People who rock the industry – Erik Hansson

It’s time for the  January 2013 interview! with Erik Hansson. Happy reading!

 Hi Erik! Tell us about you (your personal/professional background)

Thanks a lot for giving me the opportunity to take part in your interview series! I’m a Swedish native (born in the city of Lund in the southern part of Sweden) and have been living in Germany since 1991. The reason for moving to another country? Well, that’s an easy one: my German girlfriend. I guess I’m just one of the many who at a certain point in their life decide to take the leap and leave their home country.

As I have always been very interested in foreign countries, languages and cultures, I knew as far back as my early teens that I would probably live abroad later on in life. I had English and German at school, and finished my education with a three-year course at a technical college with a focus on electrotechnology. After having worked as an assembler and quality checker within the medical-technical industry (with a focus on audiometry and dialysis) for some years, it was time to take another path, so I signed up for a university program in political science. Definitely a fascinating subject.

What were the turning points in your career that got you where you are now?

One of my turning points was when I moved to Germany and more or less by chance got started as an English teacher for adults. Back in the beginning of the 1990s, there was a huge demand for English language trainers in different courses aimed at unemployed adults in the eastern part of Germany. Around 1994, I started to do my first translations from German into Swedish parallel with the English training courses. In 1999 I decided to leave the training sector and focus entirely on translations. Over the years, my clients who once had sent me Swedish translation work came back and asked if I could also provide translations into other languages. This was the start of my agency business. In the new millennium, I got more active on different professional portals which meant that I got in contact with many new colleagues. With today’s social media it has become even easier to build up networks with peers.

You studied political science. How does one go from this subject matter to software and technical translations?

Well, honestly, that’s a good question! In addition to my fascination for languages, I have always been interested in questions regarding politics, democracy, policy-making and governance. Certain sub-disciplines of political science intersect with ethnic minority rights. This also includes everybody’s right to communicate in their own mother tongue. For practical reasons, my soft spot for ethnic minority issues is quite peripheral during my daily work with technical documents to be translated from German into Swedish. Nevertheless, I’m still very fascinated by subjects such as minority languages and bilingualism.

Tell us about The WinTitus Software Project.

Around eight years ago I realized that I spent far too much time just on daily administration tasks at the office, such as updating the address data for clients, creating quotes, issuing invoices and keeping track of payments. Instead of handling all these data manually, i.e. having one directory for addresses, another one for quotes and a third one for invoices etc, I thought about a software solution for this. Together with a programmer we developed a tailor-made project management software.

Since we started using WinTitus in 2005 we have saved probably thousands of working hours – one of the basic features is a database where we store all of the relevant data for all of the partners we are interacting with (translators, agencies and end-clients). When creating a quote in a certain language pair, the database can suggest exactly those translators who offer this language pair and work in this particular field. Generating a quote takes less than a minute this way.

If the client accepts the quote, we can quickly convert the quote into a job and don’t need to enter all the data again. Once the job has been done and the translation has been delivered, we convert the job into an invoice – and you’re right, it only takes a second.

Apart from the quick processing, we can also easily keep track of payments. It’s always a nice feeling to know if a client has paid the last invoice due five weeks ago when they suddenly give you a call and ask for another quote. Getting a clear picture of the client’s payment behavior is only a mouse click away.

Together with the programmer we are constantly improving WinTitus and implementing new features, such as individually defined units for charging (per source word, line, page, hour etc). There is only a German interface of the program, but we do have plans for other languages.

You are a DVÜD founder member and member of the Advisory Board. What are your tasks and what does the DVÜD do?

When we founded the DVÜD in November 2011, our motivation was that we wanted to place a focus, different from that of existing professional organizations, on our work. We might have the same aims as similar organisations, but we want to take a different road and utilize the modern networking advantages that Web 2.0 technologies offer, and this is a vast field!

We are at the very beginning of our work, but are already the talk of the town within the translation sector in Germany. In our very first year we achieved a lot, such as launching the website and the DVÜD forum, offering free or discounted services from our partners (insurance companies, lawyers, tax consultants) and networking among colleagues. We also organize webinars on different subjects such as calculating translation services, generating quotes, negotiating with clients, integrating the standard DIN EN 15038 in daily translation work and many more topics. These webinars target young colleagues who have just finished their studies, career changers who originally worked in other business sectors, as well as experienced translators.

Our main objectives are to strengthen the professional status of translators and interpreters within the German economy and to explain our contribution to the export business. Another important objective is to lobby for decent rates for translation and interpreting services.

In our opinion, it’s very important to explain to freelance translators what they need to do to be successful in the market, and how they can act as convincing business people towards their clients, either agencies or end clients. Translators who don’t perceive themselves as business people can’t expect to be regarded as equals by their clients when it comes to negotiations about the rates. This is a key issue when negotiating with clients.

What is your take on MT and post-editing?


Sending off a tweet from Swedish Lapland – always on duty.

Even if we still laugh at the outcome of some machine translations, we have to keep in mind that this technology is constantly developing, and getting more sophisticated. MT is here to stay, whether we agree with it or not. However, it is also important to know that this technology will never be as reliable as human translations as it cannot be used for any text or subject, and cannot detect the language style which is suitable for a special target group.

In order to get an acceptable outcome, i.e. to only translate the gist of a text, the source text must be written in a so-called controlled language, i.e. standard phrases and vocabulary. It is not realistic to assume that a high number of documents in the future will be written in controlled language and thus be suitable for MT.

The main question however, once clients have realized that the outcome from MT is not good enough, is whether we as translators will have the courage to turn down post-editing jobs, or accept to pull the chestnuts out of the fire for clients who use MT. In many cases, just as much (if not more) effort is required to edit a bad translation as that required to translate the text all over again, and the outcome is very often mediocre compared to a new translation from scratch. Those who decide to get into the post-editing business have to know how to charge for their services.

What piece of advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?

Act as a professional translator and get specialized within clearly defined fields; don’t jump on every possible job. Join a professional organization which has a mentorship program for young translators. Keep your eyes wide open for different webinars which will bring you further in your profession. Attend translators’ gatherings and establish a network with other colleagues. Take part in discussions on social media.

In your opinion, what does the future of our profession look like?

Well, I am quite optimistic about the future. We alone are responsible for the path our profession will take. There will always be a demand for translators, but we need to raise the standards, i.e. do what is necessary when it comes to networking, marketing, attending webinars and learning how to sell our services at decent rates. In order to reach these rates, it is crucial that our clients understand what translation work really means, and what the consequences of using MT or less qualified translators could be. There is a lot of work to be done

 Erik, thanks a lot for your time!

Telehealth to Reach 1.8 Million Patients by 2017

Monday, 28 January 2013 – In 2012 there was estimated to be 308,000 patients remotely monitored by their healthcare provider for congestive heart failure (CHF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, hypertension and mental health conditions worldwide. The majority of these were post-acute patients who have been hospitalised and discharged. As healthcare providers seek to reduce readmission rates and track disease progression, telehealth is projected to reach 1.8 million patients worldwide by 2017, according to The World Market for Telehealth – An Analysis of Demand Dynamics – 2012, a new report from InMedica, part of IHS (NYSE: IHS).

In addition to post-acute patients, telehealth is also used to monitor ambulatory patients – those who have been diagnosed with a disease at an ambulatory care facility but have not been hospitalised. However, telehealth has a much larger penetration in post-acute care as compared to ambulatory care patients as the majority of patients are only considered for home monitoring following hospital discharge to prevent readmission. In the U.S., for example, 140,000 post-acute patients were estimated to have been monitored by telehealth in 2012, as compared to 80,000 ambulatory patients.

“A major challenge for telehealth, is for it to reach the wider population of ambulatory care patients. However, the clinical and economic outcomes for telehealth are more established for post-acute care patients. Indeed, even for post-acute care patients, telehealth is usually prescribed only in the most severe cases, and where patients have been hospitalised more than once in a year,” commented Theo Ahadome, senior analyst at InMedica.

CHF currently accounts for the majority of telehealth patients; in addition to being one of the largest cost-burdens for hospitalisation, the clinical outcomes of telehealth for CHF patients are most established. The number of telehealth patients with COPD is also projected to grow strongly as telehealth focus continues to expand to respiratory diseases. The successful results of the Whole System Demonstrator (WSD) program in the U.K. are serving as strong evidence-base for the benefits of telehealth for COPD patients. However, by 2017, Diabetes is forecast to account for the second largest share of telehealth patients, overtaking COPD. Home monitoring of glucose levels for diabetes patients is more established through personal glucose monitors. There is an increasing drive to integrate these monitors with telehealth systems, allowing care givers access to patient glucose data.

Over the next five years, InMedica identifies four main drivers of telehealth demand:

  • Federal-driven demand: Readmission penalties introduced by the U.S. Centre for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are driving providers to adopt telehealth as a means of reducing readmission penalties. Faced with increasing healthcare expenditure, other governments, including the U.K., France and China are also promoting telehealth as a long-term cost-saving measure.
  • Provider-driven demand: Healthcare providers want to use telehealth to increase ties to patients and improve quality of care. In many cases this is being done irrespective of the lack of a clear financial return on investment.
  • Payer-driven demand: Telehealth is also being increasingly used by insurance providers to increase their competitiveness and reduce in-patient pay-outs, by working directly with telehealth suppliers to monitor their patient base.
  • Patient-driven demand: There is currently very little demand from patients actively seeking out and requesting telehealth services from their payer or provider. Patient-driven demand is mostly limited to rural/non-metropolitan areas where there is a poor availability of clinics and physicians. As fitness awareness increases and consumers adopt personal devices to track their fitness, they will also increasingly seek professional devices to remotely track disease state.

About IHS
IHS (NYSE: IHS) is the leading source of information, insight and analytics in critical areas that shape today’s business landscape. Businesses and governments in more than 165 countries around the globe rely on the comprehensive content, expert independent analysis and flexible delivery methods of IHS to make high-impact decisions and develop strategies with speed and confidence. IHS has been in business since 1959 and became a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange in 2005. Headquartered in Englewood, Colorado, USA, IHS is committed to long-term, sustainable growth and employs more than 6,000 people in 31 countries around the world.

About InMedica
InMedica is the medical technology research division of IMS Research, the leading provider of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry. InMedica publish high quality, in-depth market research on key medical markets including Medical Imaging (such as ultrasound and x-ray equipment), Clinical Care Devices (such as patient monitors and infusion pumps), Consumer Medical Devices (such as blood-pressure monitors and heart-rate monitors), Healthcare IT (such as PACS and EMR) and Telehealth. We offer our clients global coverage of the medical electronics industry, as well as dedicated reports on high growth regions, such as China, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.

About IMS Research
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS (NYSE: IHS), is a leading supplier of market research and consultancy to over 2500 clients worldwide, including most of the world’s largest technology companies. Established in the UK in 1989, IMS Research now has dedicated analyst teams focused on the factory automation, automotive, communications, computer, consumer, display, financial & ID, LED & lighting, medical, power & energy, solar PV, smart grid and security markets. Currently publishing over 350 different syndicated report titles each year, these in-depth publications are used by major electronics and industrial companies to assess market trends, solve marketing problems, and improve the efficiency of their businesses.

Der Übersetzer im Zeitalter seiner technischen Reproduzierbarkeit

Guest post by Armin Mutscheller

Träumen Androiden von elektrischen Schafen? Diese Frage warf der amerikanische Schriftsteller Philip K. Dick in seinem 1968 erschienen Roman “Blade Runner” auf.[1] Vierzehn Jahre später diente dieser dem britischen Regisseur Ridley Scott als Vorlage für seinen gleichnamigen, kommerziell wenig erfolgreichen Hollywood-Film. Dass der Streifen dennoch Kultstatus erlangt hat, liegt wohl an der eigenartigen Faszination, die das Morbide in all seiner Tragik auf uns ausübt. Blade Runner ist die düstere Vision einer nicht allzu fernen Zukunft, in der die Menschen nur noch mittels ausgefeilter Tests von ihren selbst erschaffenen Untertanen, den “Replikanten”, unterschieden werden können. More human than human seien diese Androiden, so der Slogan der Tyrell Corporation, die das globale Monopol auf die Kunstwesen hat. So viel unberechenbare Menschlichkeit verlangt nach staatlicher Kontrolle, und deswegen gibt es als “Blade Runner” bezeichnete (menschliche) Polizisten, die aufrührerische Replikanten jagen, um sie “aus dem Verkehr zu ziehen” – ein unspektakulärer Euphemismus für “vernichten” oder “töten”, je nach Perspektive des Betrachters.

Trotz oder wegen zahlreicher Abweichungen von seinem literarischen Vorbild hat der Film die größere “Marktdurchdringung” und somit einen höheren Bekanntheitsgrad erreicht. Vermutlich kennen Sie also den Film, nicht jedoch das Buch. Das macht aber nichts, denn die Thematik und die Motive sind die Gleichen, lediglich einige Schlussfolgerungen in Bezug auf “Menschlichkeit” und “Künstlichkeit” scheinen sich zu widersprechen. Als Denkanstoß und Einstieg in Betrachtungen über künstliche Intelligenz, Macht und Zerfall taugen beide Werke gleichermaßen.

Wer beruflich zwischen Sprachen, Kulturen und Industrien übersetzt, fühlt sich von den in Blade Runner allgegenwärtigen, sprachlichen und ethnischen Durchdringungen irgendwie angesprochen. Als der Filmstoff geboren wurde, mitten im amerikanischen Annus horribilis 1968, war dies sicherlich auch als Kritik an der Gedankenlosigkeit zu verstehen, mit der man von den USA als einer Art “Schmelztiegel” sprach, dem melting pot of nations. In ihn sollten alle zugewanderten Kulturen einfließen – nachdem sie ihre Traditionen, Riten, Hautfarben und Sprachen abgelegt oder ausgeblendet hatten. Diese Phantasie hatte etwas Unterdrückerisches an sich, und sie war angesichts der Vielfalt eines multikulturellen und vielsprachigen Potpourris aus verschiedensten Ethnien nicht durchsetzbar. Integration braucht Identität, und es ist vor allem die Sprache als Krone der Kultur, über die Menschen sich identifizieren. Dies ist einer der Gründe, weshalb das Gesellschaftsbild in Blade Runner von einer solch erschreckenden Düsternis geprägt ist: Alles steuert einer Sprach- und Übersetzungslosigkeit entgegen, an deren Ende völliger Zerfall und Zerstörung stehen.

Blade Runner spielt mit dem aus der jüdischen Mystik entlehnten Bildnis vom “Bruch der Gefäße”, dem babylonischen Auseinanderstieben der Sprachen und ihrer als Umkehreffekt durch permanente Übersetzung hervorgerufenen Wiedervereinheitlichung, dem Tikkun[2]. Dass also die zerbrochenen Gefäße wieder heil werden, ist das Verdienst beständigen Übersetzens. Folgerichtig kennt die morbide Cyberwelt in Dicks Zukunftsvision nur noch eine Sprache: “Cityspeak”. Sie ist eine Melange aus Englisch, Spanisch, Deutsch, Dänisch, Japanisch und anderen Sprachen, die einst in unglaublicher Vielfalt existierten und ihrerseits Destillate aus anderen Sprachen und Dialekten darstellten. Die Aufgabe des Übersetzers ist in dieser Zukunftsvision hinfällig geworden. Der beängstigend hohe, himmelwärts strebende Turm der Tyrell Corporation lässt indes die Hoffnung auf einen baldigen Zusammenbruch des Systems und die Wiederherstellung von sprachlicher Vielfalt zu.

Was hat all dies mit unserer beruflichen Gegenwart zu tun? Eine ganze Menge, wie ich finde. In seinem 2008 erschienen Buch “Handwerk” prägt der amerikanische Soziologe und Arbeitstheoretiker Richard Sennett den Begriff des “Spiegelwerkzeugs”.[3] Dies sind Hilfsmittel, die in der modernen Arbeitswelt eingesetzt werden, um Arbeitsvorgänge einerseits zu beschleunigen und andererseits zu perfektionieren. “Spiegelwerkzeuge” nennt Sennett sie deshalb, weil sie als Spiegelbilder des Menschen wahrgenommen werden können. Unter Verweis auf die in “Blade Runner” rebellierenden Androiden unterscheidet Sennett zwischen zwei Arten von Spiegelwerkzeugen: Roboter und Replikanten. Ein Roboter ist ein Spiegelwerkzeug, das dem Menschen zeigt, wie er sein könnte, wenn seine ohnehin schon vorhandenen Fähigkeiten steigerungsfähig wären. Ein Roboter ist also eine Maschine, die mit unglaublicher Schnelligkeit ein Auto zusammensetzen, mit besonderer Gründlichkeit riesige Fensterfronten putzen oder mit äußerster Präzision ein Werkstück zuschneiden kann. Er übertrifft den Menschen über alle Maßen und leistet perfekte Arbeit. Ein Replikant hingegen ist ein Spiegelwerkzeug, das dem Menschen zeigt, wie er ist und wozu er eigentlich in der Lage sein sollte. Ein Herzschrittmacher, eine Dialysemaschine oder eine Überwachungskamera sind Replikanten. Letztere ahmen den Menschen nach, Roboter machen ihm etwas vor. Replikanten handeln menschlich, Roboter übermenschlich.

Übersetzer nutzen seit einem guten Vierteljahrhundert die Dienste von Robotern. Gemeint sind die Maschinen, deren Gedächtnisleistungen so phänomenal sind, dass sie uns jeden Satz, den wir im Laufe unseres Berufslebens je übersetzt haben, ohne merklichen Zeitverlust präsentieren und punktgenau in unseren Text einbauen können. Die uns in Bruchteilen von Sekunden sagen können, wie wir dieses oder jenes Wort in den unterschiedlichsten Kontexten verwendet haben und wie es um unsere Produktivleistung in der laufenden Woche bestellt ist. Translation Memory-Systeme sind Sennettsche Roboter par excellence, und man darf sich nicht durch den Umstand täuschen lassen, dass diese Kreaturen aus nichts weiter als einer Menge unsichtbarer, wenn auch wohlgeordneter und sehr diszipliniert auftretender Einsen und Nullen bestehen.

Auch die andere Kategorie der Spiegelwerkzeuge, die humanoiden Replikanten, sind in der schönen neuen Übersetzerwelt längst angekommen. Und wie ihre fiktiven Artgenossen in Blade Runner, sind sie vielen von uns ein Dorn im Auge. Wir lachen über ihre Arbeitsergebnisse, verweigern ihnen jede Zusammenarbeit und Zuneigung oder betrachten sie gar als Konkurrenten, gegen die es tunlichst vorzugehen gilt. Die maschinelle Übersetzung wurde nach unserem Ebenbild erschaffen und besitzt nun die Vermessenheit, uns einen Spiegel vorzuhalten, in dem wir alles andere als Perfektion erblicken. Das empfinden wir als Hohn und reagieren verärgert. Auch wissen wir, dass dieses infame Spiegelwerkzeug nicht uns Menschen dient, sondern der Translation Industry, einem Machtgefüge, das intellektuelle und kreative Arbeit zur technisch reproduzierbaren Handels- und Spekulationsware degradiert hat.

Allerdings stehen die Chancen, im Spiegel der maschinellen Übersetzung in naher Zukunft so etwas wie Ebenmaß und Schönheit wahrzunehmen, gar nicht mal so schlecht. Schon verbünden sich TMS[4]-Roboter mit MT[5]-Replikanten, um Produktivität ungeahnter Ausmaße auf Kosten handwerklicher Individualität zu erzielen. Schon spricht man vom “Humanübersetzer”, der den Spiegelwerkzeugen nur noch in einem Punkt dienlich ist: In der Perfektionierung ihrer Ergebnisse. Und genau hier verkehrt sich das, was Übersetzer mit handwerklicher Identität Jahrtausende lang als ihre Aufgabe betrachten durften, in ihr Gegenteil. Denn bisher waren es stets die “Humanübersetzer”, die unvollkommene, durch Unterschiedlichkeiten und “Inkonsistenzen” auffallende Arbeitsergebnisse erbrachten. Die Ungleichmäßigkeit des Resultats, die darin offenkundigen Spuren des Vergessens und gelegentliche lexikalische Varianz machten das von Menschenhand geschaffene Werk trotz und gerade wegen seiner Unzulänglichkeiten interessant, verliehen ihm Charakter. Perfekte Dinge sind selten spannend. Daher wird es immer Akteure brauchen, um den Resultaten der auf Perfektion ausgerichteten Spiegelwerkzeuge das nötige Quantum an Menschlichkeit einzuhauchen. Ob diese Aufgabe in Zukunft Übersetzern zufallen wird, ist paradoxerweise fraglich.

Einem Artikel der angesehenen Computerzeitschrift c’t zufolge, werden bereits seit über 20 Jahren journalistische Texte von Maschinen erzeugt.[6] Wetterberichte zum Beispiel, gerne auch mehrsprachig. Und Artikel über Sportveranstaltungen, mitsamt den dazugehörigen Spannungsbögen und dramaturgischen Ausschmückungen. Natural Language Generation (NLG) ist zum Betätigungsfeld einer eigenen, bereits über 300 Arten zählenden Gattung von Replikanten geworden, die auf so klangvolle Namen wie “DIOGENES”, “BABEL” oder “GameChanger” hören.[7] Die Zukunftsaussichten jener Replikanten sind rosig: Im genannten c’t-Artikel wird angehenden Sportjournalisten dazu geraten, die künstliche Konkurrenz im Auge zu behalten.

Solche Entwicklungen haben etwas zutiefst Verstörendes an sich. Schon liegt sie nämlich brach, die medientechnische Handhabungskompetenz, die wir uns eifrig angeeignet haben, um in der Translation Industry bestehen zu können. Es drängt sich die Vermutung auf, dass diese handwerklichen Fertigkeiten für sich alleine nur wenig zu unserem Fortbestand beitragen werden. Wir erkennen heute das Verschwinden unserer Unnachahmbarkeit und müssen sehen, wie wir damit umgehen wollen. Dass unsere Abschaffung voranschreitet, ist jedoch nicht den Scherben einer Amphore geschuldet, sondern unserer eigenen Sprachlosigkeit und Schicksalsergebenheit. Das epochale Regime der Spiegelwerkzeuge hat zwar begonnen und wir können es nicht stoppen, aber wir können und sollten dazu in Opposition treten.

Einen Lichtblick sehe ich: Das Berufsbild des Übersetzers ist mitnichten im Zerfall begriffen, sondern gewinnt zunehmend an Profil. Wir sind keine Wiederkäuer mehr, deren einzige Aufgabe bis vor wenigen Jahren noch darin Bestand, Texte abzugrasen und in übersetzter Form wieder auszuspucken. So etwas machen jetzt elektrische Schafe und andere Maschinen. Wir hingegen agieren zunehmend in Personalunion als IT-Administratoren, Berater, Buchhalter, Redakteure, Lektoren, Terminologen, Marketingleute, Qualitätsbeauftragte, Geschäftsvermittler, Projektmanager und Kommunikationsspezialisten. Dieses konsolidierte Profil gilt es weiter zu schärfen und nach außen zu tragen, damit wir unsere Arbeit zukünftig in Würde und Wertschätzung verrichten können. Und von den Übersetzungshändlern der Translation Industry, die mit perfektionsorientierten Werkzeugen zur “Qualitätssicherung” hantieren, wünsche ich mir ein Nachdenken über den Mangel an Lebendigkeit und Charakter, den solche Prozesse für den Liefergegenstand zur Folge haben. Niemand verlangt, sinnentstellende Fehler einfach durchgehen zu lassen. Wenn es jedoch nicht gelingt, das Charaktervolle und zutiefst Menschliche unseres Tuns erkennbar herauszustellen, wird in der Tat eine schon jetzt bedrohliche Allianz aus Robotern, Replikanten und Industriellen für die nächsten Jahrhunderte die Regeln diktieren, nach denen wir unserer Arbeit nachgehen sollen. Und das gilt nicht nur für Übersetzer.

Eingangs war von der Frage die Rede, ob Androiden von elektrischen Schafen träumen. Diese Frage ist geklärt: Sie tun es, und man kann ihnen dabei sogar zusehen. Das glauben Sie nicht? Unter finden Sie den lebenden Beweis.

Armin Mutscheller, Diplomübersetzer (BDÜ, tekom)
Armin Mutscheller und Kollegen bieten Fachübersetzungen, Softwarelokalisierung und Terminologie-Management für viele Sprachen an. Übersetzer (auch Studierende und Berufseinsteiger), Entscheider in der Industrie und andere fachlich Interessierte unterstützen wir durch technisch-organisatorische Beratung,Fortbildung und Seminare.

[1] Dick, Philip K. Blade Runner. Aus dem Amerikanischen übersetzt von Norbert Wölfl. (Titel der Originalausgabe von 1968: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?). Heyne Verlag 2002. ISBN-13: 978-3453217287

[2] Scholem, Gershom. Die jüdische Mystik in ihren Hauptströmungen. Suhrkamp Frankfurt 1967, S. 291-295

[3] Sennett, Richard. Handwerk. Aus dem Amerikanischen übersetzt von Michael Bischoff. (Titel der Originalausgabe: The Craftsman.) bloomsbury taschenbuch 2009. ISBN-13: 978-3833306327.

[4] Translation Memory System

[5] Machine Translation

[6] Marsiske, Dr. Hans-Arthur: “Schreib-Maschinen”. In: c’t Magazin für Computertechnik, 25/2012; Heise Zeitschriften Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, ISSN 0724-8679.

Surgeons May Use Hand Gestures to Manipulate MRI Images in OR

“Doctors may soon be using a system in the operating room that recognizes hand gestures as commands to tell a computer to browse and display medical images of the patient during a surgery.

Surgeons routinely need to review medical images and records during surgery, but stepping away from the operating table and touching a keyboard and mouse can delay the procedure and increase the risk of spreading infection-causing bacteria, said Juan Pablo Wachs, an assistant professor of industrial engineering at Purdue University.

“One of the most ubiquitous pieces of equipment in U.S. surgical units is the computer workstation, which allows access to medical images before and during surgery,” he said. “However, computers and their peripherals are difficult to sterilize, and keyboards and mice have been found to be a source of contamination. Also, when nurses or assistants operate the keyboard for the surgeon, the process of conveying information accurately has proven cumbersome and inefficient since spoken dialogue can be time-consuming and leads to frustration and delays in the surgery.”

Researchers are creating a system that uses depth-sensing cameras and specialized algorithms to recognize hand gestures as commands to manipulate MRI images on a large display. Recent research to develop the algorithms has been led by doctoral student Mithun George Jacob”… Read more

Read the full article

7 myths in using Facebook for business (and in general)

amis-facebookRandom thoughts… 7 myths or mistakes you may be doing, without knowing it, on Facebook.

Myth 1: no, it is not possible to know who has seen your Facebook profile, so pleeeaaaaaase stop installing apps that claim the contrary and that post status updates to your profile calling your friends to install it. Really, please, stop.

Myth 2: no, sharing your tweets on your Facebook Profile/Page is not such a great idea. It is counterproductive and extremely annoying for anyone following you on Facebook. And for those following you on both: even worse. Facebook has a very different netiquette from Twitter. You don’t tweet on Facebook. You tweet on Twitter Same goes for “RTing” people on Facebook, by the way: huh?

Myth 3:  no, the copyright and privacy disclaimer that you have to post as a status to prevent FB from using your data is not for real. It’s a hoax, and it’s been ciruclating for months. Please, please, stop sharing it. (“In response to the new Facebook guidelines I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, comics, paintings, professional photos and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berner Convention). For commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times!(Anyone reading this can copy this text and paste it on their Facebook Wall. This will place them under protection of copyright laws. By the present communique, I notify Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, disseminate, or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and/or its contents. The aforementioned prohibited actions also apply to employees, students, agents and/or any staff under Facebook’s direction or control. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of my privacy is punished by law (UCC 1 1-308-308 1-103 and the Rome Statute).Facebook is now an open capital entity. All members are recommended to publish a notice like this, or if you prefer, you may copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement at least once, you will be tacitly allowing the use of elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in your profile status updates.”)

Myth 4: no, your professional contacts don’t care about your workout stats, so pleeeaaaase stop sharing the runtastic report of your latest run (or any other sport tracking app, for that matter) with said business contacts (your personal contacts are a complete other matter –  you do what you want, personal stuff is personal stuff. But there is personal stuff your business contacts really don’t need to see/read. No? )

Myth 5: no, the status update asking your Friends to hover over your name and change their settings so that friends of friends of friends don’t see what you like or post is a fake too. This is a hoax that has been circulating since May 2011. (“To all my FB friends, may I request you to please do something for me: I want to stay PRIVATELY connected with you. However, with the recent changes in FB, the public can now see activities in any wall. This happens when our friend hits “like” or “comment”, automatically, their friends would see our posts too. Unfortunately, we cannot change this setting by ourselves because Facebook has configured it this way. So I need your help. Only you can do this for me. PLEASE place your mouse over my name above (do not click), a window will appear, now move the mouse on “FRIENDS” (also without clicking), then down to “Settings”, click here and a list will appear. REMOVE the CHECK on “COMMENTS & LIKE” by clicking on it. By doing this, my activity amongst my friends and my family will no longer become public. Many thanks! Paste this on your wall so your contacts would follow suit too, that is, if you care about your privacy.”) – and similar ones, there are some variants of it.

Myth 6: no, Facebook will not become a paying service anytime soon, so please stop sharing hoaxes pretending otherwise…

And if you don’t believe me, see Facebook’s FAQ – Common Myths about Facebook.

Myth 7: no, your phone number is not accessible to anyone on Facebook. Unless you entered it yourself and made it public. So, the status update claiming “ALL THE PHONE NUMBERS IN YOUR PHONE… INCLUDING YOURS are now on FACEBOOK! go to the top right of the screen, click on ACCOUNT, click on EDIT FRIENDS, left side of screen and click CONTACTS. you will see all phone numbers from your phone are published that you have stored in your mobile phone. TO REMOVE, go to RIGHT column, click on “this page.” please repost this on your status, so your friends can remove their numbers and thus prevent abuse if they do not want them published.” is just a big hoax… and an old one, from 2010 or so.

There are many more! Which ones come to your mind?

“Conquering Babel”

“Simultaneous translation by computer is getting closer”
From The Economist, Jan 5th, 2013, Seattle – from the print edition

IN “STAR TREK”, a television series of the 1960s, no matter how far across the universe the Starship Enterprise travelled, any aliens it encountered would converse in fluent Californian English. It was explained that Captain Kirk and his crew wore tiny, computerised Universal Translators that could scan alien brainwaves and simultaneously convert their concepts into appropriate English words.

Science fiction, of course. But the best sci-fi has a habit of presaging fact. Many believe the flip-open communicators also seen in that first “Star Trek” series inspired the design of clamshell mobile phones. And, on a more sinister note, several armies and military-equipment firms are working on high-energy laser weapons that bear a striking resemblance to phasers. How long, then, before automatic simultaneous translation becomes the norm, and all those tedious language lessons at school are declared redundant?

Not, perhaps, as long as language teachers, interpreters and others who make their living from mutual incomprehension might like. A series of announcements over the past few months from sources as varied as mighty Microsoft and string-and-sealing-wax private inventors suggest that workable, if not yet perfect, simultaneous-translation devices are now close at hand.

Over the summer, Will Powell, an inventor in London, demonstrated a system that translates both sides of a conversation between English and Spanish speakers—if they are patient, and speak slowly. Each interlocutor wears a hands-free headset linked to a mobile phone, and sports special goggles that display the translated text like subtitles in a foreign film.

In November, NTT DoCoMo, the largest mobile-phone operator in Japan, introduced a service that translates phone calls between Japanese and English, Chinese or Korean. Each party speaks consecutively, with the firm’s computers eavesdropping and translating his words in a matter of seconds. The result is then spoken in a man’s or woman’s voice, as appropriate.

Microsoft’s contribution is perhaps the most beguiling. When Rick Rashid, the firm’s chief research officer, spoke in English at a conference in Tianjin in October, his peroration was translated live into Mandarin, appearing first as subtitles on overhead video screens, and then as a computer-generated voice. Remarkably, the Chinese version of Mr Rashid’s speech shared the characteristic tones and inflections of his own voice.


Though the three systems are quite different, each faces the same problems. The first challenge is to recognise and digitise speech. In the past, speech-recognition software has parsed what is being said into its constituent sounds, known as phonemes. There are around 25 of these in Mandarin, 40 in English and over 100 in some African languages. Statistical speech models and a probabilistic technique called Gaussian mixture modelling are then used to identify each phoneme, before reconstructing the original word. This is the technology most commonly found in the irritating voice-mail jails of companies’ telephone-answering systems. It works acceptably with a restricted vocabulary, but try anything more free-range and it mistakes at least one word in four.

The translator Mr Rashid demonstrated employs several improvements. For a start, it aims to identify not single phonemes but sequential triplets of them, known as senones. English has more than 9,000 of these. If they can be recognised, though, working out which words they are part of is far easier than would be the case starting with phonemes alone.

Microsoft’s senone identifier relies on deep neural networks, a mathematical technique inspired by the human brain. Such artificial networks are pieces of software composed of virtual neurons. Each neuron weighs the strengths of incoming signals from its neighbours and send outputs based on those to other neighbours, which then do the same thing. Such a network can be trained to match an input to an output by varying the strengths of the links between its component neurons.

One thing known for sure about real brains is that their neurons are arranged in layers. A deep neural network copies this arrangement. Microsoft’s has nine layers. The bottom one learns features of the processed sound waves of speech. The next layer learns combinations of those features, and so on up the stack, with more sophisticated correlations gradually emerging. The top layer makes a guess about which senone it thinks the system has heard. By using recorded libraries of speech with each senone tagged, the correct result can be fed back into the network, in order to improve its performance.

Microsoft’s researchers claim that their deep-neural-network translator makes at least a third fewer errors than traditional systems and in some cases mistakes as few as one word in eight. Google has also started using deep neural networks for speech recognition (although not yet translation) on its Android smartphones, and claims they have reduced errors by over 20%. Nuance, another provider of speech-recognition services, reports similar improvements. Deep neural networks can be computationally demanding, so most speech-recognition and translation software (including that from Microsoft, Google and Nuance) runs in the cloud, on powerful online servers accessible in turn by smartphones or home computers. (…)

Read the entire article here

Medical/Pharmaceutical Translations 2012-2013 Trends

Weather Vane with Dollar SignBack in January 2012, I made the following forecasts for 2012 compared with 2011.

  • A higher volume of work
  • An increase in rate levels for qualified translators
  • The social networks growing in significance
  • The specialised ‘tools of the trade’ are required as ever, but the definition of exchange formats and workflows needs to be driven ahead
  • Machine translation has yet to fulfil its promises
  • Translation associations should be looking at extending their range of educational and CPD facilities
  • Representing the interests of the translation profession must be reinforced

The original article is here (only available in German)

Now that the year 2012 has come to an end (and the world has survived – contrary to expectations in some quarters), it is worth considering to what extent these predictions have changed and whether indeed new and interesting trends have developed.

Volume of Work/Rate Levels

Here, we would benefit from data that are more topical and reliable. The first two statements for the medical/pharmaceutical sector are still applicable in my opinion; albeit based upon data from a small group of LSPs with which I maintain close contact in that respect. Nevertheless, I increasingly note suggestions in various blogs and forums that could lead one to conclude that the market should be substantially more dynamic than it is from my vantage point. I would like to see more information about the scope of orders and rates, since information like this could help us to identify seasonal and absolute trends. Using such data, it would be possible to react and the data would lessen the partly hysterical cries about sinking rates which – in my opinion – are certainly to the detriment of our profession.

Social Networks/Internet Culture

The social and professional network tools (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing and Google+) are becoming ever more important and the previous translation platforms (, Translatorscafe etc.) are suffering from increasingly less importance. This can be seen variously in the increasing number of translation groups e.g. on Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing, where more and more business is transacted and also in the range of CPD facilities being made available via these groups.  Professional associations such as the German BDÜ took their time to set foot onto the social networks but in the meantime, they have understood the significance and are presenting themselves professionally on these platforms.

Unfortunately this development does not just have positive aspects. As a freelancer, it is impossible to follow all groups within which interesting projects are posted and also as an LSP, it is becoming ever more difficult to find specialists for specific projects on the various platforms.

For this reason it will be necessary to develop aggregators that bundle the various offers. On Twitter, we have made a first step towards combining job offers from various sources by means of our @Translate_Jobs account. We also offer similar services to embrace news from the translation profession with @Translate_News, interesting blogs and events in the profession with @Translate_Blogs and @TranslateEvents.

These solutions are, however, limited by the facilities that Twitter offers, which is one of the reasons why we launched our Alexandria platform to cover the area of CPD opportunities.

Specialised Tools/Interoperability/Crowd and Cloud Services

In the field of interoperability, good things are happening as the two top dogs MemoQ and Trados benefit from ever more functions to improve interoperability between the individual programs. Here it only seems natural that recent weeks have seen massive criticism of the hermetically-sealed protected design of the across program. I am somewhat more cautious in this respect, since I thoroughly recognize the necessity for closed workflows and would prefer an appropriately optional functionality from other vendors. At the same time, I would naturally appreciate it should across deign to open up.

What I cannot, however, understand is how one can work as a translator with the cloud services that are springing up like mushrooms. This is a TM solution that can only bring disadvantages to the translator with a lack of their own TM, no traceability of tasks performed etc. etc.

Machine Translation

I would appreciate having a functional system, but unfortunately have yet to find one. There is nothing more to be said, other than the fact that I will keep my eyes open. What I find interesting are two aspects:

a) We translators are told more and more that there is a an enormous and ever-growing market for bad ( i.e. machine) translations. Well, that is fine for those who are happy to read dross, of which there is an appalling abundance on the Internet. The main problem as I see it is that the time will come when readers actually believe these to be bona fide translations.

b) At the same time, I hear that trained MT systems within limited domains and certain language pairs can produce results that are supposed to be better than those produced by human translators. But the decisive point is that so far, nobody has been capable of showing me such a system or its results. Last year, several MT vendors explained to me just how remarkable their systems were, but when push came to shove, I saw nothing convincing other than impressive statistics that were of no consequence whatsoever.

Now that I have set up Trados Studio with TMs including several millions of words and autosuggest dictionaries of up to 1 GB in size, I can reach a level of productivity where I can indeed ask myself to what extent I need MT for our language pairs and specialized areas.

Education and Continued Training

Here, there is something afoot. Germany’s BDÜ and DVÜD, as well as other providers, have significantly increased the range of their online CPD facilities. In fact at first glance, it might seem to be superfluous that we are entering the market with our own offering ( However, with the Alexandria Project, we do indeed have several objectives in mind. With it, we would like to create a central platform (by means of collaboration with as many vendors as possible e.g. Diléal and, upon which we can offer continued training and resources for new entrants to the profession and specialists within the various languages. In addition to that, we would like to offer specialists a platform that enables them to present themselves in order to improve their reputation in the profession and with future clients. Thirdly, we want to start using this platform as soon as possible to draw the attention of potential customers to the necessity of qualitatively acceptable translation, whilst attempting to educate them about how they can identify suitable language service providers, or rather what they themselves can contribute in order to achieve optimal results. In that department, we still ‘have the builders in’ but we shall soon be expanding what we have on offer. Feedback and suggestions will be very welcome indeed because Alexandria is – after all – intended to provide an interesting service to as many translators and customers as possible.

The Interests of the Translation Profession

So far, I was disappointed to observe that translation associations carry out too little to promote the profession externally in a way that generates interest. Translators and translation associations seem to be too occupied with themselves (i.e. with translation per se) and enter much too little into contact with possible customers, whose lack of information about translation, quality, processes and rates tends to lead them down into the depths frequented by the so-called ‘bottom feeders’. It would be laudable to see several national associations deciding upon closer cooperation with each other and being outwardly active in terms of customer education and representing the profession. A common European job portal of translation associations could help in this respect. Here, customers looking for translation service providers would at least have the reassurance that the translators fulfil certain minimal criteria of professionalism. This would draw attention away from the Internet platforms such as Proz and TC, where all the cut price vendors who often provide bad quality lurk, since customers seeking quality would finally have a qualitatively more valuable service at their disposal.


I am not sure to what extent much changed in the profession during 2012, but I see a careful trend for translators taking on more responsibility for their own fate and success and emancipating themselves from the clutches of major organisations and company groups. In 2013, this positive development can lead to a wider movement coming together that brings us forward as a profession. I will be delighted if we can make our contribution to that with Alexandria and Trikonf 2013.