Translation news / Proz.com
Friday 6 December 2013
Friday 6 December 2013
Friday 6 December 2013
Friday 6 December 2013
Thursday 5 December 2013
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Friday, 6 December 2013
This week a customer from an advertising agency I work for sent me a PDF file to translate containing a newspaper article she had scanned. What struck me right away was that the whole article was an image and that it was laid out in a number of columns with a headline and large picture at the top. It looked quite nice as pieces of journalism go, but how did she expect me to make a quotation and translate the text? To be honest, I don't think she realised what she was asking of me; these days it's so common for people in PR, sales and marketing to work with PDFs of glossy-looking articles that they don't realise how tricky they can be for translators to deal with.
One way of handling such image files is to load them into Adobe Acrobat®, a powerful but pricey application for creating and editing PDF documents. You import the file and then process it using the optical-character-recognition feature (OCR). This theoretically "captures" any text found in the image and makes it editable. After doing that and saving the results as a new PDF file, you can export it to an external word-processing application like Microsoft Word® and then check it to see if all the text has been captured and reproduced correctly. It's only once this last step has been taken that you can actually start translating.
If you do most of your translating in a CAT tool, then you may also want to go over the editable file again before doing that using a utility such as Dave Turner's CodeZapper as this can reduce the number of formatting "tags" or "codes" in it, which appear in the translation grid and stop you from translating segments quickly (as you have to insert them in your translation one by one).
Well, after creating an editable Word file from Adobe Acrobat XI and not being very impressed with the outcome, I remembered a blog post that Dominique Pivard wrote a while ago about handling scanned PDFs using a Web-based CAT tool called Wordfast Anywhere®. Dominique has made a large number of short but generally very instructive videos on CAT tools that you can watch on his blog or on YouTube for free, and this is one of them.
I watched the video twice (just to make sure I'd understood everything!), set up a free user account on the Wordfast Anywhere site and then uploaded the original scanned PDF file to it. You need to create a translation memory and set the source and target languages before it processes the PDF, but once you've done that, you're off! The Wordfast Anywhere server processed my PDF file using a powerful OCR algorithm and converted it into an editable file in just a few minutes. It lets you either translate the output in a Wordfast environment directly on the server or download the file and translate it by other means if you wish (e.g. in a desktop CAT tool).
The results of the conversion I got it to do were very good and the file didn't need much fine-tuning at all – it was better than Acrobat's output and didn't cost me a penny.
Many thanks to Dominique for making his video tutorial. If you'd like to watch it, then just click here. (The 4-minute video will start running as soon as the page has built up in your browser.)
image: Wordfast logo © Wordfast LLC
Related posts: Uses of Adobe Acrobat XI (part 1)
Saturday, 23 November 2013
Although "The Entrepreneurial Linguist" by linguists Judy and Dagmar Jenner first appeared on the book market in 2010, I have to admit it took me a while to get round to buying a copy and reading it myself. Fortunately, many of the subjects the book covers are still applicable to freelance translation work today – as the title implies, it's mostly about setting up and running a translation business long-term rather than using specific software tools to get your work done, although these are also discussed briefly.
The book is basically a practical "how to" guide and covers 11 subject areas over almost 200 pages. The choice of topics is a personal one reflecting the two authors' own interests and activities – as translators, bloggers, members of translators' associations and conference speakers. This and the fact that it focuses on ways of doing business soundly and successfully ("the business-school approach" in the title) make it stand out from other works of this kind, which try to be as general as possible. It's also not solely directed at translators in the US market – the two authors actually work in different countries, the United States and Austria. They are also sisters and spend time together in each other's country every year, which gives them a broader perspective on business than usual.
Consequently, the scope of this book is pretty wide. It sets the scene by addressing the way you should see yourself as a freelance translator, namely as an independent entrepreneur who wants to make a living from his or her skills:
This might seem obvious, but it's worth reminding ourselves what we are actually doing from time to time as it's easy to lose sight of sometimes. The Jenners also make a point of putting things into context: "In addition, one-person businesses account for a staggering 78% of all U.S. businesses" (according to figures from 2007; p. 20).
Having discussed the best mindset to adopt, the Jenners turn to organisation and accounting, a section which contains useful tips (including the very wise insight that it might be best to get a trained accountant to help you rather than attempting to tackle the financial side of your business all by yourself, which not everyone's cut out to do). The authors then go into some detail about social media, networking, blogging and marketing (the longest sections, in fact) and subsequently talk about strategies for developing your business (in a nutshell, "no pain, no gain" and "yes, you can"!).
This is followed by sections on pricing, negotiating, professional development, getting actively involved in an association and starting up a local chapter, and getting the right balance between your work and private life. A recap in the final chapter conveniently sums up the most important points made in the book.
As I've said, this is a personal selection of topics; the sections on blogging and "giving back" won't appeal to every reader as we are all under time constraints and things like blogging and playing an active role in a professional association are time-consuming and may involve travel as well as background research. But still, there's something of value for every translator in this book. In fact, much of what's said applies to anyone who wants to set up a business of their own. A worthwhile read.
image: © Judy and Dagmar Jenner, The Entrepreneurial Linguist
Thursday, 14 November 2013
As you may have gathered by now, I use a translation tool called memoQ to help me with most of my translation work. MemoQ comes with an interesting dictionary plug-in linking it to a huge external terminology database called the EuroTermBank, and if it is activated (which it is by default in version 6.0 and 6.2), then memoQ constantly looks up expressions that appear in my source texts in the database and "suggests" any English translations of them to me that it finds there.
The terms that are "recognised", i.e. correspond to the source words in appearance, are displayed in a window to the right of the translation area in memoQ so you can see them easily while you translate and decide whether or not to pick them (sometimes they match the context, sometimes they don't). You can insert them manually or by using a combination of keys on your keyboard. The ETB entries have a special symbol next to them in the results list, as you can see from this screen shot showing a German source text and matching term-base results (the empty space in the middle is for the translation that is about to be done):
Fig. 1: The translations found in the ETB term base are conveniently shown to the right of the translation grid. Those from my own term bases are directly above them.
Now, you won't find everything in the ETB term base, of course, but you will find a lot of material in a large number of European languages (currently 33, in fact), including those used in Eastern Europe and the Baltic States (Lithuania and Latvia, for example). That's because the ETB is actually a terminology project involving a large number of countries from the European Union.
The EuroTermBank was set up by a consortium of organisations specifically with Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland in mind, but other new EU member states and interested countries and organizations outside the EU are invited to get involved in the project as well. The idea, they say, is to "exchange terminology data with existing national and EU terminology databases by establishing cooperative relationships, aligning methodologies and standards, [and] designing and implementing data-exchange mechanisms and procedures".
According to the ETB website, www.eurotermbank.com, the project focuses on harmonisation and consolidation of terminology work in new EU member states, "transferring experience from other European Union terminology networks and accumulating competencies and efforts of the accessed countries". The aim of the project is to provide a source of "consistent, harmonised and easily accessible terminology" in the European Union, a "centralized online terminology bank for languages of new EU member countries interlinked to other terminology banks and resources".
The terminology the ETB draws upon is taken from public-sector terminology resources, so it's obviously of particular value if you translate texts concerned with any of these (widely varying) areas. Business, finance and institutions are covered, for example.
There's a quick summary of what the database covers on the left (as of 14 Nov. 2013). As you can see, the EuroTermBank is a big, ongoing multilingual project. What I find particularly useful about it is the fact that source terms are not just listed in the target language you pick, but some of them also come with a definition, giving you some background information that can come in handy as you translate.
To access the ETB, you don't have to have memoQ (even though Kilgray is its first technology partner); you can access it from your own web browser by calling up its URL, http://www.eurotermbank.com/, in which case you'll see something like this at the top of the page:
Fig. 2: The ETB on the internet (showing a window for an advanced search with several options, including definitions)
The subject areas that are covered are displayed in the "domain" field, which is shown on the left when you do an advanced search (click on "Show advanced options" next to the orange search button). If you click on the little arrow there, a drop-down list will appear. Here you can see that the ETB covers a wide range of areas: politics, international relations, European Community law, trade, social issues, education, employment, energy, transport and more... Amazing!
Incidentally, you can also download a special plug-in for Microsoft Word® that will help you with dictionary look-ups while you use that program. This enhancement can help you understand a text better, particularly one in a foreign language – mark a tricky word and then call up the ETB by right-clicking your mouse. Go to "Terminology..." and then a special pane will open listing possible equivalents in various languages.
If you fail to find any terms you look up, the portal enables you to build up a personalised list of such words (in "My ETB"), which you can share with other users from the ETB community if you'd like to.
This is a great resource for translators!
images: ETB website and my own screen shots from memoQ
Monday, 11 November 2013
As I mentioned at the end of last month, the Hungarian CAT-tool maker Kilgray recently released a new version of its main product for freelance translators, memoQ, called "memoQ 2013 R2" (the "R" stands for "release", apparently). I've been using this version of memoQ ever since then and have found it to be robust and very convenient thanks to various enhancements to existing features and several brand new features it comes with.
To find out more about this particular release, you can now sign up to attend a free, one-hour webinar by Kilgray on the tool's new features, which is going to be staged later this week: on 14 November at 4 p.m. GMT (= 5 p.m. CET). Click here to sign up.
In Kilgray's own words on the event, the features to be discussed include "monolingual review (to update your translation
The last point is a very modest description of some major achievements in memoQ: "Use Microsoft Word dictionaries for spell-checking; change
Reading about features is a good start, but watching a webinar will give you a lot of visual information as well as being more informative in general. You can also ask questions that may be answered straightaway, so it's a good way of finding out about key aspects of the program quickly. After which you should give it a spin yourself. Download a free user's guide from Kilgray's website and find out how the tool works – and most of all, how (like all CAT tools) it can help you improve your productivity and make sure you use the right terminology consistently as you translate. (More about the benefits of using translation software in a later post...)
See you at the webinar.
image: logo courtesy of Kilgray Translation Technologies and my own screen shot from Citrix webinar software
Closely related posts: Promising new features in memoQ 2013 R2
Friday, 25 October 2013
MemoQ (pronounced "memo kyu") is a CAT tool that has become very popular among translators, partly because it offers a lot of convenient features and is relatively easy to use; beginners can learn how to set up a project and translate and export texts with the tool in just 1-2 hours. Plus it can process a wide range of file formats smoothly, including Trados 2007's bilingual RTF and SDL Trados Studio 2009/2011 files in XLIFF format. Last but not least, I personally think it's good value for money, especially if you buy it as part of a promotion or group purchase!
A new version of memoQ called memoQ 2013 was released at the end of May and includes lots of enhancements and several new features, including an integrated online dictionary search facility that you can configure yourself using as many of your favourite Web resources as you like. (This is in addition to the Eurotermbank plug-in that memoQ comes with.)
Fig. 1: When you import the final version, memoQ opens an alignment window. The green lines mark the segments that have been changed.
Another enhancement is the ability to import term bases straight from SDL's terminology tool MultiTerm®. This is useful if a customer sends you a document to translate using specific terms they work with and have stored in that format. More specifically, memoQ 2013 now enables you to import MultiTerm XML or TBX files, extract the terms and include them in a term base of its own, which you select yourself. This gives you faster leverage of the customer's resources.
Fig. 2: To import a MultiTerm XML file (term base), click on "Import terminology" and then select the format.
There are a number of other improvements as well, some of which concern the DOCX filter for importing and exporting Word® documents. Exporting comments made in memoQ along with a translation has now been implemented. (This has been possible in other CAT tools such as Déjà Vu X and X2 for ages, but not in memoQ, and saves you a lot of time inserting comments into your translation manually after exporting it.)
But to find out more about it, why not attend Kilgray's introductory webinar on the new release? It's going to be held from 5-6 pm CET (4-5 pm GMT) on Monday 28 October. It's free – all you have to do is register in advance. Click here to go to the registration page.
Have fun trying out the program! (You'll be able to download it shortly and can try it out for free for 45 days.)
memoQ logo: courtesy of Kilgray Translation Technologies; screen shots: my own.
P.S. (written on 13 Nov. 2013) A free recording of the webinar is now available on the internet – click here to access it.
Friday, 11 October 2013
Well, the build-up to its appearance on the translation stage was big, as you might expect from SDL Trados! Have you heard the news yet? If you're also a translator and use translation software to help you with your daily work, then you may already be aware that the largest maker of computer-assisted translation (CAT) software tools recently launched the latest version of its key product (on 30 September).
It almost seems to have been a little early in arriving on the market, actually, as it's known as "Studio 2014" ... but then again, I expect they wanted to get a competitive edge over one of their main competitors, the Hungarian firm Kilgray (the makers of memoQ 2013 and other state-of-the-art tools for translators, translation agencies and terminologists).
The previous version of SDL Trados's tool, Studio 2011, has been around for a while and become widely used among freelance translators and agencies alike, partly because it supports bilingual file formats created by its much earlier predecessor, Trados 2007, which many agencies once invested in and weren't prepared to drop when Studio first came out.
Studio 2014 is based on the 2011 version, but the interface has been enhanced to make it easier to use. One of the main changes you'll notice is that a ribbon-based interface has now been adopted, organising related functions in tabs in a similar way to the programs that come with Microsoft Office 2007/2010. So if you're used to working with the latter, you ought to find it relatively easy to get to grips with Studio 2014. In addition to that, new areas have been added to the interface for training purposes – you can now access training videos directly from the program, for example – and you can access additional "apps" for Studio from here, too, by following an internal link to SDL's OpenExchange platform rather than having to call up the page separately in your web browser. So users can get information faster and more conveniently, which is great.
Apart from this, the sales people at SDL Trados have been listening to user feedback and passing it on to the developers, who have consequently come up with a number of "new" features such as AutoSave (to save your work automatically), Track Changes, Real-time Preview, a fast alignment tool (to replace WinAlign), QuickMerge (for combining individual files to speed up translation) and a customisable editing environment with user-defined short cuts for specific functions. (These are certainly enhancements in Studio, but they have actually been around in memoQ for a while.)
A few of the new features really are novel, however:
Well, that's the rundown so far. I'll learn more about it once I've tried it out myself. Hope it's not too buggy, being a new release...
To find out about the software suite yourself, you can watch various short videos that SDL Trados has produced. Click here, for instance: SDL Trados Product Tutorial Video. (N.B.: there's no sound in the video.)
The presentation below is also informative and it's spoken at a reasonable speed (unlike various other videos they've made, which are too short to be of much value and are narrated much too fast for non-English speakers):
This video is actually one of those that are accessible from the training tab in Studio 2014. Dominique Pivard has been kind enough to provide the individual links on his own blog, CATguru's vlog, so anyone can watch them in a browser and get an idea about using the CAT tool that way.
In sum, I'd say Studio 2014 looks like a very promising, mature tool, even if many of its new features aren't pioneering ones. That said, I'm keen to see what the forthcoming version of memoQ 2013 ("R2" aka "6.8") will be like, which is due out at the end of October and is said to include several new features that will make our work more convenient – like the ability to incorporate final changes made to translations into your translation memory once the texts have been exported (e.g. customer changes). Studio can already do this to a degree if the translation is converted from SDLXLIFF to Word beforehand, but this new solution may go much further. And be a real time-saver!
images: spotlights © Rainer Sturm/pixelio.de, memoQ logo © Kilgray Translation Technologies, Studio 2014 logo © SDL plc
Monday, 30 September 2013
Proz.com is holding a virtual conference day for freelance translators today. The event is free – all you need to do is register as a Proz user (if you're not one already) and then log in to the Proz platform and register to attend the conference.
The event starts at 12 noon and is due to go on until 9.15 tonight. Presentations on various topics in English will be held at specific times throughout the day (see the programme here), while other presentations in other languages are available upon demand (just click on them and then they'll start).
Here are just a few of the subjects that are going to be covered today:
If you've got a bit of time to spare, why not drop by and watch a presentation or have a say in a group discussion? It's a good opportunity for translators to learn more about subjects that concern them. Apart from being able to watch the free presentations, you can also benefit from big discounts on software for translators thanks to Proz's special promotion.
Have fun at the conference!
P.S. This event is actually the first of a series of educational events to be held by Proz.com this week: from Mon. 30 Sept. to Fri. 4 October. Click on this page for more details. Wednesday's event on working with CAT tools looks particularly interesting.
image: © Proz.com
Friday, 20 September 2013
For a while now, I've been receiving some rather odd applications for freelance work by e-mail. This prompted me to write a post about the do's and don'ts of applying for freelance work this way a little while back, which some readers will hopefully find of help for their own marketing activities. However, what I've now discovered is that most of the odd-looking applications were actually scams produced by people wanting to get assignments – and ultimately money – from gullible customers around the world.
How did I find that out? Well, simply by looking up some of the applicants' names on the Net. Many of the names that have been used seem a little strange and are actually fictitious, so it turns out. (Not all of them are, though, which makes investigation trickier.) The intriguing thing about applications of this kind is that they apparently contain lots of background information about the person that is true. Because it's been stolen from existing translators who once made their CVs available to the wrong readership by mistake!
A long directory of scammers who claim to be translators has been created by João Roque Dias, a Portuguese translator. Click here to access the page. It lists the name of the "applicant", the e-mail address they have used and the original translator whose personal details were stolen (the victims of identity theft, in other words). If you receive scam mails of this kind, but can't find the person's details on this list, then please contact João and forward the messages to him so he can double-check the data and add the scammers to his list if he deems it appropriate.
To find out more about this issue, which seems to be a big one affecting the translation industry (and many other fields as well), you might want to read the section that Proz.com has created on scammers and identity protection; click here to go to it.
There are also plenty of other sources of helpful information you can refer to, many of which are on the internet. Marta Stelmaszak, for example, has written a detailed blog post on how translators can protect the CVs they send out to prospective customers from abuse; click here to read her advice. (Among other things, she refers to an article on the BBC's website on what information you shouldn't put in a CV in the first place.)
One easy step you can take is to save your CV as a PDF file, which makes it harder for people to extract the information quickly (unless they know how). You can also write-protect the file and prevent any content from being copied by using a program like Adobe Acrobat®, say – pick the appropriate security settings before you generate the PDF file (this short video from Adobe will show you how).
If you haven't done so already, take a look at the CV you've prepared for new customers (and the personal details you've included in any internet profiles you've created on platforms such as Proz.com, Xing, LinkedIn or Facebook) and think about steps you could take to protect your own identity. This is something that's becoming increasingly necessary as the amount of networking and self-marketing we do via the internet is growing. It can be as easy as leaving out your date and place of birth and adding the words "Further details upon request" for anyone who is really interested in working with you.
And in addition to that, please think twice about sending detailed personal data to agencies en masse. Hand-pick the agencies you want to contact after checking out their websites and seeing if they are likely to be interested in receiving your application; the more you personalise your covering letter and match the requirements they specify on their website, the better your chances are of being accepted as a potential supplier of translations. By increasing the quality of the contacts you pick, you ought to find your applications become more effective and you can keep track of the agencies that have your personal details much more easily. Protect your identity – and your reputation as a translator.
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