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What is NLG and how does it work with the Natural Language Process (NLP)?

NLG is a type of AI and language translation technology that is becoming more prominent in business platforms.

NLG standards for Natural Language Generation and it is changing the way we interact with machines and the way businesses gather data. What is NLG exactly, and what makes it different from other technologies? With the compound annual growth rate of the NLG market expected to reach 1.6 billion dollars by 2027, you need to know about NLG.

What is NLG?

Chatbot

A chatbot, which is often used for FAQ portions of websites and customer support, is one type of NLG. – Photo by mohamed_hassan on Pixabay

NLG is a type of AI that automatically processes data into sentences and stories, in either written or narrative form, in a way that’s easy for us humans to understand. The NLG can take massive amounts of data from pre-set templates to form a sentence, reply, or inquiry that reads like a natural human conversation. This data and our inputted responses to this data create and add to a database of information that businesses and researchers can use to improve a process or product. 

When is NLG used?

Alexa

Any time you beckon Alexa or Siri, an NLG has been used to create that product and experience – Photo by Anete Lusina from Pexels

NLG is being used for a vast array of applications, and chances are that you’re already encountering and engaging with this technology daily. Here are a few broad ways that both businesses and consumers use NLG,

  • Chatbots or conversational AI assistants – Used on websites and business platforms to automatically answer customer inquiries. The advanced use of NLG carries a two-way conversation and responds to verbal commands. Examples are platforms Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant and Cortana. 
  • Machine translation tools – Tools that translate one language to another, such as Google Translate.
  • AI blog writers – Used for content creation. The NLG uses one language model and data set to write sentences and full-length articles. 
  • Analytics – The NLG is created to detail insights from business data and reports, such as financial reports and spreadsheets and put it all into a format or narrative that’s easy to understand for businesses and their customers. 
  • Automated leading emails and messages – This NLG creates predictive text for users when writing in emails and messaging platforms. 
  • AI transcription tools – With speech recognition, the NLG takes audio and turns it into text.
  • Semantic analysis A platform used to determine what language best resonates and reaches a specific audience of which the NLG is used to create messages to which the customer is likely to respond.  

NLG has become one of the translation solutions used by global businesses as part of their website localization, eLearning translation and more. NLG is used as part of the machine translation post-editing process used by international translation companies and translation agencies online

How the Natural Language Process (NLP) works

Computer AI

NLP is a series of Ais that work in a relationship with a user to create and exchange of information that benefits the user and the business.. – Photo by geralt on Pixabay

 

NLP is a blanket term that refers to NLG and Natural Language Understanding (NLU). NLP is a framework that converts unstructured data to structured data. NLU is the ability of a machine to use syntactic and semantic analysis to gather meaning from a piece of text or speech. It is the NLG that allows devices to create content from the NLU data content. In short, NLU lets a computer understand what data the user is giving it. At the same time, NLG provides data back to the user from the computer in a way the user can understand, thus the Natural Language Process.

Making an NLG requires several steps and a substantial amount of NLU data to create content that resonates and sounds natural. Whether it’s a chatbot or a machine translation tool, these are some of the steps and considerations that go into making an NLG,

  • Content analysis – This step analyses data to identify the main topics that should be included and what the result of the process is expected to be.  
  • Data interpretation – As patterns are identified, they are put into context for machine learning.
  • Document structure and sentence aggregation A document is created along with a narrative structure with the interpreted data. From there, relevant sentences are isolated and combined to depict the topic accurately. 
  • Grammar – Grammar rules, along with the syntactical structure of the source language, are added to ensure that the text sounds natural.
  • Final output – The final output is presented in a template or format of the programmer’s selection. Such as a message from a chatbot, a piece of the translated text, an audio reply for personal assistant devices etc. 

The Future of NLG

Woman on phone transit

NLG is used in a variety of apps and processes on our phones. – Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

NLG has created ways for businesses to communicate data efficiently and effectively, which increases productivity and reduces business costs. It presents data and information in an accessible manner while collecting big data that will lead to specific insights into a business. NLG has been used in different business industries, from insurance, retail, finance, media, eLearning platforms, eCommerce and eCommerce translation, manufacturing, translation management and more. 

While technology has come a long way, NLG is still limited compared to real human writing and semantics. NLG can only act on the NLU data, which, currently, doesn’t stack up to the ingenuity of human writing and content, which makes the quality of NLG content one of its biggest weak points. NLG, however, is not without its merit as the NLP is superb at generating human insights from big data, especially at a volume that we, as humans, are not capable of producing. As NLG can be used in various markets, it is a valuable tool that can be used in many ways for any business. Take translation and localization, for example.

For businesses that want translation and localization services to expand into other global markets, NLG is an important part of a quality translation. Translators use machines to help expedite the translation process and fine-tune it with their human expertise. This process is called machine translation post-editing.

Related: Machine, mind, or machine and mind: how to best deploy today’s machine translation solutions

Into23 provides translation management and translation solutions that cater to your business. Into23 can help you use an NLG in multiple languages for your business; whether it’s a customer support chatbot or transcription services for a voice assistant, Into23 can help your customers interact with your business better.

Does my business need website localization?

If you have any international business, the resounding answer is yes.

It’s nearly impossible to get recognised as a business today without an online presence, so it would be neglectful not to have one as part of a marketing strategy. So when do you start to consider website translation? And more importantly, what about website localization?

What is website localization?

Localization is the process of having your website be international but sound local. It means adapting your website so that your brand is approachable in a target language. That means not just translating the words from one language to another but also considering the cultural context of the target language you’re translating to and the currency. A plain translation will not be sufficient enough to win over your new audience, as what’s said in one language may not translate so well to another. That’s where localization steps in. 

Related: Words that altered history – translation blunders in international relations

International translation companies specialise in website localization and translation management for businesses to ensure that a company and their brand are understood and received well in a new target language and area. 

When do you need website localization?

English

It is no longer viable to have a website with an international reach available in only one language. – Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Website translation or any localization and translation is often seen as a burden, and its necessity is sometimes questioned. Why not just leave the website in English? If you have any international customers, you not only owe these customers the diligence of having the content properly translated into their native language, but you are missing out on revenue by not doing so. 

It’s no longer acceptable to have a monolingual website when you have an international base of customers. English may still be dominant, but this landscape is quickly changing. Estimates find that English makes up for around 60% of the content on the internet, yet native English speakers only make up around 5% of the global population.

Still not sure if you’re ready? Ask yourself the following.

  • Are you already selling or shipping out to international locations?
  • Are you receiving inquiries from other countries or in other languages different from your website?
  • What countries show in Google Analytics from your audience data? 

What about if you have customers that are bilingual or non-native speakers of other languages? Well, a study performed by the European Commission in 2014 surveyed internet users across the EU, of which English is generally well used and received, found that,

  • Just 53% of users were willing to accept an English version of a website if there were no options in their native language. 
  • 44% of users worried that they would miss out on key information on a website if it were not available in their language. This number was over 50% in countries such as Spain, Portugal, and Greece.  

The takeaway? If you are getting traction internationally and you’ve not localized your website, it’s time to. 

Related: How languages rise and fall & why English’s dominance is waning

Why do you need website localization?

Google translate cartoon

Don’t be this guy. Google Translate just doesn’t cut it when it comes to business. – Photo by mohamed_hassan on Pixabay

It’s currently estimated that 66% of users are using a machine translation when making a purchase online. Why is this acceptable when consumers could have a more efficient experience in their native language? Machine translation isn’t enough to guarantee purchase and can still confuse customers since machine translations without human editing often contain errors. If you truly want to be an international company or are thinking of becoming international, then you need a professional website translation service.

Related: Why Google Translate Isn’t Effective Enough for Business

An updated 2020 study by the Common Sense Advisory produced some eye-opening statistics. The study took samples from 29 different countries and asked users about making a purchase online and found the following remarkable results,

  • 40% of users will not purchase on a website in another language.
  • 73% of users want reviews of products in their native language.
  • 65% of users prefer content in their native language.

What’s more, in the last study performed in 2014, the following results were also found.

  • 30% of respondents stated that they never buy from English-language websites.
  • 56% of users boycott or avoid English-language websites to spend more time on sites in their native language. 

As international demand increases, especially with the ongoing pandemic, this need will only continue to increase. 

What will website localization help you with?

The benefits of localizing a website and using marketing translation services by far outweigh the effort and cost required to do it. – Photo from Pexels

Localizing a website will only benefit your company and open new opportunities that wouldn’t have been present otherwise. Here is what localization and translation can do for you.

  • Increase your ROI – As more research is performed on localization, the financial returns of the companies doing it are becoming obvious. The Localization Industry Standards Association wrote in 2007 that they estimated an ROI of $25 for every dollar spent on localization. Imagine how those numbers would stack up today. For example, in one case study, an Israeli retailer localized their website for the German market and saw their conversion double from 1 to 2%. They found nearly the same when localizing for the French market, as conversion rose from 0.67% to 1% after they launched the localized site.  
  • Enhancing Your Marketing Strategy When you localize your website, you have another opportunity to improve your SEO and marketing language, as localization gives unique opportunities specific to a language and a region. It also gives your brand a boost as it can reach more people, which will expand your brand. 

Conclusion? Website localization is the way forward for a global-minded website and business.

How to make the most of your website localization with marketing translation services

The only way to ensure a quality translation and localization of your website is to hire and partner with a marketing translation agency. It’s important to find a translation partner that knows your business and the areas that you’re aiming to localize. International translation companies have certified translators at their fingertips and know the ins and outs of translation management no matter what the project. Business translation and localization won’t have to feel overwhelming when you have professionals on your team to get it right. 

At Into23, we specialise in high-quality translation services in all languages with an impeccable turnaround so that your business can get global as fast as possible. From website localization services, eCommerce website translation, translation project management and more, Into23 has all of your translation solutions.

The history of translation and translation marketing

Marketing translation and translation, in general, have a long and robust history. How did the modern translation industry become what it is today?

What is translation? In its simple form, it means to turn symbols from one set to another, such as words from a body of text in one language to that of another. Translation and its emergence have played a very important role throughout history in bridging cultural and linguistic divides that have evolved through trade as well as a means of spreading traditions and religious beliefs. 

Where and how did translation evolve? How has translation changed today, and how will it be used in the future? 

Translation Origins

Sumerian bilingual text tablet

Sumerian bilingual text – Photo from Wikimedia Caption – “This is the first known Sumerian-Akkadian bilingual tablet which dates back to around 2270 BC. The practice of translation is believed to have begun in Mesopotamia.”

Scholars believe that writing began to emerge in humans some 5,550 years ago. First, with early pictorial signs in early Mesopotamian and Egypt, we have evidence of fully-formed writing platforms as early as 1300 BC in China. With the development of written communication, translation became a necessary means of communication for the growth of populations and trade. While translation started within the trade as a business translation for financial means, translation eventually found its way into culture, art, and religion as it proved to be an effective means of spreading your beliefs, values, and traditions to other people. 

The word “translation” and it’s meaning come from two different languages.  The word itself comes from Latin and means “to bring or carry across”, but its meaning is also derived from the Ancient Greek word metaphrasis, which means “to speak across”, which then led to the word metaphrase, which means “word for word”. While the meaning of translation comes from these ancient languages, it is believed that those in the Mesopotamian region were the first to practice the art of translation. 

St. Jerome Writing

“St. Jerome Writing” by the famous painter Caravaggio, painted in 1606.” – Image from Wikimedia.

One of the earliest known pieces to be translated is the Sumerian poem, the Epic of Gilgamesh, which was translated into Asian languages in 2100 BC. From there, one of the first known significant translations is that of the Old Testament in the 3rd century, as the bible was translated from Hebrew to Greek. Between A.D. 383 and 404, a man named Eusebius Hieronymus, or St. Jerome as he would become known, translated the bible from Greek to Latin. What made St. Jerome’s translation so innovative is that he first translated the text from Greek. Still, he then went back and checked his newly translated Latin text against the original Hebrew version (since he was fluent in all three languages) to increase the translation accuracy. St. Jerome also endorsed the transcreation method rather than the traditional word-for-word translation. In a letter St. Jerome wrote to his friend on the best methods of translation, he said,

For I myself not only admit but freely proclaim that in translating from the Greek, I render sense for sense and not word for word, except in the case of the Holy Scriptures, where even the order of the words is a mystery.”

With his masterful translation of the bible and the concepts that he created, St. Jerome became one of the most prominent translators in history. St. Jerome died on September 30th, 420, and since then, St. Jerome has become the patron saint of translators. September 30th is also officially recognised as International Translation Day. 

The evolution of translation

The earliest days of translation required the work of educated polyglots or at least bilinguals who would painstakingly translate passages of text by hand. This work would take translators months and sometimes even years to complete. The advent of the printing press made things somewhat easier as the translations became more consistent. 

With the printing press, documents only needed to be translated once before being typeset and then run repeatedly. While this method was more efficient in producing copies, if there were any errors in the translation, they too were also reproduced, and there wasn’t a quick method to fix this. As a result, any translations with errors used as foundational pieces for translation into other languages meant that further errors followed and compounded into the next translation. 

It wasn’t until the late 20th century, with the emergence of machine translation and machine translation post-editing, that made the translation process became more consistent.

Modern-day translation

Woman sitting at computer program

Machine translation has changed the translation industry forever. Machine translation post-editing has resulted in quality translations that are reliable and accurate.

With the emergence of machine translation and platforms like Google translate, anyone can get a quick and immediate translation of nearly any text. However, just like in the early days of translation, machine translation alone is prone to many translation errors, especially since machines can’t translate the cultural concepts, idioms, etc., that make human language so robust. Machine translations are decent at finding concordances at the sentence level but fall flat when making suggestions at a morphological level. This is why international translation companies now use machine and human translations in a process called machine translation post-editing.

Even with current technology, machine translation doesn’t compare to human translation, which is what makes machine translation post-editing the most effective means of translation. Translators use a machine to translate the text first, a process that helps expedite the translation process, and then once the content has gone through a machine, the translator will then go through it and edit and compare it to the original text. This results in an accurate, reliable, fast, and quality translation for the client or business.

Related: How to be a translator in 2022

Regarding translation management, translators today don’t need to be polyglots anymore. Still, most translation companies want translators who are experts in language pair translation, meaning a translator needs complete mastery of two languages, as well as subject-specific expertise (i.e. English-Chinese legal translation). Language pair translations ensure you get the most accurate and quality translation

Future of translation

iPad and world map

It’s easier than ever to take your business global- Photo by Geralt on Pixabay

While machines have made things easier in the translation industry, and I’m sure even St. Jerome would be impressed with the progress that has been made, as of yet, machine translation cannot operate alone and still requires the handy work of a professional translator. Using a professional translator is especially important in business as businesses today are not afforded the same luxuries of making translation errors as the early pioneers were. Companies today now use business translation services to ensure that they’re getting the best quality translation possible to represent and expand their brand. These companies use machine translation post-editing with qualified translation professionals to produce consistent results.

Related: Why Google Translate Isn’t Enough for Business

That is not to say that machine-alone translation isn’t being worked on, however. The Semantic Web or Web 3.0 is an extension of our current internet that is being worked on that aims to create instant translations of any language online, which would include any semantic or cultural content, and make the searches and the retrieval of this information universal. Web 3.0 aims to analyze every piece of data that is available on the internet and have it make sense in every language. This would create interactive pages that are no longer just text translations but include audio/voice and all other forms of media. While the Semantic Web sounds impressive, the fact that there are over 6,800 languages worldwide and that we are still confined to our current means of machine translation means that this idea is a very long way from becoming reality. 

In the meantime, quality translations are best left to the professionals at international translation companies like Into23. Into23 offers localization and translation services in any language with professional translators from all over the globe. Into23 can help your brand or business reach new markets in other languages and offer translation solutions for every industry. Check out our services today and get a free quote.