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Nataly Kelly
Nataly Kelly is the VP of Market Development at Smartling, the cloud-based enterprise translation management company.

Her latest book, “Found in Translation: How Language Shapes Our Lives and Transforms the World,” was published by Perigee/Penguin(USA) in October 2012.

Her previous book, “Telephone Interpreting: A Comprehensive Guide to the Profession,” is the first full-length book ever published on the topic, and has received praise from industry gurus and academics at leading universities. She has formally studied 7 languages, has traveled to 34 countries, and has obtained higher education on 3 continents.

A former Fulbright scholar in sociolinguistics, Nataly has published articles on various aspects of Ecuadorian Spanish in academic journals from Colombia and Mexico. She also writes about community interpreting and its impact on the integration of linguistic minorities in highly diverse societies, with a special focus on the role of emerging technologies.

Nataly is a certified court interpreter (Spanish), has worked as a freelance translator and editor, and is a familiar face on the language industry conference circuit. She has served as an elected member of the board of directors of the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care and currently serves on the American Translators Association interpreter certification committee as well as the advocacy committee for the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators.

As a consultant, Nataly has assisted with the design of a language access curriculum for Georgetown University Medical School and presented to health care providers as a member of a national speaker’s bureau for Pfizer’s Quality Forum programs. She has served as an invited speaker on the language industry for the European Commission, and was a member of the National Project Advisory Committee for a web-based training program for culturally and linguistically appropriate disaster response offered through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health.

Entries by Nataly Kelly

Multilingual Superbowl Ad Displays Linguistic Diversity -- and Native Heritage

(1) Comments | Posted February 6, 2014 | 3:39 PM

Earlier this week, I wrote about the much-talked-about television advertisement from Coca-Cola that aired during the Super Bowl, featuring "America the Beautiful" in many languages.

The ad stirred America's melting pot in more ways than one. Many of the reactions were negative, but many were also positive. To follow up, a company spokesperson from Coca-Cola reached out with the company's official statement:

For centuries America has opened its arms to people of many countries who have helped to build this great nation. "It's Beautiful" provides a snapshot of the real lives of Americans representing diverse ethnicities, religions, races and families, all found in the United States. All those featured in the ad are Americans and "America The Beautiful" was sung by bilingual American young women. We believe "It's Beautiful" is a great example of the magic that makes our country so special, and a powerful message that spreads optimism, promotes inclusion and celebrates humanity - values that are core to Coca-Cola.

Celebrating diversity. Who could argue with that?

However, a second look at the ad reveals that there is something even more important about it than just the reflection of America's linguistic diversity on the surface.

Coca-Cola featured the Native American language Keres in the ad, a fact that probably went unnoticed by all but around 11,000 people in the American Southwest who actually speak this ancestral language.

The song lyrics did not even exist in Keres prior to the Coca-Cola project -- they had to be translated, which was no small task. As Christy, the Keres singer in the ad explains, "Translating the words to 'America the Beautiful' was difficult because Keres is not a written language, so we had to go back to our elders to help translate."

Giving credit where credit is due, Coca-Cola did not choose to feature just the languages of America's many citizens who were originally born elsewhere, but included one language that was spoken here long before English ever arrived. Thanks to the ad, the beautiful sounds of Keres were heard by the 111.5 million viewers who tuned in for the Superbowl.

Attention for Native American languages, like Keres, by major brands such as Coca-Cola is a more common occurrence these days. Microsoft has localized Windows into Cherokee and Google has supported various projects for languages with very small populations of speakers. George Lucas and his film company even recently subtitled a Star Wars movie in Navajo. When they do so respectfully -- involving the communities in the decisions about their language and how it will be used -- companies reap many benefits while making a contribution to society at large.

America is diverse, not just geographically, but culturally and linguistically as well. Let's hope that the trend of shining a light on less common and endangered languages, especially ones that help us appreciate this country's native heritage,...

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Coca-Cola Super Bowl Ad Reflects the Reality of a Multilingual America

(185) Comments | Posted February 3, 2014 | 7:44 AM

One of the most controversial Super Bowl ads this year did not rely on the usual tactics, such as humor, shock, a catchy tune, or clever turns of phrase. Instead, the much-talked-about advertisement from Coca-Cola simply presented the song, "America, the Beautiful" in seven different languages. Outrage swiftly ensued, as...

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Why Machines Alone Cannot Solve the World's Translation Problem

(8) Comments | Posted January 9, 2014 | 5:08 PM

Sixty years ago this week, scientists at Georgetown and IBM lauded their machine translation "brain," known as the 701 computer. The "brain" had successfully translated multiple sentences from Russian into English, leading the researchers to confidently claim that translation would be fully handled by machines in "the next...

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Ten Common Myths About Translation Quality

(21) Comments | Posted July 18, 2013 | 5:30 PM

The world of translation can be a confusing place, especially if you're the one doing the buying on behalf of your company. Many purchasers of translation services feel like you might when you take your car to the mechanic. How do you really know what's going on underneath the hood?...

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Mobile Advertising Nearly Doubles Worldwide, Reaching $8.9 Billion

(0) Comments | Posted July 17, 2013 | 12:50 PM

A new study from IAB reveals that worldwide mobile ad revenue rose by a massive 82.8% last year to $8.9 billion from $5.3 billion in 2011. That's right -- while many traditional advertising channels are slumping, mobile ad spend nearly doubled from one year to the next.


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Cultural Beliefs and Global Marketing by the Numbers

(1) Comments | Posted July 10, 2013 | 5:05 PM

Companies that sell their products and services internationally often underestimate the importance of being familiar with the target culture. More often than not, what you don't know about a local market can hurt your brand. A lack of cultural awareness frequently becomes evident through mistranslations. Many companies innocently...

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7 Trends in Global Internet Growth You Can't Afford to Ignore

(1) Comments | Posted June 6, 2013 | 11:08 AM

Mary Meeker's annual report on Internet trends is a must-read for everyone who has a stake in what happens online. And isn't that most of us anymore? Meeker, a partner at the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, was nicknamed the "Queen of the...

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Why Translators Are the New Blacksmiths

(10) Comments | Posted April 25, 2013 | 11:30 AM

A few months ago, during a talk at Google, I shared the idea that translators are the new blacksmiths. Here are six reasons why:

The translation profession is shifting from craft to science. It took three thousand years for humans to learn the science of converting metals...

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Profiles in Translation: Speaking the Language of Love

(1) Comments | Posted February 13, 2013 | 3:23 PM

As America gets ready to celebrate Valentine's Day, here's a bit of trivia from elsewhere in the world. In many parts of Latin America, Valentine's Day is not just for people who are in love. It's known as the "Día del Amor y la Amistad" -- the Day of Love...

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Could the Birth of a Word Prevent the Death of a Language?

(2) Comments | Posted February 9, 2013 | 12:00 PM

Click here to read an original op-ed from the TED speaker who inspired this post and watch the TEDTalk below.

When I first saw Deb Roy's TEDTalk, "The Birth of a Word," I was struck by the power of data-rich research to reveal important...

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Why Immigration Reform Is Good for Translation, Just Not for the Reasons You Think

(13) Comments | Posted January 30, 2013 | 4:07 PM

The United States will soon face immigration reform, as President Obama highlighted in his inaugural address this week. Which parts of the language industry stand to benefit from comprehensive reform, and who will have an advantage?

Common Sense Advisory conducted a large-scale study of federal government spending on...

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Seven Surprising Ways Immigration Helps Build a Stronger America

(29) Comments | Posted January 23, 2013 | 3:35 PM

President Obama has pledged to make immigration reform one of his top legislative priorities in 2013. He highlighted this commitment again in his inaugural address on Monday. Republicans are also reevaluating their stance on immigration. Here are seven frequently overlooked ways that immigration contributes to life in the...

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Profiles in Translation: Inside the World of a Professional Baseball Interpreter

(1) Comments | Posted January 23, 2013 | 11:02 AM

Baseball interpreters have been in the news a lot recently, due to the decision to allow interpreters to approach the pitching mound during games. I recently caught up with Kenji Nimura, an experienced professional interpreter for Japanese, Spanish, and English for players in the Major League. Nimura was...

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Six Things I Learned About Publishing a Book That Very Few Books Will Tell You

(74) Comments | Posted January 5, 2013 | 3:51 PM

Landing a book contract with a major publisher, Penguin, was a dream come true, and I thought I knew what awaited me. Prior to that wonderful day, I spent many years acquiring knowledge about the publishing process, mostly by reading books, articles, and blogs. Even so, there were quite a...

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Google, Kurzweil, and the Information Transformation Age

(1) Comments | Posted December 20, 2012 | 10:44 AM

Last week, Google announced the hiring of Ray Kurzweil, who will work to solve complex language processing problems, among other things. In an interview last year, Kurzweil pointed out that language processing issues are among the most difficult problems to solve. Kurzweil will join the same...

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Kiss, Bow, Shake Hands, or Cold Call?

(0) Comments | Posted November 12, 2012 | 1:56 PM

I can't even count the number of times I have walked into the office of an international marketing department or a translation company to find a copy of Terri Morrison's book, Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands sitting on an executive's bookshelf. It's a classic guide for global business...

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Keeping Voters' Tongues in Check

(0) Comments | Posted November 1, 2012 | 10:14 PM

As the presidential elections draw near, Obama and Romney are paying closer attention than ever to the language they use to make their cases. Every word they state can have an impact on potential voters. Unfortunately, both candidates are likely to miss out on countless votes precisely because of a...

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McDonald's' Local Strategy, from El McPollo to Le McWrap Chèvre

(0) Comments | Posted October 10, 2012 | 1:00 PM

A cup of rice with chicken, ginger, onion, shallots, and chili peppers. A fried patty made of potatoes, peas, and spices, topped with tomatoes and vegetarian mayonnaise. Grilled chicken in pita bread with lettuce, tomato, onion, and tahini sauce. English muffins topped with refried beans, white cheese, and salsa. Breaded...

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Ten Concepts That Are Surprisingly Difficult to Translate

(105) Comments | Posted October 8, 2012 | 8:17 PM

To most people, the process of translation sounds easy. Just take a phrase and one language and convert it into another, just like online translation tools do, right?

If only it were so simple! The reality is that even the translation of a single word can be a minefield,...

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10 Ways Translation Shapes Your Life

(24) Comments | Posted September 28, 2012 | 12:28 PM

Each year on Sept. 30, a holiday is observed by people all around the world that has been celebrated since 1953. It's a feast day that was originally designated for a patron saint (Saint Jerome), but it has grown to transcend all barriers of religion or geography. This year, I...

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