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Artificial intelligence: new opportunities for translators and other professionals

The Lithuanian business news portal Verslo žinios has published an article by Eurotradus on how artificial intelligence is affecting various professions, including translators. Here are the key messages in English:

  • According to ChatGPT, artificial intelligence (AI) may have an impact on different professions, but their complete disappearance is less likely. Professions related to data entry and processing, routine manual work, financial analysis, accounting, customer service, transportation and delivery drivers are examples of those that could be affected.
  • The translation industry has also undergone significant changes as machine translation continues to evolve. Automated translation systems can now handle various texts with good quality, and translators often engage in post-editing rather than translating from scratch.
  • AI still relies on the expertise of language specialists because it does not possess real-world knowledge or understanding. After all, ChatGPT is based on language and text, which is why this technology is called a Large Language Model (LLM).
  • In response to ChatGPT, Google launched Bard, which is also LLM-based and named after professional storytellers in the ancient Celtic cultures. It is not yet available in all countries. The Eurotradus team is involved in the linguistic testing of Bard. In addition, Google has announced that it is developing another LLM system, Gemini, which is expected to be even more advanced.
  • LLM’s can perform tasks such as information retrieval, creative writing, consulting on various topics, coding assistance, text summarization, content generation, learning aid, problem solving, text editing and translation.
  • While ChatGPT is not perfect as a translator, it excels as an English language editor, proficient in revising, paraphrasing and rewriting texts in the desired style.
  • AI should be seen as an additional opportunity to perform certain tasks faster while maintaining quality. Not so long ago, we used typewriters to typeset texts, and there was a profession called typist. Now we’re going even further: software instantly recognizes human speech, converts it to text, translates it, and provides AI-based voice-overs in foreign languages.
  • The emergence of new professions, such as prompt engineers, highlights the need for specialists who formulate precise questions for language models like ChatGPT to maximize their capabilities.
  • It is crucial for higher education institutions to keep pace with AI technologies and prepare professionals for new emerging roles.

You can read the full article in Lithuanian here.

Networking Globally: make new contacts fast and efficiently

Networking Globally is a brand-new online international initiative by Eurotradus. It focuses on virtual speed networking and provides a great opportunity to make new contacts quickly and easily. Networking Globally is the effective and efficient solution to establish new partnerships, refresh old contacts and stay up-to-date. For more information on how it works, please refer to the Networking Globally website.

7 facts about the Lithuanian language

The Lithuanian language is one of the oldest languages in the world.
“Anyone wishing to hear how Indo-Europeans spoke should come and listen to a Lithuanian peasant,” stated Antoine Meillet, one of the most influential French linguists a century ago. Here are some basic facts that will help to better know the Lithuanian language.

The archaic structure of the Lithuanian language

The ancient Balts were settled and they were not inclined to mix with other tribes, so their languages maintained their ancient form. There are about 7,000 languages still spoken in the world. They can be grouped into language families according to their similarity and kinship (common origin): Indo-European, Sino-Tibetan, Niger-Congo, Afro-Asiatic, Austronesian and others. The Lithuanian as a Baltic language belongs to the Indo-European, one of the most widely-spoken language families in the world. The ancestors of today’s speakers of Indo-European languages spoke a single language, which linguists call Proto-Indo-European (PIE). The scholarly consensus is that Lithuanian is the language that has retained most of the features of the Protolanguage, i.e. it is characterised by a very ancient linguistic structure: declensions (of nouns, adjectives and pronouns), short and long vowels, diphthongs, etc.

The diacritic letters appeared somewhat later, when the vowel plus nasal consonant combinations an, en, un, in became long vowels ą, ę, ų, į (e.g. žansis > žąsis). So, in fact, the diacritical marks are not a feature of antiquity. The Lithuanian language has many similarities with Sanskrit – the classical language of ancient India, e.g. Sanskrit ákṣi – Lithuanian akis (‘eye’), Sanskrit ávi – Lithuanian avis (‘sheep’), Sanskrit dánta – Lithuanian dantis (‘tooth’), Sanskrit devá – Lithuanian dievas (‘god’), Sanskrit dína – Lithuanian diena (‘day’), Sanskrit sūnu – Lithuanian sūnus (‘son’). Sanskrit is still used as a scholarly and liturgical language in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.

Probably no one would be able to unequivocally assert which is the very oldest language in the world; but it’s a fact that the Lithuanian language is one of the oldest and most archaic living languages in the world, and it has preserved more features of PIE than any other Indo-European language.

Ancient spoken language, modern written language

It is not clear when the Lithuanian first began to be written. The official written languages of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania were Latin, Chancery Slavonic and Polish.  In the long run, as the use of Polish increased due to the gradual Polonisation of the gentry during the 18th century, the Polish language encroached in all fields, even becoming a threat to the role of spoken Lithuanian; but fortunately, the common people kept on speaking Lithuanian.

The de facto beginning of the contemporary Lithuanian written language is related to the appearance of the first known Lithuanian printed book in 1547 – the Catechism by Martynas Mažvydas, a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. The first known printed version of the Lithuanian alphabet is included in the book too. It is true to say that isolated texts written in Lithuanian before this date are known to exist.

Not every Lithuanian of today would be able to read the first Lithuanian book

In the Catechism of Mažvydas you will not find the currently-used Lithuanian diacritic letters ą, č, ę, ė, į, š, ų, ū, ž. The Catechism of Mažvydas is written in Gothic script, a specialised type of Latin script, which is characterised by ornately scrolled letters. Here is a page from the Catechism of Mažvydas:

If we rewrite this in normal Latin letters, we get:

Bralei seseris imkiet mani ir skaitikiet
Ir tatai skaitidami permanikiet.
Maksla schito tewai iusu trakszdawa tureti,
Ale to negaleia ne wenu budu gauti.

In modern Lithuanian it would appear thus:

Broliai, seserys, imkit mane ir skaitykit
Ir tatai skaitydami permanykit.
Mokslo šito tėvai jūsų trokšdavo turėti,
Ale to negalėjo nė vienu būdu gauti.

Today’s Lithuanian alphabet is a supplemented Latin alphabet

The contemporary Lithuanian alphabet (abėcėlė) consist of 32 letters. Diacritical marks – ą, č, ę, ė, į, š, ų, ū, ž – appeared in Lithuanian relatively recently, only a few centuries ago. The alphabet published in the Mažvydas Catechism contained no diacritic letters. We see 23 capital letters in Latin script and 25 lower case letters in Gothic script. For example, Mažvydas used the German letter combination sch to represent the today’s Lithuanian š (in English it is sh). Although the letter w is used in the Catechism, Mažvydas did not include it in the alphabetic table.

Lithuanian language alphabet in the Catechism of Martynas Mažvydas

Some diacritical marks were borrowed from Czechs and Poles a few centuries ago

Since the Latin alphabet lacked enough letters to represent all the sounds of the Lithuanian language, solutions were sought by looking at the languages of their neighbours. In the 19th century Lithuanians borrowed letters with the caron č, š and ž from Czech. The Czechs had started using them in their language in the 15th century. They were introduced by Jan Hus, an activist of the Czech national movement, as he worked on creating a national system of writing for the Czech language.

The letters with the diacritic hook (ogonek) ą and ę were borrowed from Polish, and on their example the letters į and ų were created. However, the pronunciation of ą and ę in Lithuanian and in Polish is different: The diacritic hook in Lithuanian means a long vowel but in Polish it is pronounced as a nasal sound. The letter with the overdot ė was first used in the 17th century by one of the pioneers of Lithuanian writing, the Evangelical Lutheran pastor Daniel Klein in his book, the first Grammar of the Lithuanian language. The letter ū was invented over a century ago by the Lithuanian linguist Jonas Jablonskis, known as “the father of the Lithuanian language”. In 1901 he published Lietuviškos kalbos gramatika (“A Grammar of the Lithuanian language”), which included the alphabet as Lithuanians still use it today.

Unsuccessful attempt to force the Russian alphabet on Lithuanians

The Lithuanian language suffered a severe period of hardship from the end of the 18th century until the early 20th century, when it was subjugated by the Russian Empire, with the Tsars implementing an assimilationist policy. The Tsar’s régime banned the publication of books in Lithuanian using the Latin alphabet. They could only be published if they were printed in “graždanka” (Civil Script) – a modified version of Cyrillic. Some books and calendars were published using this Russian-based alphabet; however, the Lithuanian national movement was strengthening at the time and these publications were not popular, they were boycotted.

First Lithuanian book published using Russian letters

Kauniškiai dialect is the basis of Standard Lithuanian

Standard Lithuanian is based on the dialect called Kauniškiai. Just to be clear, this dialect is not the one spoken in Kaunas, Lithuania’s second largest city. We are talking about the dialect to the southwest of Kaunas (Marijampolė, Prienai, Kalvarija, etc.), also known as the Suvalkiečių dialect. There are two basic dialects in Lithuania: The High Lithuanian dialect (aukštaičių tarmė) and the Low Lithuanian (Samogitian) dialect (žemaičių tarmė). Each of them is divided into various subdialects. In the 19th century, the people of the Suvalkija region played a major role in the formation of Standard Lithuanian, as that is where the leaders of the national renaissance movement such as Jonas Basanavičius and Vincas Kudirka, among others, were active. They organised the printing of Lithuanian books and periodicals, which required standardisation of the language so that everyone could read it. The major contributor to the standardisation of the Lithuanian language was the linguist Jonas Jablonskis, also a native of Suvalkija. The newly-emerging Standard Lithuanian was used for publication of Lithuanian books and periodicals, e.g. the newspapers Aušra (‘Dawn’) and Varpas (‘Bell’). Because of the Russian Tsar’s ban on the use of the Lithuanian alphabet in publishing, the material was printed in so called Lithuania Minor, which belonged to Prussia (German Empire), and it was distributed in Lithuania and abroad.

Although the written Lithuanian language is relatively ‘young’ (barely a century has gone by since the final standardisation of the alphabet and writing system), the spoken Lithuanian language is old and archaic, having been able to survive for thousands of years and to get through various attempts at robbing Lithuanian speakers of their identity. Unlike in the ancient days, modern Lithuanians are no longer stay-at-homes; in fact, they are inclined to migrate. About a million residents have left Lithuania since independence was restored in 1990. Some are returning, and others may return, but the majority will stay abroad, and Lithuanian will not be the native language of their children or grandchildren. Today, the same as several hundred, one hundred or fifty years ago, for Lithuanians it is important to maintain the oldest Indo-European language, whether they live in Lithuania or abroad.

Dainius Sabaliauskas
CEO of Eurotradus translation company
President of the Association of Lithuanian Translation Companies

(Sources: Universal Lithuanian Encyclopaedia, Dictionary of the Lithuanian Language, Digital Collections of the Vilnius University Library, Publications of the State Commission of the Lithuanian Language)

This article is also published on the news portals We love Lithuania and The Lithuania Tribune.

5 interesting facts about the German language

1. German is the most widely used language in the European Union. German is the sole official language in Germany, Austria and Lichtenstein, while it is one of such in Switzerland, Belgium and Luxembourg. Around 100 million native German speakers reside in Europe.

2. All nouns in German start with capital letters.

3. German is mainly feminine, as nearly half of nouns are in the feminine gender while masculine reaches one third and one fifth is in the neuter gender.

4. “A girl” in German is in the neuter gender though. No panic here however, that`s only peculiarities of grammar! As a matter of fact, all nouns with a suffix “-chen” are used in neuter gender.

5. German is known and famous for possibly the longest words in the world. German allows joining many words into one. Significantly long words are not common in daily use of the language, but they are more applied in formal contexts, for example: Rinderkennzeichnungsfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz (law on delegation of duties for supervision of cattle marking and beef labeling), Kraftfahrzeughaftpflichtversicherung (motor vehicle liability insurance).

European Language Industry survey – début of Lithuanians and an important message to interns

The results of the European Language Industry survey 2019 have been published. This year’s edition of the survey is the most successful one since its start in 2013. It includes responses not only from Europe, but also from North and South America, Asia, Africa and Oceania – in total 1,404 respondents from 55 countries. Northern Europe, including the Baltic States, was distinguished as a separate region.

Lithuania has participated for the first time. Although the Lithuanian participants were not numerous – only 23 (7 translation companies, 14 freelancers, 1 translation department and 1 training institute) – they still outnumbered their peers from Latvia and Estonia.

The survey was fairly broad in scope, but in summary, the translation industry has concerns about the constant pressure on prices, growing competition and the increasing use of machine translation; although the latter is only used regularly by a minority of translation companies and translators. For the first time, the survey assessed the gender breakdown in the sector. Females clearly prevailed in the freelance category (80%) among respondents, with a nearly equal distribution among the representatives of the translation companies.

Lithuania took a slightly different position when assessing the added value of internship to the company. Unlike most, Lithuanians do not believe that interns contribute significantly to creating an added value of translation companies. Still, good news for students – Lithuanian translation companies, including Eurotradus, intend to continue cooperation, i.e. to employ interns.

The full report of the survey is available here.

Is artificial intelligence threatening the global translation industry?

On the initiative of Eurotradus, the Association of Lithuanian Translation Companies and the European Commission organised Lithuania’s first joint conference for translation agencies, institutions, translators and interpreters on 29 November 2018 in Vilnius.

The conference was moderated by Dainius Sabaliauskas, CEO of the Eurotradus translation agency and president of the Association of Lithuanian Translation Companies. Arnoldas Pranckevičius, head of the European Commission’s Representation in Lithuania, was welcoming the participants. More than 130 language specialists from all over Lithuania attended this one-day event at the Novotel hotel. Additionally, the conference was streamed live over the internet in order to communicate with and inform hundreds of people remotely, including students of institutions of higher education, i.e. Vilnius University, Kaunas University of Technology and Mykolas Romeris University.

The online audience was given the opportunity to ask questions, express their opinions and take part in the surveys just like the audience in the conference hall. The main focus of the conference: Is artificial intelligence a threat to the global translation industry? The program included topics like fast-evolving translation technologies, personal data protection and the latest developments in the translation market.

The conference was concluded by the discussion on collaboration between translators, interpreters, translation agencies and institutions. A video recording of the conference, presentations and survey results can be found on the event’s website. More information concerning the conference and technologies can be found on Delfi.lt, the major Lithuanian news portal. Insights and opinions can be viewed on the Facebook pages of Eurotradus and the Association of Lithuanian Translation Companies.

Eurotradus at “Sail of Shanghai 2018”

On 6–7 September 2018, we attended the largest independent Chinese trade fair in Lithuania. The Cruising Exhibition for Economic and Cultural Cooperation “Sail of Shanghai” along with the Belt and Road initiative sailed to Kaunas this year.

For this well-known Chinese exhibition, Eurotradus has not only been a passenger but an active member of the ambitious crew of Chinese and Lithuanian exhibitors and contributors. Almost 70 companies participated in the economic & trade event, covering such areas as home appliances, textile, clothing, hardware, electronics and new energy technologies. Navigated by our two sophisticated interpreters who translated from Chinese to English, Lithuanian, and vice versa, this voyage became a valuable experience for all participants. Within a tight schedule full of workshops, presentations and seminars, our interpreters provided professional interpreting, proofed intercultural competences and won the audience attention through profound knowledge of various industries. Our interpreters went the extra mile for an even better understanding and deeper connection which has been acknowledged by all exhibitors.

The “Sail of Shanghai” is aimed at injecting new momentum into full-range, broad, multi-level economic and cultural cooperation with Shanghai. Lithuania has an especially great potential in information technology, high-tech, life sciences and laser technologies. According to Ina Marčiulionytė, the Ambassador of Lithuania in China, the country wants to strengthen cooperation and exchanges with Shanghai in various fields, and to promote the establishment of friendly relations between the cities of Shanghai and Lithuania’s second-largest city Kaunas. The exchange project was organised by the Shanghai People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (SPAFFC), the Shanghai “B&R” Trade and Exhibition Committee in cooperation with Versli Lietuva as well as the Kaunas municipality.

Charged with trust, stability, common commitment and a collective logic that goes beyond the individual, together with our interpreters and our partner Versli Lietuva, we managed to guide the ship into the Baltic Business sea safely. “Xie xie” to everybody who contributed to this special event!

Eurotradus at the international workshop “German Studies and Market Requirements”

Dainius Sabaliauskas, head of the Eurotradus translation agency and President of the Association of Lithuanian Translation Companies, speaking at the international workshop “German Studies and Market Requirements” (Germanistik für den Beruf), drew attention to the importance of the German language in the translation sector. The value of trade between Lithuania and Germany is counted in billions of euros. Germany is Lithuania’s second-largest trading partner on the basis of annual turnover. Therefore, there is always a demand in Lithuania for German-speaking specialists, especially qualified translators of the German language. This workshop was held at the end of March 2018 on the initiative of the Department of German Language at Vilnius University.

About 100 students are studying German Philology and German Language in the Faculty of Philology at Vilnius University as their principal or accompanying subjects (Bachelor’s and Master’s studies). It’s true that in secondary schools, German as a second foreign language is chosen by only a few students – less than one tenth. Employer representatives who participated in the discussion stressed that people who learn not only English, but also German, have a much greater range of employment opportunities. “Englisch ist ein Muss, Deutsch ist ein Plus.” (“English is a necessity, German is an advantage”).

How does a modern translation agency work

In cooperation with Lithuanian universities, EUROTRADUS – a translation and localisation company – continues a series of lectures about modern translation technologies. In February 2018, EUROTRADUS representatives presented the way modern translation agencies operate to the undergraduate and postgraduate students of Vilnius University. Students were acquainted with project management systems and computer-assisted translation tools, requirements of the ISO 17100 standard for translation services, and the peculiarities of translation work for agencies and translators. Moreover, this year, as every year, 6 students have joined EUROTRADUS for an internship.

EUROTRADUS: modern technologies support export to foreign markets

EUROTRADUS translation and localisation company shared its experience in using modern technologies with business people in different regions of Lithuania. In March–November 2017, Dainius Sabaliauskas, CEO of EUROTRADUS, did presentations at the VERSLO GAZELĖ (BUSINESS GAZELLE) conferences in the cities of Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipėda, Šiauliai, Panevėžys, Alytus, Utena and Telšiai. In addition, he spoke to regional business leaders on aspects of cooperation with clients and partners across the globe, differences between languages and cultures, and the importance of professional translation and localisation for the export of goods and services to foreign markets and the expansion of international business. These conferences are hosted by Verslo Žinios (Business News), a major business news portal and newspaper in Lithuania.

More information:
Congratulations to Gazelles of Vilnius region
Kaunas is experiencing a renaissance and will not slow down
Klaipėda is looking for new winds to grow
Gazelles in Šiauliai: a time for optimism has started
Panevėžys: Excelling in industry, struggling with workforce
Lack of workers challenges Alytus Gazelles
Gazelle 2017 in Utena: how will we be competing tomorrow?
Gazelles in Telšiai are very dependent on one factory