3 Most Asked Questions About Transcription

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Transcription can be understood in two ways – in a linguistics or business sense. In linguistics, transcription is a representation of speech in written form. This is especially important in methodologies involving research on phonetics, conversation analysis, sociolinguistics etc. Transcription can also capture speech nuances by following the phonetic transcription systems which are based on the International Phonetic Alphabets (IPA).

However, in a business sense, transcription focuses less on this aspect since the importance lies in converting speech into a written document. This differs from representing speech in a scientific manner for research purposes (transcription in linguistics).

The next question that you might ask would be the people who request for transcription service.  Our clients typically hail from the legal sector since transcribed materials are frequently produced as court evidence. Apart from transcribing legal materials, we also cover audio recordings for conferences or high profile events. Our transcription assignments are not limited to English, there are times when we need to transcribe a foreign language audio clip into English or vice versa.

Due to the importance of our transcription assignments, we ensure that speech is accurately presented in a written format – our transcribers make an effort to listen out for unclear words or expressions against background noise in the audio recordings. We even go the extra mile of ensuring that punctuation and text organization are consistent, neat and comprehensive for our clients. Do refer to our previous blog posts on “The Power of Punctuation (I)”, “The Power of Punctuation (II)” and “10 Tips Guide You How to Write in Style”  to get a better idea of how we structure our transcription deliverables. Log on to scribers.com.sg to explore our transcription service!

Do words need a break?

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Word segmentation is informally known as “word breaks”. When translating from English to Chinese, Japanese, Korean or Thai, the absence of a salient word segmentation process may worry clients.  Segmentation basically refers to dividing a string of utterance. For instance, word segmentation would imply dividing a string of words. In English, word segmentation is easily observed from spaces between words. However, this is not the case for languages such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean or Thai.

When translating from English to any one of the aforementioned languages, clients might have difficulty typesetting the translation; fitting the expressions into the design layout since they are unaware of the word segmentations. For instance, the translated noun might not make sense without a case marker (ga, de, ni etc.) in Japanese or the translated verb might not make sense without a sentence final particle (le, ma, guo etc.) in Chinese. Hence, it is very critical to know where the word boundaries are, in order to match the meaning of the target text to the source text.

Fret not with Scribers! We resolve this mind boggling issue by ensuring that word breaks are addressed in a comprehensive manner for our clients. Our clients would be able to recognize word breaks and seek clarification with our translators if required. Apart from this, we also provide typesetting service that weaves in the translated expressions seamlessly, giving our clients an ease of mind when they engage our holistic translation and localization service. Log on to scribers.com.sg to begin your stress-free journey with us!

0 to 10, How Much Do You Understand “Interpretation” ?

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We hope our previous post on translation has given readers new insights on the importance of considering cultural and linguistic elements during the translation process. Today, we are going to discuss another important topic – interpretation.

There are generally two types of interpretation – consecutive interpretation (CI) and simultaneous interpretation (SI). The terms might have given you some clues about the distinction between CI and SI. For CI, it allows some time lag for the interpreter to make notes or jot down crucial points before transferring the meaning and gist into speech. However, for SI, it is definitely a lot more demanding and exhausting because it only allows an extremely short length of time lag – less than five seconds or half a sentence.

Many of you might overlook the high stress level involved in an SI assignment. Unlike CI interpreters, SI interpreters have to work in pairs or even in groups of 3 or more, depending on the nature of the conference or event. SI interpreters have to be spot on in terms of timing themselves as well as conveying the meaning of the source language. In other words, CI interpreters are given the opportunity to re-interpret when they wish to further refine the interpretation. On the contrary, SI interpreter do not have this advantage even if they wish to polish their interpretation. We also have to keep in mind that both CI and SI interpreters are not interpreting word for word; they have to keep in mind two different sentence structures and vocabularies. This further elevates the challenge of delivering a perfect interpretation for SI interpreters.

At Scribers, you can rest assured that our pool of CI and SI interpreters is well-trained with vast work experience. Some of them are not only bilingual but trilingual, or even multilingual. Being well versed in more than two languages gives the interpreter a winning edge in perceiving nuances across languages in a more sensitive light. Feel free to log on to scribers.com.sg for more details on our interpretation service!

What is Linguistic Untranslatability?

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What is the difference between translation and interpretation? The difference is very straightforward. Translation is written while interpretation is oral. Our blog topic today touches on the former and its importance in the globalized world that we live in right now. When translating, translators represent the conduit of passing information back and forth, from language source to language source. This involves understanding cultural and linguistic elements of both languages. This understanding is critical because untranslatability can happen due to different reasons.

For linguistic translatability to occur, languages must share common linguistic expression so that the same meaning is retained. For instance, Mandarin speakers tend to greet people by saying, “你吃飽了嗎?” which literally means “Have you eaten?”. Even though the Mandarin greeting can be easily translated into English – “Have you eaten?”, the same meaning (of greeting people) is not evoked in English. To English speakers, this might sound odd because they would probably perceive as an invitation to have a meal. However, when translated into Cantonese, the oddity would not be reflected since Cantonese speakers also adopt the same manner of greeting people by saying, “你食咗飯未啊?”. Hence, linguistic untranslatability occurs in English but not in Cantonese. Apart from greetings, linguistic untranslatability can also happen in metaphors and jokes.

Cultural untranslatability occurs when languages do not share a common cultural understanding. This is especially conspicuous when it comes to food culture and onomatopoeia. As mentioned in our previous blog post, onomatopoeia differs across languages – some meaning might be lost during translation because languages such as Japanese places more emphasis on onomatopoeic expressions, as opposed to Swedish or Spanish. Another stark example of cultural untranslatability would be translating the Indian food item, “thosai”. In English, this food item can be simply put across as “Indian pancake”. However, the cultural representation of this “Indian pancake” to English speakers differs from “thosai” since “pancake” is inferred as something “that is soft and tastes like flour”. According to Indians, “thosai” is however, not soft and tastes slightly sour due to fermentation. Hence, cultural untranslatability can occur because of the absence of a specific cultural representation in the target language.

In conclusion, as much as translators strive to retain the meaning and evoke the same reaction in their target readers, it is not surprisingly that the translated word is not a 100 percent representative of the source word. In academic terms, there is no 100 percent transfer of meaning, only high equivalence is possible – retaining as much as meaning as possible. This skill is thus, delegated to the translators. Expertise and experience are two very important prerequisites of producing good pieces of translated work. At Scribers, our translators are not only fluent and competent in two or more languages, but also take linguistic nuances very seriously. As a quality service provider of translation, we ensure that we keep up with the latest trends in linguistic and cultural expressions across languages and industries. We strive to maximize our customer satisfaction and take pride in our flawless track record.

Golden Rule of Naming your Brand Helps to Hit a Home Run!

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Golden rule: Give a cultural and visual connection to your name or brand.

What does it mean by cultural exactly? Giving your brand a cultural connection means going the extra mile to understand your target audience in terms of striking a balance of being “global” yet “localized”. In other words, you need a name that is universal yet strikes a chord with the local context. Understand the local context by understanding the linguistic environment. For example, when venturing into the Asian market, avoid the digit four as it bodes misfortune since it sounds like “die” to Chinese speakers. For example, in Latin America, while nova refers to “star” however, in the other Spanish speaking communities, this can be inferred as “it won’t go”. Obviously, the car sales of a certain company did not go too well eventually.

Giving your brand a visual connection would mean using visuals to evoke the desired emotions and reactions from your target audience. Visuals could come in the form of colors. For instance, selecting red for your company logo represents resilience and vibrancy (Chinese perceive red to be a very auspicious color, symbolizing festivity and good fortune) while blue represents stability and tranquility. To many Japanese, they perceive dark colors to be royal colors (black, dark blue, royal purple) however this could go the opposite way for many Chinese. Dark colors tend to be treated as solemn colors by a majority from the Chinese community.

At Scribers, we ensure that all efforts are focused on executing and taking your branding to a higher level. We are not only a quality service provider of translation (44 languages) but we also support clients in their localization efforts. In today’s globalized business setting, it is no longer sufficient enough to make your selection nonchalantly from a sea of foreign words. The name that represents your company has to be catchy, trendy, sophisticated and representative of your brand that suits your target audience’s preference. Your branding efforts need to address this preference by ensuring that the underlying message is conveyed efficiently without having to go through the nitty-gritty information about your products and services. To enquire more about our translation and localization services, log on to scribers.com.sg!

Make a Vintage Name for Your Brand

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When deciding on a name for your firm or event, there are some useful pointers that would definitely be tacky. Tacky can be understood in two ways, depending on your target audience. According to some English speakers in the United States, tacky means “sticky” – just like superglue. However to some English speakers, “tacky” can be perceived in a bad light – describing something as being too flashy due to bad taste. In the business sense, there is one language that appears to stand out – French. This is not surprising as many property developers or business proprietors in Asia employ French when naming new apartments, restaurants, boutiques, retail products and even events! Examples include Laneige, Etude House, Shiseido’s Maquillage cosmetic series, Saveur and Poulet.

Connoisseur-A Blend of English and other language

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However, there are also business enterprises which adopt a blend of English and another foreign language. For instance, this phenomenon is reflected in The Connoisseur Concerto and Spayuri. This trend of using pseudo-French or pseudo-Japanese names for businesses aims to exploit the sophistication of French and Japanese cultural stereotypes. In short, property developers in Asia mentioned that using a foreign language adds value to their development, reflecting elegance and prestige of the dwellings. Other Asian businesses seem to utilize this value adding feature as part of their branding efforts. This is especially ubiquitous in the beauty industry.

Etude House- Skincare Brand with a French Name

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“Etude” (Etude House) which is a French word – étude, also refers to a musical composition. The meaning that Etude House aims to convey is their aim to beautify young women through their alluring products, similar to the beautiful composition by famous composer Frédéric Chopin. Another cosmetic product, Laneige – refers to snow in French, aims to beautify women through their sophisticated products that are carefully produced from “water science”, enabling them to achieve a radiant skin that glows.

Spayuri- Another Ingenious blend of English and Japanese

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Another ingenious blend of English and Japanese can be observed in another branding effort by Spayuri. Notice how spa and yuri appears as a coinage here. Spayuri conveys the underlying message of health and wellness, as well as an embodiment of beauty and sensuality from the Japanese female name Yuri and the kanji (Characters that represent Chinese loanwords in Japanese) meaning lily.

These businesses have successfully marketed themselves in the intense globalized competition. One important tip shared by marketing gurus lies in naming your business affectively.

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 www.deal.com.sg

sgglitterforgoodgirls.blogspot.sg

 lovelypackage.com

Enter the Past Tense in Turkish

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On the other extreme end lies Turkish. There are a few past tense structures in Turkish, however, we are going to highlight two crucial past tense structures which mind-boggles many learners of Turkish. These past tense structures are as follow:

-di’li geçmiş zaman “Regular Past Tense” -di
-miş’li geçmiş zaman “Story Past Tense” -miş

Under the regular past tense structure, the affix –di can latch onto verbs, nouns (or pronouns) and adjectives. In the following utterance, the affix is attached to the verb. For example, when referring to an action that occurred in the past:

1)      Gel-di

come-PAST

“He came.”

The examples below feature the combination of a pronoun and an adjective with –di respectively:

2)      Şöhret        değil-di-n-iz

celebrity    NEG-PAST-n-2SG.FORM

“You were not a celebrity.”

3)      İyi-y-di-m

good-y-PAST-1SG

“I was good.”

Kindly take note that there are buffer letters (n, y) in Turkish. It is essential to have buffer letters in Turkish to prevent phonological clash. The usage of buffer letters depends on the phonological environment of the word. For example, to avoid a sound clash when there are two adjacent vowels, a butter letter is inserted. Of course, there are also many other situations which make buffer letters a must.

Let us proceed on to the next past tense structure, which is otherwise known as story past tense. The story past tense structure is used when the speaker has heard something from someone else, thus, he will not be held responsible for any wrong information. The speaker can also employ this tense structure when he is unsure of whether or not the action took place. In short, the speaker is the not the source of information since he does not possess any firsthand encounter. Similar to the regular past tense structure, -miş can also be attached to verbs, nouns and adjectives.

This utterance displays the verb+miş combination (The speaker heard from the boy’s mother that he went to school):

4)      Anne-si-y-le                             konuş-tu-m.       Okul-a                   git-miş.

mother-POSS.3SG-y-POST    talk-PAST-1SG    school-DATIVE    go-PAST

“I spoke with his mother. He went to school.”

The following shows the noun+miş combination (The speaker heard that the prime minster was in France):

5)      Başbakan              dün               Yunanistan-‘da-y-mış.

prime minister     yesterday    Greece-LOC-y-PAST

“The prime minister was in Greece yesterday.”

The final example features the adjective+miş combination (The speaker heard from Yurcel that his friend fell ill):

6)      Yurcel-‘le         onun             hakkında    konuş-tu-m.       Hasta-y-mış.

Yurcel-POST    POSS.3SG     about         talk-PAST-1SG    sick-y-PAST

“I spoke with Yurcel about her. She was sick.”

On a side note, you might have noticed the different spellings of the regular past tense and story past tense affixes (-di, –miş). This is due to vowel harmony in Turkish. Turkish has two sets of vowels, namely the front and back vowels. Vowel harmony disallows front and back vowels to occur in the same word. Hence, grammatical affixes, such as the ones presented here (-di/ –tu, –miş / –mış), come in both front vowel and back vowel forms. This segment on vowel harmony in Turkish shall be elucidated later on! Stay tuned!

Pic source: www.flickr.com/photos/jasonepowell

Is It True That “Past Tense” Does Not Exist in Chinese Language?

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Languages differ from one another in so many ways. Tense structure tends to be the complicated aspect of foreign language learning. For instance, even though Chinese appears to lack tense structure, Chinese speakers are in fact, aware of actions that refer to the past, present and future. In other words, the time reference in Chinese is represented differently – instead of tense, it is labeled as aspect.

To cut to the chase, aspect is conceptualized into two types of actions – either telic oratelic. The former refers to an action that has been completed while the latter symbolizes an action that is uncompleted. Because Chinese grammar does not marktense, whether or not the action is completed depends on the type of sentence final particle (SFP) (了 le, 過 guo). Both refer to actions in the past, but the minor contrast lies in guo being more far back than le.

As guo would usually be understood as an experience, thus the action appears to be more far back than le (他去日本 “He has been to Japan” as opposed to 他去日本 “He went to Japan”). To elaborate, in the first utterance, the mentioned person might already be back in his home country (he has the experience of visiting Japan) while in the following utterance, it is also possible that the he is still in Japan or is on his way to Japan. As Chinese does not mark tense (English: go, went drink, drank), speakers tend to rely on context to determine which SFP to use – whether it has been completed (guo) or it has not been exactly completed and still onging (le), keeping in mind that both actions would be conceptualized as “past” in general.

Languages differ from one another in so many ways. Tense structure tends to be the complicated aspect of foreign language learning. For instance, even though Chinese appears to lack tense structure, Chinese speakers are in fact, aware of actions that refer to the past, present and future. In other words, the time reference in Chinese is represented differently – instead of tense, it is labeled as aspect.

To cut to the chase, aspect is conceptualized into two types of actions – either telic oratelic. The former refers to an action that has been completed while the latter symbolizes an action that is uncompleted. Because Chinese grammar does not marktense, whether or not the action is completed depends on the type of sentence final particle (SFP) (了 le, 過 guo). Both refer to actions in the past, but the minor contrast lies in guo being more far back than le.

As guo would usually be understood as an experience, thus the action appears to be more far back than le (他去日本 “He has been to Japan” as opposed to 他去日本 “He went to Japan”). To elaborate, in the first utterance, the mentioned person might already be back in his home country (he has the experience of visiting Japan) while in the following utterance, it is also possible that the he is still in Japan or is on his way to Japan. As Chinese does not mark tense (English: go, went drink, drank), speakers tend to rely on context to determine which SFP to use – whether it has been completed (guo) or it has not been exactly completed and still onging (le), keeping in mind that both actions would be conceptualized as “past” in general.

Now, you understand how do the Chinese express “past” in their language. Have you ever thought about a past tense mark in another language? <To be continued>

Pic source: ashscrapyard.wordpress.com

10 Tips Guide You How to Write in Style

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Formal writing might not come as second nature to many, but there are some simple tips to get rid of these writing woes as far as basic formatting is concerned. Not being able to format your writing would probably leave the reader uninterested and annoyed. The lack of standardization might also imply the disregard towards the target audience as well as the nature of the document or report. It is important to be consistent once you have adopted a particular style of formal writing. This allows the reader to better understand and retain the content of your document. Below are some useful points to take note before you begin to produce or edit a formal document.

1)      First and foremost, whole numbers which are smaller than 10 should be spelt out. In other words, numbers one to nine should not be written as 1 or 7 in formal writing.

2)      If whole numbers are to be spelt out, numbers which do not belong to this category do not have to be spelt out. Values such as 3.5 or 0.5 do not have to be spelt out like three point five or zero point five.

3)      However, as mentioned earlier on, it is important to stick to a particular formal writing style from the beginning to the end of the document. There is really no standard spelling rule for numbers. For example, some writers or editors might adhere to the first rule above, however some might feel otherwise – one-word number should be spelt out instead. For instance, twenty instead of 20 or thirty instead of 30.

4)      Please use a comma if your document involves huge values. For example, in English, the comma is regarded as a thousands separator (886, 000 “eight hundred and eighty-six thousand”) while the period is understood as a decimal separator. However, take note that in Europe, this is exactly the other way round – the comma acts as a decimal separator while the period acts as a thousands separator!

5)      Centuries and decades should be spelt out. For example, seventies or twentieth century.

6)      Values which have been rounded off should be written in a numeral-plus-word format. For instance, about 5 billion or an estimated 20 million.

7)      When two numbers are written next to each other such as 2 15-year-olds, it can appear a tad odd and confusing. In this case, write 2 as two and the phrase becomes two 15-year-olds.

8)      When addressing people formally such as sir or madam, the first letter only needs to be in upper case when it is placed before the addressee’s name or when it appears at the start of a sentence.

9)      In formal writing, please refrain from using the percent sign %.  It should be spelt out as percent. For example, 20%  becomes 20 percent or twenty percent, depending on your preference (this brings us back to the third rule).

10)   Last but not least, please ensure that there is consistency once you have adopted a particular formal writing style. For instance, please do not write 20 boys at one point and then witch to writing twenty days somewhere else in the same document.

We hope these 10 tips have shed some light on adopting an appropriate formal writing style! Please feel free to share more formal writing tips. Happy writing or editing!  🙂

Spanish Dialect is more than your thoughts

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Another difference in pronunciation lies in the palatal lateral approximant (written with two “Ls” ll) and the voiced palatal fricative (written as y). This phonemic contrast can be understood as /ʎ/ (ll) and /ʝ/ (y). In the past, Spanish used to maintain this distinction. However, the majority of speakers today in Spain and the Americas have merged these two phonemes into /ʝ/. This merger is otherwise known as yeísmo. In Spain, speakers continue to differentiate these two phonemes in rural areas and smaller cities of the north while the same phenomenon is observed in South America and this characteristic suggests that bilingualism is a contributing factor – Quechua languages, Guarani and other indigenous languages possess the /ʎ/ sound in their speech sound patterns. This characteristic shows up in speakers from Peru and Paraguay.

Examples:

hoya “pit / hole” olla “pot”
baya “berry” valla “fence”

Grammar wise, there is only one minor difference. As Spanish is a T-V distinction language, (T-V distinction indexes level of politeness depending on the social status of the addressee) there is an emphasis on how the addresser refers to the addressee. For instance, different pronouns representing “you” (second person singular pronoun) denote different levels of formality. In most varieties, there are only two levels of contrasts – either “formal” or “informal” (or “familiar”). Under the formal usage of the second person pronoun, most speakers of Spanish (as well as other Spanish dialects) and Spanish America agree on using usted (second person singular pronoun) and ustedes (second person plural pronoun). However, when it comes to the informal usage of the second person pronoun, there is a regional contrast. For example, either or vos can refer to the second person singular informal and either vosotros or ustedes can refer to the second person plural informal. For instance, in Standard European Spanish, the plural of (second person singular informal pronoun) is vosotros and the plural of usted (second person singular formal pronoun) is ustedes. On the contrary, in Spanish America, vosotros is not used, thus, the plural of both and usted is ustedes.

Pic source: payatdoor.com

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