1 Spain and Colombia; Abre a felicidade in Brazil and Portugal).  Translation style guides aid in the process of changing company slogans, campaigns, and branding to avoid cultural missteps. They create the structure necessary for editors to implement uniformity in foreign markets, while still altering it to appeal to the target foreign audience.

And it is here that translation style guides may play the most pivotal role.  Without a detailed translation style guide, translators may not actually understand who their intended audience is, resulting in “bad” translation.  For example, it may be appropriate to speak to the American guests of a luxury hotel in New York City in a conversational manner but Arab guests of the same chain in Saudi Arabia expect to be addressed in a formal manner.

How Are Translation Style Guides Created?

Global translation service providers create translation style guides by honing in on the editorial standards and goals of a company, while including the cultural and linguistic standards set by the target audience.

The complexity of translation makes creating a translation style guide difficult. To avoid this obstacle, translation services need to consider many areas of editing – stylistic preferences, foreign language linguistic standards, content translation, etc. – to optimize foreign communications.

The translation service providers must have a comprehensive understanding of the company’s goal in order to create an effective translation style guide. They must be aware of the components – tone, target guide2audience, etc. – that deliver company’s goals.  With the correct understanding and an effective translation style guide, global translation services can help alleviate the decision-making process and reduce revisal time – and ultimately cut costs in the long run.   

So before you start your next translation project, be sure to save yourself some headaches and make sure your translation service provider is clear on the following:

  • First or third person?
  • Gender specific?
  • Informal or Formal?
  • Purpose of materials?
  • Who is our audience and what do they expect/want?
  • Currency, date/time, units of measure conversions?
  • Required fonts?
  • Are there any items that do not require translation (brand names/trademarks/proper names/titles/websites, etc.)?
  • Are there specific terms, abbreviations or acronyms to be used?
  • Are there punctuation preferences?




Topics: Best Business Practices, Resources, Translation Basics, Translation Tools

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