Skip to main content

Posts

The Spectre of Machine Translation

A spectre is haunting the translation industry – the spectre of machine translation. As the fear to be driven out of the marketplace is advancing inland further into the heart of every business due to the technological developments, translators are also having their fair shares of this fear – the machines taking our jobs!
How we’ve been dealing with this challenge is projecting what seems to be going to happen to us. Most of the professional comments I’ve read so far indicate that a big part of the market is still unable to predict what the future holds for us. We are just hiding our fears by laughing away the incompetent results of neural machine translations.
Some claim that MT still has a long way –several decades– to go until human translators are expelled and forced out of the market, but how much headway MT has made over the past decades is ignored, let alone its potential to be a tool indistinguishable from human translators.
But should we really be afraid of MT? Will it really t…
Recent posts

The Cutest Dictionary of All Times

If I was interested in learning the Japanese language, I could achieve that goal in a few months’ time. Not because I am so smart, but I have the most motivating material to learn the Japanese language. I am not learning Japanese, or intend to learn it in the future, but this dictionary has been one of my favorite passtime items, with its attracting design and concise structure.
As a translator, I collect dictionaries but not only for the language pairs I am working in. I buy dictionaries if they are cheap, or if they are fun, or if they are cute like this one.
“Temel Japonca-Türkçe Sözlük” is written by Oğuz Baykara, a veteran of the Japanese-Turkish linguistic studies, professor at Boğaziçi University. Its hardcover and pages with red-edges and rounded corners give it a sophomoric look.
The first and second pages include a table of hiragana and katakana and the last two pages have a map of Japan, showing cities with a population over 1 million, which is interesting as the map has dat…

Sami – Hero of Two Nations

Şemseddin Sami is hailed as a man of literature, an encyclopedist, and –for me most importantly– a lexicograph both in Turkey and in Albania. He is considered to be a hero in both countries for his services for the Turkish and Albanian languages. Being one of the most important dictionaries of the Turkish language in the modern sense, his Kamus-ı Türki (1899) is still widely used as a reference today alongside Redhouse’s Turkish Lexicon (1890).
In addition to a few other dictionaries, such as Kamûs-ı Fransevî (French-Turkish dictionary) and Kamûs-ı 'Arabî (an unfinished work of Arabic-Turkish dictionary), he also published the first encyclopedia in Turkey, on the Islamic world.
Known as Şemseddin Sami in Turkey and as Sami Frashëri in Albania, he was an intriguing character with his contributions to the formation of the Albanian identity as well as to the independence of the Albanian people, however, at the same time producing intellectual material for Ottomanism and Turkism.
His ec…

Translating Legalese

Translation covers a huge array of fields in which translators find themselves short of breath at the beginning of their career, intimidated by the immensity of each field containing umpteen technicalities awaiting to be acquainted with. Some translators pick a favorite subject to specialize in, while some are devoid of the opportunity to make a choice at all, since their career is shaped by demands from clients rather than offering services only in their preferred expertise. 
One of these fields is legal translation, which deals with the professional writing style used in legal documents, sometimes called Legalese. Although some translators may feel frightened with legal translation, it is contrarily much easier, and it brings in some advantages to translators. Here are some of these advantages.
Precision It is a general rule for most texts to aim for clarity so that the reader is provided with an understandable mesh of words, some texts intend completely otherwise for various reasons t…

The First-Ever Hindi-Turkish Dictionary

Hindi and Turkish have a lot in common in terms of vocabulary. That is mainly because of the Arabo-Persian influence on both languages. As much as the Turkish language has been exposed to the Persian vocabulary, Indic languages have undergone the same route, it seems, through royal administrations, and religious and secular literature. The Turkish fans of Bollywood today are surprised when they encounter familiar words in Indian movies. Considering the geographical distance and the religious and cultural differences between Turkey and India, it is only natural that people are baffled at this lexical similarity.
However, in spite of this shared background, relations between the two cultures don’t seem to have made much progress. When you look for a dictionary of the Hindi language in Turkish, you can find only one available. I don’t know if there is a Turkish dictionary for Hindi speakers at all. There being no bidirectional Hindi-Turkish dictionary ever shows how the two cultures have…

Latin – The Language We All Know

I love buying cheap second-hand books, especially if they are in a foreign language, no matter I understand or need it or not. This one, IANUA NOVA, is a grammar exercise book for the German-speaking Latin learners, and I bought it last year just for 4 Turkish Lira (1 US Dollar). Neither do I speak German, nor do I have any serious commitment to learn Latin. But it feels nice to know what kind of material other people speaking another language have when they are learning a language I once attempted to learn yet failed.


Studying Latin is fun. When you study Latin, unlike living languages, you will encounter fabular phrases in your exercise book, like “The girls saluted the soldiers”, “The slave listened to the master”, “I applauded the poet”, “The emperor conquered new countries” etc.. It is never like “How can I go to the post office?” or “What kind of music do you like listening to?”. I believe that is not merely because Romans didn’t have post offices (or did they?) and they weren’t…

Redhouse – Ode to a Lexicographer

If you have been trained, or have studied a trade, to perform a job on a universally acknowledged level, but are not fortunate enough to enjoy the pleasures of laboring the fancy things in your field, you will mellow out spending time on things related to the prettier parts of your profession. Like I start doing now.
I am a translator. I labor foreign words to the satisfaction of my clients who need to receive texts foreign to them in their native tongue, or who do not have the time to naturalize those texts for their own use. I didn’t have the slightest idea, years ago when I started learning the English language, that I would be making a living by translating commercial documents, user manuals, agreements, websites, academic papers (undeservedly pretentious at times), separation deeds, passports, and many other unfancy works of this vale of tears. Wearisome as it might be from time to time, I like my job anyway. But I also like one particular aspect of my job, which is the incessan…