As a translator with a background in Linguistics—more specifically an MA in Computational Linguistics—I have great interest in the progress being made in machine translation. One cannot say that advancements in this field have been small or insignificant.
On the contrary, I’m really amazed that Google Translate sometimes renders perfectly correct sentences, under some circumstances. Years ago, this was something very rare, but it has become more and more frequent, depending on the material you are translating.
The type of machine translation carried out by Google relies heavily on huge amounts of information to train their system. As a result, it performs considerably better with general texts than in more specialized fields, where mistakes are noticeably more common.
You may be asking yourself: is Google Translate good enough for my business?
The answer isn’t simple. It depends on your line of work and the impression you want to make on your client.
Where Machine Translation Works
In some cases, Google Translate seems to be working well enough. A great example is the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. They have literally millions of ads, and using human translators for all of them doesn’t seem feasible, especially considering how quickly their ads come and go.
Machine translation seems to be working well for them, particularly if we consider that (1) most product descriptions also have pictures, which will hopefully clarify at least some instances of mistranslation; and (2) consumers are often buying relatively cheap products. You wouldn’t negotiate the purchase of an expensive machine that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars based solely on a description generated by machine translation. However, the risks involved in buying a Bluetooth headset seem to be pretty acceptable.
… and Where It Doesn’t
But there’s another factor at play: the image that you want to convey to your client. When you buy something cheaply, you usually don’t get frustrated when you receive a product with a cheap package, or a poorly translated user manual. After all, that’s what you paid for. On the other hand, when you invest in a higher quality product, you tend to expect a better package and clear instructions.
The bottom line is that the translation you use has to match your product. If you sell cheap products, a higher rate of product defects is acceptable or expected. The same goes for flaws in their description, user manual, and so on.
If you sell medium- or high-priced items, you shouldn’t consider using machine translation, because it will produce errors that may upset your customer or harm your brand’s reputation.
Not sure you agree? Well, let’s look at some sentences translated using Google.
Google Translate at Work
From time to time, I like to try Google Translate and see how it’s progressing. Despite undeniable improvement, it often generates some curious or even funny sentences—well, not so funny if they end up on your packaging or as part of your product copy.
All of the following examples involve English to Portuguese translation.
These examples were all collected in the last two years. In other words, this is recent stuff.
Does Machine Translation Make Sense for You?
Ask yourself: are you willing to have these kind of errors associated with your brand? Translation costs money, but so do mistakes. Not only in terms of reputation, but often in the form of lawsuits from angry clients who feel deceived.
The point is that you need to weigh the pros and cons. Google Translate can be used when human translation isn’t feasible because of large volumes, as long as you clearly state that the text was machine translated. You also want to make sure that the amount of money you will save outweighs the potential harm caused by mistranslation and damage to your brand reputation.
Despite the great advancements in the field of machine translation, Google Translate certainly hasn’t reached the point where it can be safely used for high-end commercial purposes with no risk of blunders.
In recent decades, women have risen to important positions in the workplace that once were almost exclusively held by men. However, men and women still use language in different ways at work. How can women use language more effectively in the workplace? First we’ll look at some examples of issues that may arise, and then we’ll see tips on improving workplace communication.
When compared to men in similar roles, women tend to be more polite and downplay their authority. When asking someone to carry out a task, for example, women often apologize, saying things like “I’m sorry, could you...,” even when the task is part of that person’s job description. Another word that women sometimes use to minimize the impact of requests is “just”: “I just want to check if...” “I just wanted to know whether...” “I just want to find out...”
When presenting their ideas, women often soften their opinion by using phrases like “I may be wrong, but...” or “I know this might be a stupid question.” Even when men are aware that they may be wrong, they tend not to admit it so frequently, and they avoid undermining their own opinion or expertise.
Not Highlighting Successes
When it comes to taking credit for their own achievements, women are usually more reluctant to do so than men. It’s much more common to hear a man talking proudly about his successes than his female colleague. Unfortunately, women’s modesty comes at a cost: when there are opportunities for advancement, they may not be considered. And it’s not because they are less competent: all too often, it’s simply because others aren’t aware of everything they have achieved and are capable of doing. Talking about your accomplishments is a form of personal marketing, and women typically don’t do it with the same intensity as their male counterparts for fear of being seen as conceited.
Women tend to use these language strategies because they don’t want to be in the spotlight, to offend others, or to seem arrogant. And there’s an explanation for that. According to a New York Times editorial written by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and her collaborator Adam Grant, “When a woman speaks in a professional setting, she walks a tightrope. Either she’s barely heard or she’s judged as too aggressive. When a man says virtually the same thing, heads nod in appreciation for his fine idea.”
Unconscious bias leads us to expect to find traits like leadership and authority in men, but not in women. For many years, we’ve been conditioned to expect leadership roles to be held by men, and change is relatively recent.
So what can women do to address this unconscious bias?
And here are some steps that anyone, male or female, can take to help fight gender inequality in the workplace:
Awareness of language and gender bias takes time to develop. Pay attention to your speaking habits and start making changes so that you look more confident, self-assured, and reliable.
Many of us spend too much time dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. This lack of attention to the present moment can have several unwanted effects, like stress, anxiety, and unhappiness. We simply forget to live in the present and miss out on our own lives.
Fortunately, there’s a way out. It’s called mindfulness, a practice that allows us to live fully and appreciate the moment we’re living in. Mindfulness is about noticing the beauty and joy of the world around us. It’s about being present.
From an emotional point of view, it allows us to gain control over our thoughts and feelings, creating inner peace. It also boosts creativity, engagement, and performance at work.
Mindfulness is easy to practice at home and in the workplace—basically, it consists of meditation and exercises.
You may begin with something very simple, like inhaling and exhaling 3-5 times mindfully. Find a comfortable position. If you have a tendency to fall asleep while lying down, sitting may be a better choice.
You can either close your eyes or focus them on one spot, keeping them relaxed. Pay attention to the present moment and notice your feelings, without judging them. Accept them. Just watch them come and go. Notice your breathing and take slow, deep breaths. When you lose focus, calmly bring your thoughts back to your breath.
If you feel tempted to quit, stay in control. Chances are you’ll have many thoughts running through your head—that’s normal. Meditation isn’t about emptying your mind and getting frustrated when a thought comes up. It’s about gently bringing your mind back every time you lose focus. The more you do it, the better you get.
Try to make this practice part of your routine. If you can choose a time and associate it with a daily task, that’s even better. For example, you can do it after a meal, or after brushing your teeth in the morning. When you notice the benefits of this practice, you’ll probably want to do it more often.
The next step is to raise your awareness during other activities. For example, you can eat mindfully. Instead of being distracted by your smartphone or television, pay attention to the texture, taste, smell, and appearance of your food. You can do it for just a couple of minutes at first and then gradually increase the distraction-free time. Avoid the temptation of multitasking when eating and focus on your meal instead.
You can practice mindfulness when you wake up. Focus on your breathing, inhaling and exhaling deeply. Listen to the sounds around you. Pay attention to your body, your movements, your surroundings. Notice your facial expression. Can you turn a frown into a smile?
You can do the same while walking. There is a whole world outside full of colors, sounds, and life.
When you’re at work, take a moment and ask yourself: “How am I feeling?” If you notice negative emotions, like anger or anxiety, don’t fight them. Acknowledge them. Try to understand them and bring your attention to your breath. Slow down your breathing.
Notice the beauty of the trees along city streets. Smell the aroma of your cup of coffee and relish its flavor. Feel the water running over your hands when you wash them. Immerse yourself in activities you love, whether that means painting, dancing, cooking, or running. Fully listen to people when they are speaking to you, without judging or thinking about how you’ll respond.
You can practice mindfulness at any moment of the day. Until you get used to it, you can set reminders on your smartphone. Make meditation and mindfulness a habit. Even a few minutes a day can make a huge difference.
If you want to succeed in your career as a leader, one of the skills you will have to master is the art of delegation. However, this can be a daunting enterprise at first, and it can cause anxiety and fear. Let’s go over how to delegate tasks intelligently and responsibly.
1. Keep a Positive Attitude
One of the greatest obstacles to delegating tasks is your mindset. If you believe every task should be completed flawlessly and that only you can do it, you’ll never be able to delegate tasks.
The first thing to realize is that not everything has to be perfect. Sometimes, good enough is good enough. It’s also important to understand that if you don’t train someone to do part of your work, they will never have the opportunity to become good at it, and you’ll be stuck with unnecessary work forever. Learn to trust others. People can do some of your work and, with proper instruction and practice, they may do it even better than you. Just give them a chance.
2. Be Proactive
Don’t wait for the perfect opportunity to delegate tasks, and don’t wait for volunteers. Keep an eye out for employees that can take on part of your work, and don’t be afraid to experiment. Be responsible when choosing what you’ll delegate, but know that a certain level of risk is often unavoidable. Don’t forget to document the lessons learned from each attempt. Review them periodically and look for ways to improve.
3. Choose what to delegate
When you’re in charge of an important task, it’s only natural for you to want to do it yourself, and that’s usually the best approach. However, tasks that are relatively simple and repetitive can—and should—be delegated, allowing you to take care of higher-level activities. Even when a recurring task is not so simple, with proper training and some patience, you can get rid of it over time. The time you invest training others to do part of your work will certainly pay off. You’ll be able to focus on strategic, high-value work, rather than ordinary daily tasks.
4. Use the right approach when delegating
If you’re uncomfortable telling people what to do, here are some tips. Be polite and keep instructions short and simple. Don’t worry about looking bossy. When your manager needs your help and makes a polite request, do you feel bad about it? Probably not. It shows your boss trusts you and believes you can do a good job. So don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Set clear expectations in terms of deadline and what has to be delivered, but try not to put too much pressure on your employee. Make sure the task is feasible and that they have the resources they need to take care of it. Don’t forget to follow up regularly and be supportive at all times, but avoid micromanaging.
If the person can’t help you, don’t take it personally. Maybe they’re just too busy—it doesn’t mean they don’t like you. If you’re their boss, you can let them know that you’re assigning the task to them, and if you can, help them reorganize their priorities accordingly.
5. Expect mistakes and be patient
Every job has a learning curve. If you’re assigning someone a new task, they will often make mistakes, and you have to be prepared for that. Try to anticipate and prevent them as much as possible, but do take them into account during planning, since they may lead to delays. Try to make the process a positive learning opportunity, rather than a painful experience for both of you.
Sometimes it may feel like you could save a lot of time by doing the task yourself, rather than teaching someone to do it, but in the long run, that’s far from true. The sooner you start, the sooner you will reap the benefits of delegating. As long as you choose the correct approach and the right employee to delegate to, they’ll quickly become competent and master the task.
6. Acknowledge achievements
Don’t miss the chance to praise your employee. Whenever they do a good job, show them your appreciation, and let others know about it too. A terrible mistake many managers make is to take all the credit. This only leads to frustration and disengagement. People crave recognition, and when their good work is not valued, they may even look for opportunities elsewhere.
By delegating correctly, you will have more free time to work on strategic goals, instead of spending too much of your time on low-value activities. You will also form a relationship based on mutual trust with your employees and show them that their help and skills are appreciated.
Have you ever wished to have more hours in a day? By organizing your activities effectively, you’ll get more things done each day, reducing stress and improving your performance at work. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your time.
1. Understand your Priorities
Before you start working every day, make a list of the most urgent tasks you have to deal with. Positive procrastination involves postponing unimportant tasks, and this is something you should practice, since these tasks tend to consume much your time.
You should always prioritize your activities and focus on those that really matter. Learn to say no to other commitments. Sometimes it’s the only way to avoid becoming overloaded with work.
2. Deal with very small tasks immediately
Even though this may seem to contradict the first tip, if you have a very small task that should take less than 5 minutes, it is often better to deal with it immediately. It is not worthwhile writing it down on your calendar, reading your note on the calendar the day after, and postponing the task every time you have other priorities to deal with. Just get rid of it.
3. Learn How to Delegate Tasks
We often try to do more tasks than we should, which causes stress and may lead to burnout.
Delegation is part of being a leader, and it doesn’t mean you have less responsibility. Learn how to delegate effectively considering the skills of your reports and you will certainly achieve more.
4. Set Realistic Deadlines
Consider the tasks you have to carry out and set realistic deadlines for each one of them. Make sure to avoid overcommitment. It is better to overestimate how long it will take to complete a task rather than underestimate it.
5. Stop Procrastinating
Procrastination is very detrimental to productivity, so you should watch out for it.
If you notice you are procrastinating, try to understand why. Are you tired? Is the task challenging? Do you lack the resources to do your work? If you understand what is behind procrastination, you will be in a better position to act appropriately and overcome it.
6. Don’t check your email all the time
It’s tempting to check your mail every 5 minutes, but this is a bad habit. Chances are that most of your emails are useless and do not add any real value to your work. If possible, check your email just twice or three times a day. This should save you some precious time.
7. Get Out of the Habit of Multitasking
Multitasking may seem like a good idea to get things done more quickly, but it backfires. The human brain isn’t really capable of multitasking: what it is actually doing is switchtasking quickly, which is more exhausting and less effective than finishing one thing and then taking care of the other. Multitasking hinders productivity and may even hurt your brain, so keep your focus on one thing at a time.
8. Watch Out for Signs of Stress
If you don’t work at a sustainable pace, sooner or later you will experience stress, which will affect your productivity. Therefore, try not to work too long or too hard. There is wide evidence that this can ruin your health and productivity.
9. Take a Break
Research has shown that taking regular brakes increases productivity. When you relax, you will come back with more energy and achieve more than if you work non-stop. Spend some time with your family, take a walk, do some stretches, practice yoga or meditation. Do whatever works best for you.
10. Track your time
By monitoring your time for just a few days or weeks, you can gain valuable insights. Try to download some time-tracking app or software for your mobile device or PC. You don’t need anything fancy—there is free software that should be enough for your purposes. Knowing exactly how you use your time every week will open your mind about time wasters and opportunities to become more productive.
Which of these tips do you already use and which are you willing to try? Do you have any tips to add to these?
Managers spend a lot of time in meetings. However, the reality is that many people hate meetings. Why? Because people feel they could be more effective.
So what can you do to make the most of your meetings? Here are 5 tips to make them more productive.
1. Have an agenda
Every meeting should have a clear agenda prepared beforehand. Everyone should know the goals of the meeting in advance, so they can be prepared and help achieve them. This will also help you not deviate from the topics on the agenda.
2. Decide who will be invited to the meeting
After you have a clear agenda, the next step is to decide who should attend the meeting. It is very tempting to invite more people than needed, but this will actually slow down the decision-making process.
You should only invite those who really need to be there. Understanding employees’ roles and responsibilities can make this process easier. Ultimately, you can simply ask the person, “do you need to attend this meeting?”
3. Start on time
Starting meetings on time is critical. If you are leading a meeting and you decide to wait for someone to start it, what message are you conveying? You are saying that the time of the latecomer is more important than everybody else’s time. It is really disrespectful to those who arrive on time.
Besides, this is negative reinforcement. If the person who arrives late feels they haven’t missed anything, they will probably do it again. On the other hand, if you start the meeting on time and discuss some important issue right in the beginning, they will think twice before arriving late.
4. Set rules
Defining rules in the beginning of the meeting can be helpful. You should all agree that only one person will speak at a time and all participants will stay on track.
There can also be a rule against multitasking, like answering phone calls, texting, or using the laptop during the meeting. You should think of any rules that could be important for a productive meeting.
5. Wrap up the meeting with a summary and follow up
The meeting should end with a very brief discussion of what was achieved and the next steps. For every action item, there must be someone responsible for it and a deadline. Make sure that everyone agreed on and understood the tasks that were assigned to them. Put someone in charge of recording action items and sharing them with the participants after the meeting.
Though each person should be held accountable for their assigned tasks, some people might forget about them and need to be reminded, so don’t forget to follow up.
What is your experience with meetings? Do you have any other tips that you would like to share?
When making a business presentation, knowledge is essential, but how you present information is important as well. Here are 8 tips to hone your presentation skills.
1. Know your audience
It is important to know who will be attending your presentation for a number of reasons. This will help you choose a suitable presentation template, know how to dress appropriately, understand their level of knowledge, decide the best approach, and anticipate questions.
2. Avoid bullet points
It is well known that long strings of text are a terrible option for presentations. This would make your audience divided between listening to you and reading all the material that is on your slides, which can be overwhelming or simply boring.
Despite being better than endless sentences, bullet points aren’t the most effective presentation technique. If you don’t use audio and images to reinforce your point, the information will probably get lost.
This is not just random advice–it is actually supported by research. Individuals who are exposed to visual information pay significantly more attention and can better recall it than people who see a bulleted list version of the same information. Presentations with visuals are certainly more effective than text-only presentations.
When you really need to use text, keep it simple. Avoid using more than three bullet points per slide. This way, your audience will spend less time multitasking by reading and trying to understand your message. Your presentation will be more pleasant and less tiresome.
3. Avoid too much information
Though numbers and data can help you validate the point you are trying to make, using too many charts and graphs will not be effective either. Your audience will probably forget most of the information. A better approach is to combine stories, concrete examples, and metaphors to present your information.
Make your slides brief, visually engaging, and easy to understand.
4. Use comparisons
Connect your data to real life examples. Use your creativity and try to tie the information you are presenting to things we observe in our daily life.
For example: instead of simply saying that a machine is able to lift 10 tons, mentioning that this corresponds to 20 adult elephants, and actually presenting a picture of 20 elephants, will be much more memorable.
Comparisons are a powerful way to boost your presentation and make your audience retain information.
5. Limit your key points
Select a few key messages you want your audience to remember, and make sure to mention them regularly during your presentation. Talking about them only once or twice is not enough.
6. Formatting matters
Keep slides as clean as possible and use fonts that are easy to read. Make sure there is good contrast between text and background.
Do not use uppercase when it’s not necessary. Typing in all caps is perceived by many as yelling and it’s considered unprofessional.
7. Record yourself practicing
Whenever possible, record practice presentations. This will make you much more aware of your body language and non-verbal communication.
Pay attention to your facial expressions, posture, gestures, movements, and tone of voice. Take notes of what can be improved and gradually work on it. If possible, ask for feedback from a colleague.
Wrap up your presentation by summarizing the take away points. No matter how effective your presentation was, humans need repetition to memorize information. Don’t waste the chance to repeat your main message at the end.
If you have to make a presentation to an audience of non-native English speakers, consider having your presentation translated into their native language. Not only does this show you care about your audience, but it also helps you build rapport and make your message more meaningful and easily understood.
We understand that speaking another language is a very time-consuming process, but hiring a professional to translate marketing material and presentations is a quick and affordable way to make your target audience more satisfied and engaged. After all,
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head.
If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”
- Nelson Mandela
If you are in doubt whether translating your material would be useful or not, just give it a try. The results will surprise you.
 Kernbach, S., Eppler, M. J., & Bresciani, S. (2015). The Use of Visualization in the Communication of Business Strategies: An Experimental Evaluation. International Journal of Business Communication, 52(2), 164–187. https://doi.org/10.1177/2329488414525444
Every now and then we hear someone, usually dissatisfied, saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The rationale behind this principle is very understandable: if something is working reasonably well, why should we change it? It is risky and things can go wrong.
However, something about this mindset bothers me. The last time I heard it was on a discussion forum at ProZ.com, the world’s leading translator community. Many users were furious because the site staff made significant changes to one of the features of the website – the job search engine. This was one of the arguments of a user trying to convince the staff to go back to the previous layout: if it ain’t broke, don't fix it.
I don’t like long discussions, so I just read that and moved on, but I do like to understand human behavior. Did you realize that most people just hate change? It is human nature. In that particular case, people were used to the previous layout. They knew how to use it. Now someone simply goes there and changes everything. Why?! Now they will have to learn it all again. As Woodrow Wilson once said, “If you want to make enemies, try to change something.”
But what about the other side of the coin? Did the complainers even think about it for a second? The change was made by the staff. They put effort into it. I am quite convinced that they were trying to improve the system, rather than bothering users. Have they succeeded? I don’t know. But that’s not exactly the point. The point is, nearly every time someone says “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” there is someone on the other side trying to improve things.
Where are you, in situations like that? Are you the one who always complains? Or are you the one who embraces changes and gives them an honest try before judging?
In a deeper sense, we are talking about comfort zone here. “If it ain’t broke, don't fix it” is a comfort-zone mindset. Just stay where you are. Do not improve. Do not try anything new. Just keep the status quo.
Again, I do understand the pain of having to deal with new situations. It easier to stay where we are now. On the other hand, should we criticize someone for trying to improve things? I don’t think so. And that’s exactly what we do when we say “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
One of the fundamental requirements of most quality systems is continuous improvement, not keeping things as they are. Therefore, when you hear someone saying that–or even catch yourself thinking like that–take this a red flag. It is just a desperate cry to stay in the comfort zone. Resist it. Staying in the comfort zone doesn’t lead to any improvement.
My suggestion? Replace the poor “if it ain’t broke, don't fix it” mindset with Tim Duncan’s advice:
Good, better, best.
Never let it rest.
Until your good is better
and your better is best.
Much better, isn’t it?
Engineering is one of the most specialized fields of translation. It demands extensive knowledge and, if the translator intends to deliver clear and accurate translation, they need to have a thorough understanding of the subject.
We have seen numerous cases of people translating material in this field without fully understanding the principles behind a given machine, equipment, or system, and the result is inevitably poor, with sentences that range from slightly confusing to utterly unintelligible.
Translators who wish to succeed in this field should be familiar with the types of documents that are common in this industry, such as technical reports, drawings, and specifications, user manuals, safety guidelines, quality standards, certificates, and others.
Since small mistakes can have enormous consequences, it is crucial for the translator to have the right skills. A safer path for your company is to look for a professional translator with an Engineering degree from a renowned university, besides relevant experience in the field. Otherwise, it may be venturing into dangerous territory.
At MRC Translations, we care about your reputation and brand image. Does your company need help with engineering translation? Please do not hesitate to contact us.
Brazil is the second largest manufacturer and consumer of ceramic tiles in the world, after China. Over the last years, it has experienced considerable growth, overtaking traditional manufacturers such as Italy and Spain.
According to the National Association of Ceramics Industry (Anicer), Brazil has a prominent characteristic: its ceramics industry is widely scattered, with about 100 manufacturers, and none of them has a market share larger than 10%.
Although ceramic manufacturing companies are spread across 18 states, two industrial hubs concentrate more than 80% of the national production. One is located in the state of Santa Catarina and plays a significant role in Brazilian exports. The other is in the state of São Paulo, more specifically in the Santa Gertrudes region, and it is the largest ceramic manufacturing center in the Americas (and the second largest in the world). This region comprises the cities of Limeira, Cordeirópolis, Santa Gertrudes, Rio Claro, Ipeúna, Piracicaba, and Iracemápolis, which account for about 65% of the ceramic production in Brazil.
Santa Gertrudes hosts a large event in the field of ceramics: the International Meeting of Suppliers for the Ceramics and Mining Industry (Forn&Cer, Encontro Internacional de Fornecedores para Indústria Cerâmica e Mineração).
International events like this are great business opportunities, but they are even better if your company is well prepared. Have you ever considered localizing your marketing material? If you take into account that Brazilians have a very low level of Business English, speaking their language can make a huge difference for your business.
Does your company need help with translation and localization? MRC Translations can help you. Click here for more information.
Matheus R. Chaud
I am a native Brazilian Portuguese speaker with extensive experience in translation, proofreading, editing, subtitling, and quality assurance.