Despite the challenge of finding linguists who speak these rare languages, Ulatus was able to successfully execute this assignment and helped the client meet their objective of global outreach...
With operations in 170+ countries, the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) is an American multinational information technology company headquartered in Armonk, New York. Nicknamed Big Blue, IBM is one of the world’s largest employers with 350,000+ employees, who are known as "IBMers." With at least 70 percent of IBMers based outside the US, India houses the largest number of IBM employees.
They came to us with a request for translating content in indigenous languages, a few of which were spoken by rare African tribes. They required these languages translated as part of their brand outreach.
According to the Atlas of World Languages of UNESCO, 64 languages among those that are critically endangered have only 1 to 2 speakers. According to the United Nations, every two weeks, one language is lost. Language is a necessity for communication, but with more languages on the verge of disappearing, something has to be done. About 6,000 languages are bound to be extinct due to the loss of native speakers, integration of other similar languages, and because more people prefer to use the more dominant languages. Everyone’s life is affected by language. Just imagine life without it.
This was not a usual request. We were provided a list of indigenous and extinct language pairs in which the client requested the translation. The languages requested were:
English - Bantu Swahili, Inuktun, Hausa A, Náhuatl, Ojibwa, Tlingit, Dine, Quechua, Tahitian, Sami, Tamazight, Kalaallisut, te reo Māori, and Aweer.
A lot of research was required to find the right bilingual linguists who really understand, speak, and translate these rare languages.
Finding bilingual people is one thing, but to deliver quality is another. Considering this assignment was related to rarely spoken indigenous languages, we had to be meticulous and ensure that the tone and style consistency are maintained. The context of the project was explained to the linguists so they could perform the translation accurately. Not only this, we had to adapt to innovative ways and processes to confirm that the quality delivered is the best, and we are able to maintain our 99.45% ratio of happy clients.
Choosing linguists for this project was not going to be easy. These languages are getting extinct around the world rapidly; only tribes in remote areas speak rare languages. They still speak the language they learned as a child. However, many of them have children who have no interest in learning or speaking their language, preferring to speak the dominant language in their locality or country. Also, part of the government initiative is to put in concerted efforts to revive these languages, where it encourages companies to talk to the native people in their local language; else, this whole phenomenon would cause languages to become extinct.
When we started our work on this project, we had to first understand the languages and to which part of the world they belonged to. And then, we reviewed our extensive database of linguists, where we found some matches. However, we had to spend countless hours/days working tirelessly in exploring all possible linguist databases, government institutions to which these languages belong to in finding the linguists needed for this project. Our team onboarded the right set of linguists who worked on this assignment and made sure that they provided top quality service.
Since this translation was done in multiple languages and we had been given a set of rare indigenous languages, we set up a series of calls with the selected expert linguists to make them understand the context. We ensured that the final translations that were submitted to the client were aligned to their brand outreach and met their objective of communicating the message in the rare native language.
We had to ensure that there was no compromise on the quality delivered for these rare languages. We applied a blind audit and quality check system to our process so that we get the real evaluation of the translated quantity. We did not take the traditional route of the double or triple-check system as that wouldn’t have sufficed in this situation. The innovative way of blind audit and quality check was the best way forward. The client's positive feedback at the end of the project proved that our approach was spot-on in delivering the assignment on time, along with top-notch quality.
Although we are capable of translating rare languages today, there will come a time in the very near future when these rare languages are no longer available.