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About Translation



Information, news and opinions about professional translation: the Aliquantum blog



Updated: 2017-12-17T04:59:13.566-07:00

 



Bad programming decisions in CAT tools

2017-10-23T10:34:44.899-06:00

Everyone knows what software bugs are: flaws in a program that make the software fail or behave in unwanted and unexpected ways. Bugs are unavoidable in something as complex as software. The most we can reasonably ask of programmers is that they try to lessen the frequency and severity of bugs by using sound programming practices, and that they correct bugs quickly, once found.Bugs are unintentional, whereas virus, Trojans and other malware are created with malicious purpose.But, between unintentional bugs and willful malware, there is an entire class of problems caused by intentional programming decisions: when software features work as designed, but the design itself is ill-thought-out.I'll give two examples from SDL Trados Studio and memoQ.In Studio, an example of flawed design is the deliberate disabling of "smart quotes" when change tracking is active. According to SDL, "This currently is by design so that no uncontrolled/automatic changes should happen when typing in review mode." However, they didn't think through the real-world consequences of their decision: now, a translator may use smart quotes during translation, but since they are disabled during review, any apostrophe or quote entered during review will be straight. After review, the text of the translation will contain a mess of straight and curly quotes and apostrophes.SDL Studio: The translator used smart quotes, but the apostrophe used during review is a straight single quote.Furthermore, apostrophes and quotes are tiny characters: it is entirely possible no one will notice the problem for a while. The first person to notice might very well be the customer... perhaps when he receives the final printed copy, after it is too late to correct the error.Disabling smart quotes when change tracking is active is harmful, and the problem is made worse because it is not well documented.For me, I have a good workaround: a short program I wrote in AutoHotkey that allows me to use two different types of smart quotes (and also straight quotes) with no tweaking of Studio's settings, no matter whether change tracking is active.Maybe, under certain circumstances, it would be better to disable smart quotes during review, but this is a decision that should be left to the translator, not imposed by SDL. Let's now pass to Studio's main competitor, memoQ.Here, the flawed feature is a change introduced with version 8 of memoQ: a new behavior, touted as an ergonomic improvement, of the Shift+F3 "change case" function.Before version 8, Shift+F3 behaved in memoQ much the same as in Word, Studio, or many other programs--it toggled through the various permutations of change case: all lowercase, ALL UPPERCASE, and Mixed Case. Now Shift+F3 opens a drop-down menu, where the user can select the case.memoQ: An unecessary drop.down menu for a simple function.The result is the same, but the new "feature" hinders smooth typing by shoehorning in the workflow a change no user had sought. The new behavior slows a translator used to hit Shift+F3 a couple of times, until the desired case is achieved, then press the right arrow and continue typing. Changing case now often requires at least an extra keystroke; worse, it introduces an unnecessary change in a behavior that most users had imprinted in their muscle memory. And since Shft+F3 continues working as before in other programs, the irritation caused by the change will not fade away as you form new habits. Unlike with the Studio example, there is no workaround: the only thing you can do is return to memoQ 2015, abandoning any useful feature added in version 8.I imagine that if Kilgray introduced this new feature, someone must have either asked for it or thought it was a brillant idea. Instead, just like SDL's disabling smart quotes in change tracking mode, it is a bad programming decision.Special free software offerAs I mentioned before I use a short AutoHotkey program to enter smart quotes and apostrophes in Studio. The program lets me enter "smart" single and double quotes, curly apostrophes, "French"double quotes, and also, when I need th[...]



New edition of Mats Linder's Trados Studio Manual now available

2017-10-06T12:52:03.444-06:00

Mats Linder has just released a second edition of his immensely useful Trados Studio Manual, now updated to cover Studio 2017 SP1.


Of particular interest are the extensive changes and additions to the Machine Translation section.

The new edition of the manual is free for those who purchased the first edition of the Studio 2017 manual, and available at a 50% discount for those who purchased earlier editions of the manual (those for Studio 2015, 2014, etc.)

You can get the manual from the Trados Studio Manual webpage.(image)



Belt and Suspenders

2017-10-05T15:51:42.616-06:00

Some of us may have a tendency to panic, when faced with some unexpected computer error (and such incidents generally occur when little help is available, or very close to deadlines, or both), but there are steps we can take to defend ourselves from the worst effects of such mishaps.On Sunday, my partner's computer froze: suddenly neither keyboard nor mouse responded. We tried disconnecting and reconnecting keyboard and mouse, but without result. The last thing left to try was a hard reboot. We did that, and, after restarting in safe mode and then again in normal mode, the computer seemed to be working right: all programs responded as expected.Until, that is, my partner tried to launch Studio 2017 to continue a project she was working on. At that point the Studio splash screen briefly appeared, only to be followed by an ominous error message: "Not found".We clicked on the Knowledge Base Community link, but to little avail: no useful help there for this particular error message, so we opened a ticket with SDL's support. Of course, since it was Sunday, the earliest we could expect to hear from support was the following day... and my partner's deadline was rapidly approaching, so we needed to find another way to continue work on her project.We had two options: either copy the project's files and memories to her backup computer (a laptop), where we still had a copy of an earlier version of Studio, or work on the project with a different translation tool.We chose the latter option. Getting the sdxliff file to continue work was a simple question of copying it from the SDL 2017 "Projects" folder to a different working folder, but since we couldn't launch Studio, we had to use a different tool to export the most up to date copy of the translation memory: we used Xbench to load the TM and then export it in TMX format. It was then a simple matter of creating a new project in memoQ, add to it the partially translated sdxliff file, create a new memory, and import into it the TMX file we had created in Xbench.My partner was then able to continue her translation.The next day, Monday, we received instructions from SDL support. We were told first to try re-installing the program; when that didn't solve the problem, we tried renaming the "projects" XML file, and then various other SDL files and folders. Nothing seemed to work, and the SDL support technician was stumped. She said she'd need to escalate the issue to a more experienced engineer, but since the second-level engineers work out of the UK office, that would have to wait until the following day.On Tuesday, we were again on a support call, this time with the second-level engineers. They suggested various other remedies, finally succeeding in restoring Studio 2017 to life -- the culprit turned out to be an obscure Windows file (BTW: kudos to SDL's tech support -- it's well worth the money we pay for it, and they are generally patient, thorough, and professional).In the meantime, my partner had been able to complete the translation of the project in memoQ, and she then proceeded to finalize it in the newly-repaired Studio. So, a happy ending to our short tale of technical issues.But it got me thinking that such happy endings don't just happen: they require preparation and planning:If we had relied on a single computer, and a single CAT tool, my partner would have been unable to continue working until SDL support had solved the problem;If we had not installed Xbench, we would have been unable to export the data from Studio's memory;If we had not paid for SDL support, our only recourse would probably have been to take the computer to a repair shop, or perhaps ask for advice in the various online forums available, and hope for the best;In this case, there was no damage to the files or to the computer's hard drive, but if such damage had occurred, we would have been prepared also: we regularly back up our files both to external hard drives linked to our home network, and to online storage.Technical problems happen, but if you plan f[...]



The Microsoft Language Portal has a new look

2017-09-14T13:22:48.020-06:00

The Microsoft Language Portal, an indispensable resource for all translators who work with Windows software localization, has just received a new look, which brings it better in line with recent changes to other Microsoft programs, from Office to Edge and Windows itself.The new look of the Microsoft Language PortalPersonally, I find the new look, more modern--and perhaps more attractive--but a bit less legible.Compare the old look below:Th old look of the Microsoft Language PortalThe addition of more color to the interface helped separate the search form from the results area. The old look also displayed more terms per page:The old version of the Microsoft Language Portal displayed more terms per pageI haven't worked long enough with the new interface to see if there are other changes other than the obvious cosmetic ones. [...]



GT4T - A tool for translators, instead of a tool to replace translators

2017-09-11T18:31:25.769-06:00

Guest post by Dallas Cao, developer of GT4TMany translators believe that machine translation (MT) is a horror story, and that using machine translation (MT) in our work only results in bad quality. Indeed, after I started advertising GT4T (Google Translate for Translators) on Facebook, the reactions I got from many translators were negative.They are right to think that the overall quality of machine translation is bad, and that any translator who mindlessly uses machine translation puts his or her career at risk; but the quality of machine translation is improving: Google’s neural translation engine, for example, has surprised many, to the point that some agencies have started using it to replace human translators, relying afterwards on translators as post-editors--a situation that creates even greater hostility against MT among translators, who are rightfully afraid that post-editing means for them toiling at mind-numbing grunt work.Most of us use on-line reference tools in our work; when an online reference tool gets better, it helps us more. In my opinion, MT is the most advanced technology in translation, and, therefore, it should benefit professional translators first. If we consider MT as a reference tool rather than a threat, shouldn’t we be glad when our tool gets better?I never liked the idea of letting MT translate and translators confined to an unrewarding task of post-editing; however, we can use MT to “translate” a word, a term, a phrase, or a part of a sentence that we judge it will translate well. Sometimes MT returns nonsense, true, but most of time, when used carefully it provides a surprisingly useful translation.I developed GT4T because I wanted a tool that could help translators (and not translation companies) make the most of Google Translate, without becoming ourselves post-editors. Copying and pasting between Google Translate and your work is not a good solution, as it takes too much time. Some TM tools already include MT, but they all submit the whole sentence to MT: you cannot choose to have MT translate only part of a sentence.GT4T is a tool that lets you submit any portion of a sentence of your choice to MT with ease. It’s very simple: you select some text anywhere (including from inside a CAT tool), press a keyboard shortcut, and the selection is replaced by translation from MT. Simple as it is, I believe it is the correct way of using MT. As we use keyboards most of time, GT4T painlessly incorporates MT into our workflow.A usual problem with MT is inconsistency--the MT engine translates the same term differently in different sentences. GT4T has a simple glossary feature to solve this issue. You press a keyboard shortcut to add a term to GT4T’s glossary, and that term will be pre-translated before submission to MT; thus the results suggested by MT will be consistent.GT4T - Glossary SetupGT4T also offers the option to use both Google Translate and Microsoft Translator at the same time. The results from both engines appear in a popup, and you can then press 1 or 2 to paste the corresponding translation.GT4T - Alternative TranslationsI expect there are still many years ahead before MT can effectively replace us. Before that happens, MT can be a great aid--a tool that can increase both the speed and the quality of our translations, if used properly. A tool for translators, instead of a tool to replace translators.---You can find GT4T at: https://gt4t.net/en/ [...]



Beware: "Phras.in" is now a zombie site

2017-07-30T12:09:51.407-06:00

Several years ago there was a site that was very useful for translators: Phras.in. It allowed you to enter two different search strings, and see how many hits each returned, and what context they had. After a while, the site disappeared. It has recently resurfaced, apparently with the same graphics and interface, but it is not its former self: it is some Chinese zombie site. If you attempt to use it, it does not return any hits, and only display random text. I hope it did not infect my computer with some malware. I would advise against trying to visit it again.(image)



Deceptive advertising from Fluency?

2017-07-18T10:41:59.794-06:00

I've just received an e-mail advertising the Fluency CAT tool.

I tried out Fluency (and paid for a couple of licenses) a few years ago and was underwhelmed, to say the least. At that point, the program was simple and easy to use, but very buggy--all the (few) projects for which I used it run into problems. All issues were quickly solved by Fluency's support, true, but there were enough problems at that time to make me decide that Fluency was not helping me, and that the program was, in fact, slowing me down.

The tool might, in the meantime, have improved greatly, but, just like many other CAT tool vendors, I see that Fluency engages in deceptive advertising: prominently displayed in their ad is a testimonial in which a satisfied translator claims that "Fluency has enabled me to double my translation speed".

I have no reason to doubt that the statement is accurate, but, the same time, I suspect it most probably is misleading: when I hear from CAT tool vendors that their particular tool doubles translation speed, they are very careful not to say what this improved productivity is measured against. A CAT tool doubling a translator's speed if that translator didn't use CAT tools before? Yes, probably, even likely. But if that doubling of speed had been achieved when compared to the use of another CAT tool Fluency would be quick to say so. Since they don't, it's fair to assume that they are comparing apples to oranges, and that the claimed speed increase would in fact be achieved by using any other decent CAT tool.

To be clear--most professional translators by now use CAT tools, hence, any productivity increased claimed by CAT tool venderos should be measured against other CAT tools, not against not using CAT tools at all.

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Something from the past

2017-03-06T23:36:47.297-07:00

From the Atril time line:
1993 – Atril develops Déjà Vu software, the first Windows-based Computer-Aided Translation Tool (CAT tool) on the market.

Yesterday I was clearing a closet where I kept some old stuff, and I found these:

A couple of original Déja Vu diskettes. They might even  still be in good working order (that is if one had a computer with Windows 3.1 on it).

There is a date written in pen on them, from '95, when I must have checked those disks for integrity. But I know I had bought DV before moving to the States… must have been back in 1993, when I was working at Logos, in Italy, and that fits right at the beginning of Atril’s time line.

So, judging from the serial number (27) still clearly visible on them, I must have been one of the very first users of CAT tools for Windows. I didn't use Déja Vu for long: in 1994 I moved to the States to work in the translation department of J.D. Edwards, a software company. Shortly after I arrived the company adopted a translation memory program, but that was IBM's TM2 (later still, J.D. Edwards changed to Trados).

But I still remember the excellent technical support we received from Emilio Benito, the late founder of Atril.(image)



Sometimes, the best way to mislead is to tell the truth: the case of the nonexistent 36% productivity gain

2017-03-04T23:53:43.474-07:00

Sometimes, the best way to mislead is to tell (part of) the truth. Case in point: to much fanfare, Memsource's blog announced some time ago that translation clients can increase their productivity by 36% by using translation memory:
[...] The table above applies a predefined net rate scheme to a sample of 500+ million words. It clearly shows that Memsource’s most active users increase their productivity by an average of 36% by using translation memory. This means that if you had an average cost of 10 euro cents per word, for this volume you could save €18.6 million. Not bad!
What they imply (but cleverly don't state) is that it's only by using Memsource that you can achieve such impressive productivity gains. They are careful not to say against what they measured. My guess is that this 36% productivity gain was measured against similar translations done without the use of any CAT tool at all: If they had achieved a 36% productivity gain over what other CAT tools can do, Memsource would proudly boast of it.

However, since most professional translators already use one or more CAT tools, the productivity gains that Memsource peddles to their prospect are really not there... in fact, some professional translators complain that Memsource actually slows them down... and I can confirm that from my own experience with the tool.

I understand why the program is attractive for translation companies. I can even understand why people who translate only occasionally may find a free tool useful. For full-time professional translators, however, the slow creep of Memsource and similar online straitjackets is a big step backward.(image)



memoQ fuzzy match blues

2016-09-27T18:21:45.451-06:00

In the past, I've criticized SDL and its programs for offering as "fuzzy matches" sentences that were far from helpful.

But the worst I've seen from SDL doesn't even compare with some absurd fuzzy matches that memoQ is suggesting. See for example:


I cannot understand how the matching engine in memoQ is suggesting as a 98% match for "Legal Entity" the translation for "CALL 1-800-555-5555".(image)



Studio QA: actual vs. irrelevant differences

2016-07-08T18:21:23.067-06:00

SDL Trados Studio seems to be unable to distinguish, in its QA function, between actual markup differnces (e.g., between italics and bold), and trivial differences in the way the markup is written, and that don't affect correctness of a translation.

See, for example, how Studio is flagging as an error the difference between  and , where the only difference is the capitalization within the markup:

Both tags are equally valid, and produce the same effects, so flagging a difference like this as an error is only a waste of time. By the way: I tried running QA on the same text in Xbench, and Xbench correctly refrains from flagging this as an error.(image)



Quick Tip: How to put the search boxes side by side in Xbench

2017-10-05T15:52:14.742-06:00

Recently I had to explain to a colleague how to move the search boxes in Xbench so that they appear side by side instead of one over the other, as they do by default.

I had arranged mine side by side quite some time ago, but couldn't remember how it is done, nor could I find it easily in Xbench documentation. Finally, I had to ask ApSIC for help.

How to do it, is very simple: just grab the division between the options pane and the Search pane, and move it upward.


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The trouble with Memsource

2016-06-20T11:31:05.631-06:00

A major customer of ours recently switched from SDL Trados Studio to Memsource.I don't know why our customer (a translation agency) chose Memsource. Probably a mix of several reasons, including that no software needs to be installed, since Memsource works in the cloud. Also, they can peddle it to translators as a "free" tool.Memsource may be suitable for simple projects, but for more complicated ones and for advanced users it suffers from several serious drawbacks.The most serious is that in the free version of Memsource you can't use your own memories and termbases—the program lets you work only on projects prepared by translation agencies, and only using the resources selected by them. Possible solutions to this are:Upgrade to a paid version of Memsource, in which case you can add your own memories and termbases to a project. Load your translation memories and termbases in Xbench (or a similar tool), and use Xbench to search them. If you do this, however, you can use your resources only for reference—Xbench doesn't offer any automatic way to add new segments to a memory. Also, this workaround needs extra steps, so it slows you down.Use a different program (such as memoQ) to translate your Memsource projects. Yet, if you do so, while you can use your own memories, you lose access to Memsource's ones. Another problem is that sometimes Memsource is painfully slow, even on a fast Internet connection. In certain segments of a recent project, 9-10 seconds passed between the moment I hit a key and the time the corresponding character appeared—this meant typing blind. When I complained about this to Memsource support, they told me the segments in question contained joins, tags, and were long, and this slowed online processing. I believe this speaks volumes about the limitations of the tool, although, to be fair, a Memsource representative told me they know of this bug and are working to correct it.Memsource looks and acts like a stripped-down version of more powerful tools. This might be good for those who feel overwhelmed by too many choices, but experienced translators miss the advanced features they expect from professional translation tools. The first flaws that come to mind are:Far fewer find and replace options than memoQ or Studio; Find and replace in memoQ, Studio and MemsourceNo such thing as memoQ's LiveDocs and Muses, or the wealth of added features SDL offers through the Open Exchange;Limited segment filtering when compared with memoQ or Studio—for example, no regular expressions in the filters;No auto-complete in the desktop editor;Fixed screen layout. You cannot increase the size of the lower panes (CAT, Search, Changes). The little you can change, such as moving the panes from the right of the screen to the left, you can't save: next time you reopen the program, the panes are back where they started.No way to show tracked changes inline in the Memsource editor—you can only see the differences in the Change pane, and that is not enough.The lack of advanced features, the occasional slowness, and the fact you either cannot use your own memories and termbases or have to rely an external tool to search them, means that Memsource makes you less productive. According to our estimate, confirmed by what other colleagues say, we suffer a 30% drop in productivity when we work in Memsource instead of memoQ or Studio.The supposed advantages of using MemsourceIf Memsource was all bad, nobody would use it. So, what advantages does Memsource offer?According to a Memsource representative, the main advantages are that it's cloud based, that it allows simultaneous access by several people to the same translation memory, and that for translators it's free.Let's look more clos[...]



How to increase your chances when contacting prospects: don't boast of obsolete software

2016-08-29T16:54:32.338-06:00

A couple of years ago I wrote 15 tips on how to increase your chances when contacting translation companies (an article that was later followed by a response from a translation company: How to increase your chances when contacting translation companies - from a translation agency’s point of view)

Another suggestion I think some translators might find useful:

16. If you use obsolete software, don't advertise that.

I've just received a message that, among other things, proudly announced that this translator uses as software tools Microsoft Office 2007 suite, Adobe Acrobat 9 Standard, and Trados Studio 2011.
  • Office 2007 is nine years old, and Microsoft has since released three new version: 2010, 2013, and 2016 (and also Office 365). 
  • Acrobat 9 is eight years old, and also has been superseded by three new versions: 10, 11 e DC (in 2010, 2012, and 2015), 
  • Studio 2011 is five years old, and has been superseded by two new versions: 2014 e 2015.

If old programs still work for you, fine, but don't highlight the fact that you are not updating your software: to a potential customer this suggests that you might not be able to handle newer file formats, and also that your system might not be fully protected against malware (if you are still using software that old, it might be reasonable to assume that your antivirus or firewall also is not up to date).

Maybe you religiously update all your antimalware, and keep using old programs because they just work. If that is so, and still want to say that you use certain programs, don't mention the actual version number, and just say you use Office, Acrobat and Studio. You won't be actually telling a lie, and your prospects might assume that you are using the very latest versions of each program. 

A better option, of course, would be to keep your software up to date.
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Quick Tips: How to translate a MemSource project using memoQ

2016-06-08T11:18:59.562-06:00

Recently a major customer of ours changed from using SDL Trados Studio to using MemSource, an online CAT tool. Our customer probably has good reasons for switching to the new tool, but for a translator accustomed to more powerful CAT tools, using MemSource has a downside: many of the functions we have come to rely on are missing.I will probably write more about MemSource in the future. For now a quick workaround if you find yourself having to translate a project in MemSource but would much rather use memoQ instead - for instance, because you find that MemSource lacks some feature you love in memoQ, or more simply because you find that MemSource is slowing you down.Log in to the MemSource cloud, accept your project, pretranslate it, and download it as a bilingual .mxliff file (just as you would if you wanted to translate using the MemSource desktop editor).Open your .mxliff file in the MemSource desktop editor. Join or split all segments that need to be joined or split (Important: do this in the MemSource editor - don't wait to do this operation in memoQ: you might end up with a translated file that doesn't load cleanly in MemSource). Save your file.Open memoQ. Create a new project, and add to it your .mxliff file. When adding your document select "All files" (don't select "All supported files" or "XLIFF files": memoQ doesn't yet recognize the .mxliff extension, but correctly handles .mxliff files once loaded).Select "All files" to import the .mxliff fileIn Document Import Options, change the filter from "Unknown" to "Xliff".Select "XLIFF filter"At this point you'll have successfully imported your file in memoQ, but you'll see that all the MemSource tags are unprotected. You need to use memoQ's Regex Tagger to protect them.First, identify all types of MemSource tags in your document. You can do that by simply filtering your source text searching for the character "{". Once you have identified your tags, clear your filter (otherwise the Regex tagger won't work).Go to the Preparation ribbon. Select Regex Tagger. In Tag current document you'll have to add the rules to correctly protect the MemSource tags. The rule for protecting the {b> (begin of bold text) tag, for example, will be \{b>. A more efficient rule that works for {b>, {bu>, {i> and {u> would be \{[a-z]{1,2}>. Repeat, adding all the different types of tags you have in your document. Use Regex Tagger to protect the MemSource tagsSave your configuration (to tag future projects). You are done. You can now translate your MemSource project in memoQ. At the end export your translation, test it by loading it in the MemSource Desktop editor, and from it upload it to the MemSource cloud server.Bear in mind that if you choose to translate your MemSource projects this way, you won't have access in memoQ to the translation memories and termbases added to the project by your project manager: you'll be working exclusively with the local memories and termbases you have added yourself in memoQ.Weather that is an acceptable solution for you (and for your client) is up to you. [...]



A step back to the past: translating without a CAT

2016-06-02T12:00:39.358-06:00

I'm working on a large translation project. Legal documents, scanned pdf files, not really suitable for OCR (too many stamps, signatures and handwritten text). The documents are repetitive, but without major blocks of identical text, although a few occasional sentences appear almost unchanged on different parts of different files. This is exactly the kind of project (minus the "scanned pdf, not really suitable for OCR" part) that CAT tools were invented for. I'm translating these documents with the pdf open on the left of the screen, and MS Word on the right. My fingers itch for the concordance and filter shortcuts, but that is not possible here: I cannot really search the source (although there is a way to do it... more about that later), and while I can search the files I have already translated, I cannot perform a real concordance search. This is the way we all translated up to a little over twenty years ago, when CAT tools were first introduced. Even without CAT tools, though, I enjoy a much larger and clear screen, a more modern word processor, and a fast Internet connection for looking up references. Still, it feels like going back almost to the days of pen and paper. I know that there are translators who still work this way, who refuse to use CAT tools, and who maintain that the only translation memory they need is the one they have between their ears. The only thing I can say is that everyone is entitled to their opinion, but that they should give CAT tools a try. If you are accustomed, like me, to work on most projects using CAT tools, there are still a few things you can do if you find yourself faced with a large project to be completed using just a word processor. If you know there are words, phrases and sentences that repeat themselves throughout the project, you can speed up things using a text expander program. MS Word includes similar functionality, but I prefer to use an external tool to have more control on what I do. In my case I use AutoHotkey. This scripting program allows me to create pairs of triggers and sentences. For example I can add to my triggers "



Top 100 Language Lovers 2016: voting phase has started

2016-05-20T09:55:00.393-06:00

The Top 100 Language Lovers 2016 voting phase has started, and both this blog and my Twitter account are among the candidates.

This is the ninth year that the competition has been organized. About Translation has been voted among the top 100 a couple of times in the past, but this is the first time that my Twitter account has been selected for voting

The competition is looking for the best 100 Language Lovers in the following five categories: Language Learning Blogs, Language Professionals Blogs, Language Facebook Pages, Language Twitter Accounts and Language YouTube Channels.

The voting phase lasts from May 19th to June 6th. During this period, everyone can vote for their favorite Language Lovers in the five social media categories. The final results will be based on the internal ranking criteria of bab.la and Lexiophiles (50 %) and user votes (50 %). The winners will be announced on June 9th.

Click below to go to the voting page for the Language Professional blogs:
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Click below to go to the voting page for the Language Twitter accounts:
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(Once you are on the voting page, select your favorite and click on the Vote button)
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How to increase your chances when contacting translation companies - from a translation agency’s point of view

2016-05-19T17:49:34.784-06:00

This is a guest post by Aniello Attianese, in response to my post 15 tips on how to increase your chances when contacting translation companies. Aniello Attaniese is a Project Manager at Translation Services 24, a translation company in London specialized in legal and marketing translation services which works with a variety of clients, from UK SMEs to Large multinational organisations.Reading one of Riccardo’s articles published back in 2014 about "15 tips on how to increase your chances when contacting translation companies", I simply couldn’t help but agree that some of the points he had made sound awfully familiar and accurate. Working for a translation agency myself (Translation Services 24), every day I personally come across translators who wish to join our team, and so they approach our agency in a number of different ways. Certainly, our agency receives a number of well written and professional emails and those are the applications we pay close attention to. Nevertheless, we also receive applications which, simply put, do not meet our agency’s standards. Sadly, because the translator behind the email could be very talented and professional at what their actual job is, still, due to the number of applications we receive, it is simply impossible to contact each person and so naturally we need to eliminate some.Referring to Riccardo’s post again, I’d like to talk about some of the tips he has mentioned and look at them from our agency’s point of view.Running an in-depth research and finding out more about who you’re about to email is definitely an important point and perhaps something that can influence your success rate greatly. As an agency, we clearly state on our website that the preferred way to contact us regarding any job opportunities is by filling out our online application form or emailing our HR department directly. Instead, we receive countless generic emails to our accounts’ email address. Although we sometimes review these applications anyway, they might not be prioritised over someone who actually took their time to find out more about our company and followed our guidelines. Therefore, it’s always important to, for example, visit agency’s website or social media profiles to gather more information prior to initial contact. When receiving applications from translators, it is always extremely helpful to us, as a translation agency, when any specific sector and relevant information beyond languages covered are mentioned in the application. Due to the number of applications we receive, we simply cannot contact each and every person who gets in touch with us. Including such information not only allows our project managers to update their databases regularly, but also increases translator’s chances of being contacted by us if a project within their niche of expertise arises. Creating straightforward and self-explanatory subjects for emails is really important. This can be especially true when emailing agency’s generic email address so that it is not treated it as spam. Nevertheless, our HR department opens every application email regardless. Perhaps similarly to any translation agency, we prefer to work with native speakers of the target language. We do however work with possibly 10-15 translators who translate not only into their mother tongue but also cover other languages pairs. This, nevertheless, is very rare and each of these translators has been working with us for at least 5 years, proving their accuracy time after time and started working with us as native language only translators too. [...]



WordWeb Pro: dictionary and multi-search application

2016-05-09T11:00:13.733-06:00

A few posts ago, in my article on Reverso Context, I mentioned several multi-search applications from which Reverso could be called. One of these, the one I use the most, is WordWeb Pro.WordWeb Pro is chiefly a dictionary: in its free version (more about that, and its unusual licensing terms, later) it comes with a large English language dictionary that offers synonyms, antonyms, other useful features such as subordinate and superordinate categories, the ability to restrict searches to a specific grammatical category and to search, from within the program, also Wikipedia and Wiktionary.WordWeb ProThe Pro version adds optional dictionaries, for example the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, Chambers Thesaurus, the New Oxford American Dictionary and several others (but you have to buy them separately). It also allows adding your own glossaries, adding terms and definitions to the main dictionary, and adding searches from many online dictionary and search engines. I've added, for example, the Microsoft Language Portal, Google Advance Search, Linguee, Reverso Context, the WordReference EN-IT and several other specialized monolingual and bilingual dictionaries.WordWeb Pro's tabs—with the dictionaries and searches I useThe full list of features is too long for a short article, but they include:Thesaurus and dictionary for Windows Customizable hotkey, which allows instant look up from almost any program Restricting the search for synonyms and antonyms by part of speechFull text search (so you can search within the definitions)Adding your own glossaries Using various patterns and wildcards in searches (useful when you are looking for a word but you aren’t sure how to spell it) X-Ref button to extend the search to other dictionaries installed on the computer Adding new words or sets of words with their definitions and usage examples to the dictionary Importing and exporting the added terms to common spreadsheet-format files Bookmarks (for example, to remember past searches: useful to keep track of which words and terms most often give you problems) Replace button to substitute a synonym in a document you are editing Possibility of using the tool without the need to be online (for the installed dictionaries only: you need to be online to use the web search).I use WordWeb in two different ways: to quickly search its main dictionary and thesaurus, and as a multi-search tool that allows me searching several dictionaries and websites all at the same time.To add a new search site to WordWeb Pro, follow this procedure:Go to the Options menuSelect Dictionary tabs...The Dictionary tabs window opensIn the Dictionary tabs Window, click the “New” buttonThe Web reference window opensGive a name to the new web reference (the new search), and add its URL (web address), using “%s” as a placeholder for the search term.So, for example, to add Google, you put “Google” as the name of the search engine and “https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#safe=off&q=%s” as the search strings.How to add a new search engine in WordWeb ProThe best way to find where to put your placeholder in the URL is to perform a search and then examine the URL of the retrieved page to see where the search string goes. So, for example, to see which URL I needed to add, I searched for the word “test” in Google. Google converted that to the URL https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#safe=off&q=test and I then replaced “test” with the placeholder “%s” in[...]



An update to my Reverso Context review

2016-05-05T16:58:43.852-06:00

I've received a message from Théo Hoffenberg of Reverso, with some additional information about Reverso Context:Hello Riccardo,Thanks a lot for your review of Reverso Context. I would like to give you some additional comments or info, which you can use if you wish.It’s true that it’s similar in approach to Linguee, and by the way, we had this design and plan five years before Linguee, but we wanted to have enough corpora and computing power to launch it at the level we aimed at.It’s true also that Linguee has more languages and language combinations, but we’ll also expand and try focus on the main markets first, because we go much deeper for each language combination.What is unique about Reverso ContextMain translations on top are computed by our algorithms and shows you the alignment. This requires a lot of engineering, linguistic and computing time to make the alignment as good as possible;You can pronounce full examples, which is nice for learning;You can save examples in your phrasebook (online and on the app too, and soon synchronized);You have both spoken language (real-life) and official documents (more formal / technical) like EU, UN … and other tools have one or the other;There is intelligent conjugation and definitions dictionaries linked for several languages;It’s integrated in Reverso ecosystem with collaborative dictionary, full-text translation, conjugation, spelling, etc. Hope this info is useful to you. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you need more info / insight.BestThéo H.I included Théo's message also as an update at the bottom of my review of the tool (Reverso Context, an app for language learners that can also help translators). [...]



ChangeTracker website redesigned

2016-04-29T14:25:08.131-06:00

Technolex Translation Studio, a provider of language services, has redesigned the website for ChangeTracker, an application for tracking editorial corrections in translations.

I wrote about Change Tracker in a previous post (New utility to keep track of changes in bilingual files). I'm glad there there are signs of new development for this useful utility!



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6th Annual Conference of the Colorado Translators Association

2016-04-28T08:54:23.271-06:00

Last weekend we attended the 6th Annual Conference of the Colorado Translators Association. I enjoyed the conference: all the sessions I went to were interesting, useful, and well presented. I saw again friends and colleagues I’ve known for years, and met new people. Two of my current students were at the conference; I think they found it worthwhile. I also saw students from earlier courses, now well launched on their translation careers.Three interesting books were on sale at the conference: Eve Lindemuth Bodeux’s Maintaining Your Second Language (“practical and productive strategies for translators, teachers, interpreters and other language lovers”); Tess Whitty’s The Marketing Cookbook for Translators (“foolproof recipes for a thriving freelancer career”); and the 3rd edition of Corinne McKay’s How to Succeed as a Freelance Translator.Eve, Tess and Corinne with their booksThe first session we attended on Saturday was “Future-Proofing Your Translation Business”, the keynote on marketing given by Tess Whitty on strategies for a thriving career as a freelancer. Tess spoke of protecting and improving our business assets (especially our translation skills), investing in continuing education, time management, mind-sets to avoid (for example atelophobia, the fear of not being good enough), and goal settings: 95% of people don’t write down the goals they set for themselves. The remaining 5% are those who do reach their goals.The second session was “Inside the Mind of a Project Manager: Common Questions and Concerns”, a presentation on how to work better with beleaguered project managers, delivered with verve by Andie Ho. Andie spoke of the care and feed of PMs (i.e., how to keep them happy). She mentioned such common-sense things as making sure we keep communication channels open, being honest about our abilities, and not being afraid of asking intelligent questions. No platitudes such as “there is no such a thing as a dumb question” from Andie: her rule of thumb is that if you can find the answer within two minutes with a simple Google search, then, yes, the question was dumb and wasted the PM’s time. Final thoughts from Andie’s presentation: “PM are not out there to get you—are you out to get your PM?”The next presentation was “Creating a Compatible Customer Base within the Language Services Industry”, by Karen Tkaczyk, on how to get a better class of clients. The main takeaway for everyone here was that the “ideal customer” doesn’t exist, and that we should aim instead at assembling an ideal basket of good customers.“Automating Termbase Creation”, by Sameh Ragab (who came to Boulder all the way from Egypt just for the conference), was a must-go presentation for anyone interested in translation tools. Sameh answered the question “Why is terminology important?” by saying that good terminology helps make our translations more clear, consistent and easier to review, thus achieving faster turnaround. Good terminology increases brand value, both for clients and for us. I’m looking forward to reading Sameh’s presentation on the CTA’s website: he promised he would include references to all the enticing programs he described.Sameh Ragab, outgoing CTA President Thaïs Lips, myself and Andie HoOur last presentation on Saturday was “Vetting Clients—How to Use Payment Practices and Other Sources to Prevent Late or Non-Payment”, by Ted Wozniak: a good description of how to use Ted’s Payme[...]



Quick Tips: when Studio cannot create your target file

2016-04-25T12:04:30.919-06:00

You know that sinking feeling when you have completed a carefully crafted translation in Studio, spell-checked and self-edited it, then run it through QA (using Studio's internal QA function and/or Xbench) - only to discover that when you try to export your target translation, Studio refuses to create it, saying there is something wrong with your MS Word file?

It is only at that moment that you remember you should have round-tripped the source file first thing, before translating it, to see if it would convert back cleanly.

If this happens to you, don't panic: there is (usually) a quick solution.
  1. First, just to be sure, save everything: your translation with its memory.
  2. Then create a new project. Add to it a copy of the memory you used, and the original file (or files) you had to translate.
  3. The project should pretranslate your file for you. There may be a few segments left untranslated (if you split or joined them). Don't do anything to them yet.
  4. Try exporting the target file. If the program succeeds, go back to the (new) project, complete any missing segment (joining and/or splitting them as necessary), and export your target file. If the program manages to do that, you are done.
Most likely, however, #4 here above will fail with the same error message you got the first time round. At this point there are still things you can try:
  1. Open your source MS Word file, and save it in two different formats. If your source was a *doc file (MS Word 2003 or earlier format), save it as both an *.rtf file and as a *.docx (MS Word 2007 or later format). If it was a *.docx file, save it as both *.doc and *.rtf--and if it was an *.rtf file, save it as both *.doc and *.docx file.
  2. Add the two new versions of the file to your new project. Pre-translate them. Try to save them as target. Most likely one of the two versions will save cleanly as target. If it does, you are done--you have a clean target file, and, if you need, you can then save it in the format needed by your client. 
If none of the new files saves correctly as target, you are out of luck and of quick solutions. If you have a support agreement with SDL, now is the time to open a ticket. If you don't, start looking on the SDL knowledge base and elsewhere online for more specific solutions.

This quick trick may not work always, but it works often enough that it should be in your bag of SDL Trados Studio tricks.(image)



How localization engineers could help translators

2016-04-21T08:40:06.158-06:00

When you translate software strings from English into another language, you sometimes wish you had more information available.

Often localization engineers, the people who prepare strings for translation, work for a software company that then outsources the translation to an agency. The localization engineer in company A talks with a project manager in agency B, who, in turn, deals with various freelancers (or even single-language vendors). The chain of intermediaries can quickly get too long. Answers to questions sent up the chain take forever, and suggestions or remarks by translators are lost on their way to the client.

Localization engineers usually have great technical skills. However, since they don’t translate themselves, they sometimes don't know what would help translators and what would hinder them.

Localization engineers (and project managers) could help translators improve the quality of the localized software by a few simple actions:

  • Provide an easy way for translators to send their queries and remarks;
  • Provide explanations and definitions;
  • Indicate how much space is available for each translated string;
  • Provide a glossary of required and forbidden terminology;
  • Give translators the whole translation memory (not only an extract): a complete translation memory allows translators to perform context searches, and helps ensure translation is consistent;
  • Provide screenshots, or make resources available to see the strings in context;
  • Do not provide the strings in alphabetical order (as I often see): that may look more orderly, but also deprives translators of much needed context.

This is just a partial list: a few thoughts that came to mind while working on a badly organized project, a few weeks ago.
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What happens to your marketing efforts...

2016-04-20T11:18:06.928-06:00

...if you don't take the time to research your prospects.

As a translation company, we keep receiving large amounts of very generic e-mails from translators, all addressed to "Dear Sir or Madam" and variations on the same theme, including "Dear Ladies and Gentlemen", "Hello Dear" (?), "Good Day", "Hi there", "Hello", Hello Sir/Madam", and so on.

The following is just a part of today's crop:
A simple rule in Outlook ensure that all such message end up in the junk e-mail folder, thus negating these translators' marketing efforts.


If you are looking for new clients, take the time to research your prospects, and customize your marketing for each of your prospects. You'll have much greater success.

If, on the other hand, you insist in sending out generic e-mails in bulk, remember, there is a term for that: it's called "spam" and it is actually forbidden in many countries.(image)