Elanex Offers Free Translation and Translation Consulting to Hillary Clinton and the U.S. State Department to Prevent Future translation Blunders

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After a translation error overshadowed the substance of last Friday's meeting between US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lakrov, Elanex has offered a three-pronged approach to help Clinton and the State Department avoid future linguistic blunders.

There are indeed valid business purposes for machine translation

In an attempt to symbolize a "resetting" of the relationship between the two countries, Clinton presented Lavrov with a gift-wrapped red button, labeled "Reset" in English and "Peregruzka" in Russian. Unfortunately, "peregruzka" means "overcharged," or "overloaded." The correct Russian word for "reset" would have been "pereZAgruzka" or more precisely "перезагрузка" when written in Cyrillic.

The error could have easily been prevented in a number of ways, regardless of whether it resulted from relying on an unqualified human translator or an unchecked machine translation application, as was the case over a year ago when a group of Israeli journalists sent an embarrassing machine-translated email to a Dutch diplomat.

To prevent human translation errors, all translations should be completed by a trained translator who is a native speaker of the target language (in this case, Russian), not a native speaker of the source language (in this case, English). High-quality translation is never done by someone who is merely bilingual or happens to have access to a bilingual dictionary. Furthermore, the translator should have expertise in the subject being translated, and the translation should be reviewed and edited by at least one more professional linguist.

To prevent misuse of machine translation, it is essential to know when such systems should or should not be used. "There are indeed valid business purposes for machine translation," explains Adam Wooten, Elanex's Director of Automated Solutions. "In certain situations, the quality is sufficient, the expectations of the reader are appropriately set, and there is a clear need for speed or cost-effectiveness that would otherwise be humanly impossible. The State Department could have quickly determined that this was not the case last week if it had considered the following simple questions about the situation: how sensitive is the subject? How crucial is quality to the readers? Would volume, timing, or cost make human translation impossible?"

To help prevent the US State Department from getting proverbially "lost in translation" next time, Elanex is offering the following free services to Secretary Clinton:

  • High-quality human translation for the next high-profile gift to an international diplomat
  • Consulting on effective human translation processes and appropriate machine translation uses that would benefit the State Department
  • Training for Clinton's staff and State Department employees on appropriate business uses for machine translation

Elanex is also offering a free webinar titled "Business Situations for Machine Translation & Simple Steps to Get the Most from MT", open to the public on two dates.
CLICK HERE to sign up for the free translation webinar on Friday, March 20th at 10:00 AM PDT (1:00 PM EDT, 5:00 PM GMT).
CLICK HERE to sign up for the free translation webinar on Friday, March 27th at 9:00AM PDT (12:00 PM EDT, 4:00 PM GMT).

About Elanex:
Elanex is a global language services and solutions company that combines its own industry-leading technology solutions with its network of 30,000 linguists to provide top-quality translations at highly competitive prices. The company's 12 offices around the globe include its headquarters in San Francisco along with offices in Canada, Europe, Asia, and Australia. For more information about Elanex visit us at http://www.elanex.com.


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Adam Wooten
Elanex, Inc.
888-428-6488 ext. 6
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