Made in Europe: online translation resources you should know about

The European Parliament is the only directly-elected body of the European Union. The 754 Members of the European Parliament are there to represent you, the citizen. They are elected once every five years by voters right across the 27 Member States of the European Union on behalf of its 500 million citizens. (from European Parliament website)

I did not know much about the European Parliament until I received an email the other day from DGTRAD, the Directorate General for Translation of the European Parliament. DGTRAD is a unit that networks about 100 terminologists spread across the various language units in the European Union.

European Union legislation is drafted in 23 official languages. Translation is an integral part of the process of elaborating and adopting legal acts. Thousands of translators in the European institutions cover 506 language combinations, a mechanism which must be regularly brought into line with constantly evolving language-related issues. The main aims of DGTRAD are to facilitate terminology research and production.

The terminology research and the repositories which are the result of intensive work by DGTRAD are also used to improve the quality of the Machine Translation (MT) systems used by the EU. In 2011, the European Parliament’s translation units translated over 1.5 million pages in all languages. Renato Beninatto wrote an excellent post last month about MT in the EU which describes some of the work that the EU is doing in that field. Clearly MT is an important topic at the EU as the demand for translation services increases.

Here are some great online resources that are provided by the EU:

  • IATE (Interactive Terminology for Europe). This website incorporates all of the terminology databases of the EU’s translation services into one searchable resource. Provides online translation of terms across 24 languages.
  • The DGTRAD website provides a wide range of glossaries which can be useful to translators and anyone who is working with the EU.
  • Translation 2.0: Multilingual Terminology Search Engine
  • EMM News Explorer: major news stories in various languages including tools that allow comparing how the same events have been reported in different languages.

Fueled by the global economy, patent translation services are on the rise

Patent translation is currently one of the fastest growing and most active segments in the translation industry. It makes sense. As the economy is becoming more-and-more global, patent filing is on the rise and an increasing number of companies and inventors are filing for patent protection globally.

The significance of patent information has grown steadily with the creation of a global technology market reflected in a new record of 1.8 million patent filings worldwide in 2010. Despite the economic downturn, filings at the EPO increased again in 2011, to 243 000 (from EPO website)

So last week’s news about the Welocalize merger with patent translation company Park IP Translations should come as no surprise to anyone.  And I have a personal story about this as well. Last summer GTS received an invitation to bid on a RFP for one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world; the annual activity on this account is well over $1 Million. I spoke to some of my contacts at the large translation companies and asked if they would like to cooperate on a bid. One of the people I contacted was Welocalize CEO Smith Yewell. Smith responded by saying that he is not interested since Welocalize does not have experience in the field of patent translation. I think that this speaks highly of Smith, who chose to pass on a potentially lucrative opportunity and not risk entering grounds that he is not entirely familar with.

In other news:

WIPO RFP for professional patent translation services

The  World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is going to issue an RFP (Request for Proposal) for professional translation of WIPO patents in the near future.

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), one of the 16 specialized agencies of the United Nations (UN) system of organizations, is dedicated to promoting the use and protection of intellectual property throughout the world, including the administration of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). The Organization has its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

WIPO is about to issue a Call for Expression of Interest (EOI) for the Request for Proposal (RFP) N° PTD/12/003 for the provision of professional services for the translation of WIPO documents from English into one or more of the following languages: Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish.

Status of EPO/Google machine translation project

In November 2010 the EPO announced an agreement it had reached with Google to provide machine translation of EPO patents in about 28 languages. I had the opportunity to speak with EPO spokesman Mr. Oswald Schröder who provided some interesting information.

So far, EPOs Espacenet website provides MT of patents in 7 languages: English, German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish. These languages were expedited since the EPO had an existing rule-based MT system with loads of parallel corpora. Mr. Schröder anticipates that most of the EU languages will be ready on Espacenet by the end of 2012.

The EPO recently entered agreements with the Japanese and Chinese patent offices (see a recent press release about it here). The Japanese and Chinese patent offices are providing their translation corpora which will be used to train the Google system.

A similar written agreement has been reached with the Russian patent office. The agreement will be finalized soon. An agreement with the Korean patent office is close as well, but the appointment of a new Korean patent office commissioner is imminent and the agreement will be finalized by the new commissioner. Mr. Schröder anticipates that most of the non-EU languages will be ready on Espacenet by the end of 2013.

Over 10 man years have been invested in the EPO/Google MT project in the last year. The agreement is entirely non-commercial (which means that Google gets no money from the deal). According to Mr. Schröder, the EPO wants to make translation of global patents widespread and available so that people will be able to find relevant prior art from any country in the world. Mr. Schröder said that many companies sustain major financial damage (or go bankrupt) when they file for a patent, only to learn later that the same patent was already filed in another country (making the patent worthless). The EPO language project will help companies avoid those pitfalls. This interest is shared by many patent agencies in other countries, as proven by the recent agreements.

WIPO parallel patent translation corpus

The WIPO has made available 10 years of parallel English-French corpus of WIPO’s PCT applications (title and abstract) published between 1990 and 2010 in TMX format. Interesting. Jaap van der Meer, did you know about this?

Like a Virgin? Madonna stinks in Superbowl halftime show

I love football. And I love music. I am also quite fond of the Material Girl. But in the 2012 Superbowl? Madonna was just terrible.

The game itself was great and I thought that the better team won. But is was a nail-biting seesaw match which was decided in the game’s final moments.

But let’s talk about the halftime show. Recent years have brought us some amazing halftime shows by great rock and roll bands. The Rolling Stones and the Who were a bunch of guys in their 60s when they appeared in the Superbowl but both bands put on a great show. Everyone remembers U2′s appearance in the wake of the 9-11 tragedy when they showed all the names of the people who were killed in the terrorist attack. And who can forget Janet Jackson’s costume malfunction?

Janet Jackson

Which takes me to Madonna. Instead of letting her music speak for her, Madonna hid behind a mountain of kitschy pyrotechnic effects. She didn’t even perform! Instead she pre-recorded the songs and lip-synched them on stage. How phony is that? I don’t think that Madonna is too old. Like I said before, the Stones, McCartney and the Who were all much older than her when they performed at Superbowls. And Madonna can still dance like the devil. But isn’t being a musician about music, not just fancy lighting and stage affects? And shouldn’t a live music performance be just that? Live music by live performers? Madonna blew it, she failed to produce the goods. And it’s a shame because she had the biggest stage in the world to prove that she’s still got it.