Thursday, 13 October 2011

Bots aren't wordsmiths

 "A New York City translation tech venture, Smartling, today released a host of new features and services to help users translate their websites, mobile, and other digital content into many languages, quickly, affordably, and accurately.

Despite attempts to automate and manage translation by companies that predated Smartling--from Google Translate to AIT's Projetex--"content localization" has remained a challenge for businesses large to small for a number of reasons.

Translating, say, an English website into Chinese sounds pretty straightforward--just hire a Mandarin speaker with a good knowledge of English, right? But it's generally far more of a challenge, explained Jack Welde, CEO of Smartling, which is backed by U.S. Venture Partners, Venrock, First Round Capital, and IDG Ventures.

For example, business owners have to know if text on a site they want to translate is encoded in something called UTF-8. If not, the site can't render Chinese characters and will need a code rewrite. Also, companies need to ask "Where am I going to store all my multilingual content? Do I have a database for that?" Welde said.

Smartling has been automating the code-crunching process and helping companies find translators--whether robots, pros or volunteers--for about two years. Until recently, the company served large enterprise clients, providing them with dedicated sales staff, tech support, and other hand-holding perks. These were typically beyond the needs and budget of most small businesses and non-profits, however."


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