Artificial Intelligence Learns From its Mistakes

It is well known that we all learn from our mistakes. All creatures from the animal kingdom answer a causality principle which forces them, by memory, reason or instinct, not to reproduce an error if they have already been subjected to a physical or psychological reprimand. Since this type of perception is specific to beings endowed with feelings and consciousness, it seems impossible to apply it to computers. But what about artificial intelligence ?


Nowadays, AI is not only limited to the recognition and processing of programs made to achieve a specific goal, one action at a time. In 1951, at the beginning of AI, a student from the University of Manchester created a machine capable of beating you hands down at the game of chess. This is an example among many others of primitive artificial intelligence, outstanding at the time, but quickly outdated by technical and scientific needs.

Through the years, scientists have discovered the need to revolutionize AI and decided to use the most logical example to leverage their advances : the human being. The tendency to make mistakes is thus an imperfection envied by machines. Current artificial intelligence systems are therefore capable of reproducing thoughts, a deductive mind and even reasoning in order to stock each piece of data into its own memory : an advanced learning process.

In the past machine translation software used to run with an algorithm splitting the whole text into fragments and then searching the meaning of these fragments in the memory. Depending on the language, the software would then adapt the structure of the fragments based on the grammatical rules of each language. But since the translation’s quality was not always perfect, online translation has recently been suited with a new advanced learning system, allowing the software to learn from its mistakes.

As an example, let’s take two languages intrinsically different : English and Japanese. Having encountered performance difficulties during a previous translation in this language combination, the software changes its strategy and chooses a “compromise” language. In this case, Korean acts as a bridge between two grammars that are too different. After a short analysis, the automated translation software first translates from Japanese to Korean, and then from Korean to English. It gets around the difficulty and improves the result.

By taking language as an example, we quickly understand how much modern AI learning, which imitates human reasoning, can become effective. We could think that the gap between AI and human beings is becoming smaller, but the non-mechanical mechanism of the human mind cannot be excluded from the equation. The nuances, the feelings, the cultural knowledge, etc. What makes humanity beautiful is the myriad of unsolvable enigmas that even the most powerful calculator,-let’s call it “computer”- could not solve.

Written by Gildas Mergny

Translated by Arthur Chevallier-Letort

Your Translation is all Chinese to me !

Translating for China, what a real headache ! China counts up to 81 dialects, 49 of which bear the same name as the ethnicity that uses it. The other 32 are named differently than their speakers’ ethnicity (for example, more than 90,000 Tibetans have the gyarong language as their mother tongue).


Linguistic distances between minor languages are largely more visible in the South of China than in the North, which makes communication harder for southern Chinese people. Those 81 dialects are strongly different from one another and this is why they are sorted into four large categories : Sino-Tibetan languages, Altaic languages, Austronesian languages, and Indo-European languages.

Sino-Tibetan languages

The Sino-Tibetan group clusters half of the dialects spoken in China. Those 40 languages are spread into four distinctive groups : Chinese, Tibeto-Burman languages, Kam-Tai languages, and Hmong-Mien languages. With 1.5 billion speakers, the Sino-Tibetan group represents the second largest linguistic family in speakers. Majorly spoken in China, this linguistic group extends to Nepal, Bhutan, India, Myanmar and Thailand.

Altaic languages

Altaic languages cluster 19 out of the 81 languages spoken in China. This linguistic group is named after the Altai Mountains, which cross through Central Asia, containing China, Russia, Mongolia and Kazakhstan. Altaic languages listed in China include the Turkish languages at 0.7 %, the Tungusic languages at 0.5 %, and the Mongolic languages at 0.32 %.

Austronesian languages

With just under 300 million speakers, Austronesian languages are part of one of the most geographically spread out linguistic families, second only to the Indo-European languages. This area includes a large part of Oceania (Taiwan, New Zealand, Hawaii and Easter Island). In China, only 0.035 % of the population speaks a language coming from this family. These 14 different dialects all come from one group.

Indo-European languages

Globally, Indo-European languages form the most spread out linguistic family. Despite their prevalence in most of the world, these languages are not really spoken much in China (only 0.0026 % of the population speaks them). With 0.0023 % and 0.0003 % of the Chinese speakers, Tajik and Slavic languages are respectively the two categories represented in China.

Written by Morgan POULELLAOUEN

Translated by David LOURY

Source : http  ://

The difference between Localization and Translation

There is a fine line between localization and translation, but according to the definitions, these two activities are different. Translation consists in transposing a text in an original language into another language, the target language. On the other hand, localization requires further work. It goes beyond mere translation by adding a cultural aspect in order to adapt the product to the local needs in the best way possible.


Localization is often mistaken with translation. The difference between the 2 concepts is hard to grasp for some people and therefore the importance of the processes of localization is often underestimated, like adapting the non-textual components of a product or a service. For instance, let’s take the adaptation of graphs, the adoption of local currencies, the use of specific date formats, addresses or phone numbers, the choice of colors and many other details. These modifications can lead to the complete physical restructuration of a project. The purpose of all these changes is to avoid any misunderstanding with the local culture and customs and also adapt to the specific needs and desires of a population when entering a foreign market.

The localization service is a direct consequence of the increasing internationalization of global trade. That’s why many translation agencies are hired to localize products. They will mostly be asked to localize computer products, like translating software and its documentation, as well as websites or more “traditional” documents such as leaflets, packaging, pictures, etc.

Localization is a process in which the culture of the target audience is taken into consideration. The translator knows about the characteristics of the target language and is thus able to perceive its nuances. This requires a thorough understanding of the rules that govern both the original and the target culture. In that sense, it may be said that the process of localization simply is a more advanced and complete version of translation.

But be careful, translation is a vital step that remains at the heart of the process of localization.

Written by Anne-Laure ZAMARRENO

Translated by Nathan HERMANCE

One for Humor, And Humor for All

When we bring up the difficulties that may be encountered in a translation process, we tend to think about very complex legal or commercial documents, or even poetry. Indeed, translating Victor Hugo’s or Baudelaire’s verses in English is not a piece of cake ! However, it’s not what this article will be focusing on today. I’d rather propose you to give a round of applause for all those who have to translate humoristic messages.


Thanks to streaming websites –that are getting more and more numerous over the years- American series live beyond their shores. Nevertheless, some like The Big Bang Theory or Two Broke Girls are sometimes really hard to deal with. Indeed, whether humor can be translated or not has led to many studies and debates. Some authors like Zabalbeascoa have even decided to create a classification for the different types of jokes, in order to make it less tedious for audiovisual translators.

If humor is something universal, its translation is way more complex, as puns are usually specific to a culture. Thus, translators have to succeed in adapting these references to the targeted culture so they can be understood..This can turn into a real nightmare, considering they also have to respect translation techniques and restrictions which exist in subtitling, for example.

Below are few examples to help you understand :

  • I assume you haven’t forgotten about the Game of Thrones episode in which the origin of Hodor’s name is revealed. Admittedly, this passage is not humoristic at all, but it does a good job of depicting the challenge that is translating puns. The sentence “Hold the door” works pretty well in English, but it’s not as easy to find a translation that makes sense in other languages. The Dubbing Brothers chose to translate it by “Pas au-dehors” in French, (litteraly “not outdoors”), which then becomes “Au-dehors” and finally “Hodor”. In Spanish, it became “Obstruye el corridor” (“Obstructs the corridor”).
  • Did you know that during the Cannes Festival, the directors of the movie Intouchablesmade a guide book adapting the dialogues and jokes for the foreign audience ? Therefore, the joke “Pas de bras, pas de chocolat !” (which literally can be translated to “no arm, no chocolate”) was translated by “No handy, no candy !” or by “No feet, no sweets !” in order to keep the rhyme.
  • Sometimes, the translation choice itself makes us laugh : John Snow’s name was kept in the French version of the show, but not in the Quebec’s one. They decided to translate it literally, which leaves us with a wonderful Jean Neige, as testifies the French Tumblr “Les sous-titres de la honte” (“The subtitles of shame”).

Written by Déborah Rivallain

Translated by Zohra Lepeigneul


InDesign : What if we Simplify our Lives ?

These are the words said by any translator who had to work on his document’s layout : bugs always occur at the last minute. And for good reasons, the files sent by customers are not always well thought out.

InDesign, a wonderful little desktop publishing software, allows you to automate the layout work very easily (according to those who use it). We will give you some very useful tips, your collaborators will love you and even adore you !


First of all, take the time to set up layers and templates. This may seem basic to some of you, but it is always good to remember it. These templates will provide a basic layout (automated page numbering, decorations, logos, etc.) that will not need to be systematically replaced.

Let’s then move on to paragraph styles. For translators, there is nothing better than clearly defined styles in the file. It should also be remembered that computer-assisted translation (CAT) software does not take into account style formatting, but only text. It is then necessary, during the conversion, to reapply the paragraph styles in the document. Styles also make it possible to take into account the difference in size of the translated segments. Indeed, from one language to another, the sentences will not have the same length even though they convey the same idea.

Right after paragraph styles, you have to deal with character styles. These are small nuances in a text, for example a word in italics, bold, underlined, or written in a different colour. To highlight them, we do not create a new paragraph style but a variant of the one used thanks to the character style.

Finally, a last very useful notion for having an optimized document is the implementation of a title numbering system. We could have presented it to you in paragraph styles, but the importance of the subject deserved its own part. A numbering of titles and parts allows you to better organize your document, and to have better references in case of bugs in the sequence of articles.

Many tutorials are available on the Internet, just ask the right question and forums, videos, websites and online PDFs will have the answer you are looking for. There is nothing complicated and translators will be pleased to work with you on your files.

So, what are you waiting for ?

Julie Daval

Translated by Arthur Chevallier-Letort

Sources : http ://

Watching the Subtitled Version to Better Express Oneself

I am sure that you all enjoy watching TV shows and movies, the majority of which probably coming from abroad. According to your language level, you may choose to enable the subtitles, and that is the topic we will tackle today !


First of all, let’s get things straight. We are going to talk about the subtitled version, not about translated subtitles, because it is more appropriate for language learning. Then, since you may have already found some movie or TV show subtitles that were shockingly lousy, we will stick to the original version. That way, we are sure to read something accurate !

Let’s start from the beginning : learning a new language is awfully long and demands regular and serious commitment ; I think that everyone can agree on this. Unfortunately, we don’t all have time to take classes to improve ourselves and, for lack of something better, we often make do with mobile apps or other learning platforms to work on it.

But here is the catch : once you learn a new language, you might have trouble using it ; learning a language is one thing, but using it is another. Indeed, to do that, it is better to possess some understanding of it, especially in terms of context.

Here comes the main reason as to why you should use subtitling as a learning method. First of all, I believe that everyone can agree on the fact that learning while having fun makes the task less tedious. In this case, we are talking about a method to easily combine words or phrases with their context. For example, watching a scene from a TV show and reading its corresponding subtitles lets you link the two of them in a clear way. Therefore, when we hear those words or phrases again, their context easily comes back to us. As such, understanding what is said and expressing oneself both become easier. We remember the whole situation, which means that the words come back to us naturally.

Subtitles are also of interest in the case of foreign movies themselves, simply because they present a different linguistic perspective from the one you have when watching the dubbed version or the version featuring French subtitles. Watching a movie in its original version allows for a better perception and understanding of the culture of the movie.

In a nutshell, if your written and oral expression is wonky, watching the subtitled version of your TV shows is the perfect solution !

Written by Maxime Cléret

Translated by Sarah Deville

Google Translate, or the Mistake Often Made by People who are in a Hurry

Nowadays, translation methods keep evolving. This is especially true for automated translation systems, Google Translate (GT) being the most famous among them. Made available by Google back in 2006, the appeal of such a tool is understandable. Even though Google Translate is constantly being improved upon, some mistakes remain unavoidable and a machine cannot correct them. Here are a few reasons why a company or even an individual should not prefer Google Translate over the services of a professional translator.


A tantalizing description…

Right. Picture yourself as the manager of a small company which is fast-growing. You tell yourself that it might be a smart idea to have your website, your products, contracts or any other relevant documents translated. However, one thing still worries you : is it really worth investing money in the services of a professional translator if you don’t make it on a foreign market ?

A thought then pops into your head : what about Google Translate ? After all it is free, and you already use it here and there to find vocabulary words.

The idea seems like a good one on paper. The technology behind automated translation tools keeps improving and getting more effective. It relies on a corpus to be as precise as possible and Google Translate even allows for its users to improve the system themselves. The number of language pairs available is yet to be rivaled : professional translators could never offer as many since they always translate towards their mother tongue. However, isn’t there a good reason for this ?

… for a result which falls short of expectations

Translating a text cannot be reduced to simply translating words or sentences. Translating the content and the meaning instead of the style requires a professional. An automated translation tool cannot compete with a human being’s sensitivity and will not be able to find the small nuances which make all the difference. Did you ever notice ? Google Translate will always translate “you” in English by “vous” in French (which corresponds to the second person plural or the polite form) instead of “tu”, when both are correct depending on the context. Here lies the core of the issue : Google Translate does not take the context into account.

A text heavily relies on its context. Performing a translation without taking into account the context is akin to cooking without being familiar with the taste of the ingredients. It might turn out okay if you are lucky enough, but it will never be as good as you expected it to be. The creators of Google Translate are aware of this issue and it is why their tool relies on a corpus. However, the context of two different texts will never be the same and, as such, it is fairly easy to distinguish a professional translation from an automated one.

Furthermore, any text entered on Google Translation is automatically saved in order to be translated. This is a real issue for confidential documents which are not to be made public.

Finally, it goes without saying that a bad translation puts your company’s credibility at risk and can tarnish its reputation. It goes against the professionalism that is expected of a company and is counterproductive.

All of this holds true for Google Translate but for other automated translation tools -such as Reverso, DeepL, Linguee, etc.- as well. Even though they are constantly being improved upon, these tools are far from being as effective as professional translators.


Translated by Céline ECHILLEY

Source : https :// 

Translating U.S. Sports

As a European, it is not that hard to translate football terms. Sure, as in every translation field, you won’t get anywhere if you don’t know anything about it. However, in Europe, we do know some things, especially the readers. Well, at least the minimum so that they can rant about footballers’ wages during lunch on Sundays. By the way, speaking of football, did you know that Americans call it soccer ?


So yes, Americans decided that football is a sport played with your hands and that Europeans were wrong. So be it.

Also speaking of Americans, we have to admit that their sports are pretty interesting, right ? Everything is a show, their 100,000-seat American (yes, American) football stadiums filled with crazy fans, with fireworks launched at every home run or touchdown, this dizzying sensation of belonging to a team when the hockey puck enters the net and the crowd roars… We have to say that they know how to put on a great show.

Wow, two paragraphs and we have yet to talk about translation in American sports. So here we go : be it basketball, American football or hockey, we don’t really play these in France. Let’s not even talk about lacrosse. I will take the example of softball since I have been playing it for six years. This is a cousin of baseball, where we almost use the same terms and instead of trying to prove who can hit the ball the farthest, softball is more focused on tactics. Anyway, I always wondered how I would translate softball terms. Quebecers have translated all the rules into French but, in France, where more people know about who the last The Voice winner is than softball, it may be better to keep the specific terms in English (such as shortstop, strike, catcher, etc.). That way, if it ever wanted to, the general public could check American websites to find more information with these terms in English. On the one hand, an American sports enthusiast would find it easier to understand articles in English about his favourite sport since he understands everything. On the other hand, someone that could really be interested in playing that sport could find the glut of specific terms in English annoying and then give up really fast.

Maybe it is only a matter of time ? In 30 years, American sports will probably be more well-known and understood in English, that or each and every term will be translated in French and used naturally. The major problem with translation is that sports clubs appeal to kids thanks to the cool aspect of American sports. Some of the terms, such as first base (première base in French) are always translated, but others like outfield, pop up or fly ball are usually kept in English. I think that it gets us a little bit closer to the packed stadiums in the USA that we all dream about.

But for now, I have to leave you and go to my softball training (balle-molle in French, which is a literal translation even though we play with “hard balls”. In fact, I could continue for hours… but for now, I must get going.)

 Written by Léa Pigeau

Translated by Nathan Hermance

Technical Writers : The Key Actors of a Company

Today, we do not venture on the road without a GPS device or a map, and, the same way, we do not want to buy a product without its user guide. How do we know that our printer is connected to the computer ? Which button do we need to press to turn on the car radio ? How do we change the phone’s battery ? Such questions technical writers would be able to answer.


They are the creators of the user guides of the devices you are using. They did not assemble or imagine the pieces, but they made you able to understand why these pieces exist. They translate and interpret engineers, they create brochures and technical specifications. Sometimes, they even create video tutorials so you get access to more details and illustrations. In short, they are everywhere. They are multitasking : “technical writer” is not necessarily how they are called but they are still the reason why you do not need to go back to the store to ask how to use your coffee machine.

However, becoming a technical writer is not as easy as it sounds. Trainings are required to learn how to utilize the most commonly used (and demanded) software in companies and to learn how to structure the information.

You need to be concise. The user must be able to easily and quickly find the piece of information he needs. I mean, he already only reads the user guide because he is stuck (“why isn’t this drill more intuitive ?”), he does not want to also lose any time looking for the answer he needs.

Technical knowledge – in particular industrial knowledge – can be an added value for this job if you want to work in fields such as industry, defense, aeronautics, etc. However, this knowledge will not be needed in fields such as software development.

The technical writer can produce several types of documentation : software (how to use the software functionalities or the video game options), hardware and equipment (description of the product, its use, etc.), training programs (intended for trainers power points, video tutorials, etc.), or what is called RedacTech 2.0 (online help, management of wikis and FAQs…).

Thus, young technical writing students from all backgrounds do not need to be expert in a specific field to find a job, but having a bit of knowledge in several fields will allow them to have many open doors. As the profession is becoming increasingly better-known, there is no shortage of job offers at the moment. According to the candidates’ tastes, career opportunities in large aerospace companies, in SMEs or even in the army are entirely possible.

Although the market keeps expanding in France, technical writing is already well-known abroad and interesting job offers are available (provided you are comfortable with English, but also with other foreign languages such as German or Spanish).

To conclude on this awesome job, it is important to remember that “technical writing is the art and science of translating technical information into readable, accessible writing usable by a wide audience.” (Universal Class).

Written by Julie Daval

Translated by David Loury

Translation : A Gateway to Multiculturalism

Translation has always been a way to communicate for people from different cultures and with different backgrounds. However, translation is not only useful to this purpose : it also creates a relationship between cultures in a cosmopolitan world. Indeed, it is the translator’s responsibility to make the transition from one culture to another while enriching his translation with reference points and context, thus giving it a high quality and relevance.


The Translator : A Cultural Agent

In this practice, the translator is seen as a cultural agent since he is a mediator between cultures. Indeed, it is up to him to transcribe the cultural references as best as possible by adapting them and using detours when they are impossible to translate into the target language.

For this exercise, the cultural agent must consider the social practices and norms, national identities or institutions, the customs and practices of each country, power relations as well as the policies that influence translation in one way or another.

Thus, the translator establishes an important link between the two languages in order to defend cultural diversity. It is therefore essential because, without translation, we would be thrown into a world filled with misunderstanding, fear of the “other” and conflicts.

Translation of Terms with a High Cultural Content

It is not only a matter of translating words, but rather translating concepts specific to civilizations have their own way of thinking. These “culture-bound terms” are very difficult to translate since it is a question of preserving their identity while keeping in mind that it will not necessarily be possible to preserve the whole concept.

These terms most often illustrate : a different material culture such as architecture, clothing, gastronomy, units of measurement ; a well-defined sociocultural system such as religion, customs, school and administrative systems, politics and the military field. This type of content is generally found in the legal and humanity fields.

How will our cultural agent then translate this kind of text ? He will have to make a choice among the following four options : borrowing, literal translation-which could also be called loan translation- cultural equivalence and periphrasis, otherwise referred to as explanatory translation. Each of these processes has its own specificities and must be chosen according to the target audience, the field of the text along with its style.

Therefore, the translator will have to face a dilemma often encountered with this type of content, which is none other than making a choice between translating and explaining. Whatever his choice maybe, he should have thought about it at length, since the slightest error could lead to a misunderstanding of the text and thus the transition between the two cultures will not be able to work properly.

Ellenita Gomez

Translated by Arthur Chevallier-Letort