Practical aspects of a translator's work

Extended Property for Entries plugin (serendipity_event_entryproperties) is required for this theme, which is not installed or is inactive. Please install the plugin to fully utlize this theme.

  • May, 2017
  • MemoQ 8.1 and translating PDFs

    memoQ 8.1


    Software-maker Kilgray has just released a new version of memoQ 8 that is likely to be something of a landmark development. Although memoQ has been able to import non-scanned PDF files for translation for some time, this was not a particularly strong feature up till now. Version 8.1 changes that, however, as it comes with the ability to link up to Iceni's TransPDF servers to convert PDF files and produce translatable, formatted texts that have been extracted from the source files. PDF files get converted into XLIFF format and can then be imported into memoQ by adding them to a project via a new tab called "TransPDF import/export".

    TransPDFFor more information on the steps involved, read Peter Reynolds' post on this feature (Peter works for Kilgray) and then watch this short video about it on YouTube.

    To take advantage of Iceni's software, you will need to set up a user account with them first. A trial account is for free. After that, you will need to buy some "credits" off them to be able to use the OCR feature on scanned PDFs and get a PDF file as your target format after translating it.

    According to Iceni, their PDF-conversion system supports a wide range of file types, including those from CAT tools like memoQ, Memsource and Déjà Vu. (Memsource has actually already "incorporated" TransPDF the way memoQ 8.1 has.) Rather than having to convert your files on Iceni's website and then import them into your CAT tool, you can now do this through memoQ, which is obviously more convenient.

    It's helpful to know that Iceni converts source PDFs into a file with a text-based format for free, so you can translate the resulting file and then send it to your customer for them to check or modify and then export it as PDF themselves, which is really the usual procedure. That way, they will have a copy of the translation in a format they can work with easily; if you were to send them a translated PDF, on the other hand (which Iceni would charge you for producing), then they would essentially be getting a final version off you and could only work with it by using PDF editing software such as Adobe Acrobat or ABBYY PDF Transformer.

    If you haven't heard of Iceni's PDF conversion before, why not try it out and see how well it does the job on a typical PDF file of your own? It's an alternative to using an OCR application like ABBYY FineReader and can be used regardless of whether or not you have memoQ.



    images: memoQ © Kilgray, TransPDF © Iceni

  • February, 2017
  • SDL Trados Studio 2017 - first impressions

    Studio 2017Over the last 30 days, I have been trying out SDL Trados Studio 2017, the latest version of SDL's flagship CAT tool for translators. My first impressions have been mixed: some good, some bad.

    The very first thing you should be aware of when you request a free trial version of Studio 2017 online is that you will not be getting a full-feature version of the package to try out, but one with some major restrictions. This was my first surprise as the other CAT tools I have tried out so far like memoQ translator pro, Déjà Vu X3, OmegaT, Swordfish and memsource have always been fully functional versions. Although the interface of the trial version of Studio 2017 includes icons for MultiTerm, the termbase program, and for software localisation using a powerful tool from SDL called Passolo, clicking on the icons will trigger a message saying that these programs are not installed. In other words, you can't try them out. Trying to use a CAT tool that has a translation-memory ('TM') module but not one for terminology is frustrating as it means you can translate proper files with it, but you can't import terms from other programs, which would help you with the translation.

    Funnily enough, some features of MultiTerm are actually included in the trial version, meaning you can save new terms if you want, but you can't export the termbase you create to send it to someone else or import into another CAT tool; it's stuck inside Studio 2017. I hope SDL decides to include full MultiTerm support in the next version of Studio, if not before, as being able to draw on terminology you have already collected is important for a translator.

    What did I like about Studio 2017?

    - The interface, which is quite easy to work with (i.e. it's designed in a logical way) and uses a colour scheme I now find easy on the eye (I didn't like the gaudiness of earlier colour schemes). The interface also contains a number of very useful icons such as links to tutorials and to SDL AppStore (an external, web-based resource from SDL where you can get extra add-ons to enhance Studio's out-of-the-box functionality; it used to be called OpenExchange).

    - The amount of customisation possible for the interface - you can add specific functions you need a lot to a Quick Access bar, for example.

    - The vertical translation grid, which - like memoQ's - is clear and easy to use; the source language is displayed in segments on the left, the target in segments on the right (at least in my LTR language pair, German and English; I presume this order is reversed for languages written in RTL scripts like Hebrew and Arabic).

    - You can filter segments using a wide range of practical criteria.

    - The two or three software updates that Studio installed during the trial period went quickly and smoothly.

    - The Release Notes that come with the package tell you exactly what's new in Studio 2017. They also say what issues there are with it (optical character recognition, or OCR, in PDF files that Studio can read is limited to 14 languages at the moment).

    What didn't I like about Studio 2017?

    - It's not very easy to export a TM to TMX format (which is a common file format for exchanging TM data between different programs). You can get around this limitation by installing a special add-on for exactly this purpose or by checking a settings box that allows you to export the TM in 'a Trados 2007-compatible format' (i.e. TMX!).

    - Some features that are a standard part of memoQ translator pro are not included in Studio 2017; if you want them, you need to install an add-on from SDL AppStore first. MemoQ lets you import terms from a CSV file, for example, and you can look up tricky terms on the web straight from the translation grid. Not so with Studio (yet, at least):

     external add-ons

    - The trial version includes a small number of pre-installed apps, but you can't install any extra ones of your own choice (like the Glossary Converter), meaning you can't see what they do or how well they work. (That was disappointing since there were a number of apps from SDL AppStore that I wanted to try out, too.)

    - The Studio 2017 software package is considerably bigger than memoQ translator pro's in terms of hard-disk space and takes longer to launch as well.

    - Studio 2017 won't run on Windows 8.0, Windows Vista or Windows XP; it will only run on the latest versions of Windows 7, 8.1 and 10. So some versions of Windows are fine, others aren't. Woe you've got the wrong one on your PC!

    - Studio 2017 also has issues with certain web browsers and versions of Microsoft Office.

    Please read the Release Notes carefully to see if your PC meets Studio's requirements before you install it.

    In sum, I enjoyed using the trial version of the program, which in my opinion is the best one I've worked with so far. However, my experience as a user would have been even better if all of Studio's functionality had been available. Since trial versions of programs are intended to persuade potential new users to buy the package, it doesn't make sense to offer them a restricted-feature version that will hamper their productivity rather than boost it. Apart from that, having worked with CAT tools for a good few years now, I found Studio 2017 relatively straightforward to use – many of them now work in a similar way. What I wasn't able to see instantly, however, was what clear advantages the tool has over other sophisticated packages like memoQ.

    If you are interested in getting a licence for SDL Trados Studio 2017, I recommend you to take a look at the group buys that frequently take place on as you can save a lot of money that way. SDL also runs several promotions a year itself. If you are a member of a translators' association, that may have made a special arrangement with SDL to allow its members to buy the software at a reduced rate. So there are various options you can benefit from.



    Related articles elsewhere on the internet

    - Product review by Andrea Luciano Damico

    - FAQs about Studio 2017 on SDL's own website

    - Emma Goldsmith's blog post on fragment recall in Studio 2017, a new feature in Studio to improve automatic assembly of target sentences

    - Order a free trial of Studio 2017 from SDL


  • December, 2016
  • Special end-of-year offers on scanner and PDF software

    ABBYY's logoABBYY, the software company behind FineReader, arguably the best OCR software package in town at the moment, is currently offering two of its products, FineReader 12 and PDF Transformer+, at a 25% discount until 31 December.

    FineReader scans paper documents and images and turns them into digital files, which you can save in one of various Windows or Mac formats. Its optical character recognition ('OCR') is highly accurate and can be used on a host of source languages.

    PDF TPDFransformer+ is an easy-to-use program for editing PDF files and converting them into editable file formats like Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Open Office Writer. It also lets you scan paper documents and create editable PDF files.

    Both of these programs help translators transform documents that customers send them on paper or as PDFs into digital files that can be processed in common word-processing packages and then translated with CAT tools, for example.

    To find out more about this offer, click here to go to ABBYY's website. You can watch short videos there that show you what the programs can do and download a trial version of each program as well if you want to try them out before buying them.

    This special offer has been running for a while now and is only valid until 31 December, so be quick! (I bought PDF Transformer+ recently and thoroughly recommend it; it does its job well, is easy to use and is great value for money in my opinion.)



  • Ein neues Nachschlagewerk für Übersetzer und Dolmetscher

    Best Practices

    "Best Practices – Übersetzen und Dolmetschen. Ein Nachschlagewerk aus der Praxis für Sprachmittler und Auftraggeber", (Hg.) Angelika Ottman

    Dieses vielversprechende Buch erscheint demnächst beim BDÜ Fachverlag. Hier eine kurze Beschreibung dazu:

    "Best Practices sind bewährte Verfahrensweisen, d. h. Methoden, Prozesse, Arbeitsweisen und Modelle, die sich in der Praxis bewährt haben und von einem Großteil der Praktiker angewendet und unterstützt werden. Das Werk wendet sich an alle, die mit den Dienstleistungen Übersetzen und Dolmetschen befasst sind, sei es als Ausführende (Übersetzer, Dolmetscher), als Vermittler (Agenturen) oder als Auftraggeber (Unternehmen, Behörden, Institutionen). Die Best Practices legen die Standards der Branche zu Vorgehensweisen beim Übersetzen und Dolmetschen dar. Mehr als 40 Autoren aus der Praxis geben ihr Expertenwissen weiter.

    Bis 31.12.2016 gibt es das Werk zum günstigen Subskriptionspreis.

    Für BDÜ-Mitglieder gilt bis Jahresende ein einmaliger Sonderpreis."

    (Diese Angaben zum Buch sind zuerst am 21.12.2016 auf XING erschienen. Ich gebe sie hier nur wieder. Das Werk klingt, als würde es eine sehr nützliche Informationsquelle für Übersetzer und Dolmetscher sein. Auf der Bestellseite vom BDÜ Fachverlag findet man eine PDF des Inhaltsverzeichnisses als "Leseprobe" zum Reinschnuppern ...)

    Frohe Feiertage! Carl

    P.S.: Mehr über die Inhalte des Buches erfahren Sie in der Februar-Ausgabe der Fachzeitschrift MDÜ. Einige Aspekte werden darin einen Themenschwerpunkt bilden.


  • March, 2016
  • Preparing PDF files for translation - how to handle a protected file

    PDF files are constantly being created by businesses and non-profit organisations to show colleagues, customers and other interested parties what material has been written or drawn and what its layout will be like once it's printed. Basically, they are exact images of documents and can be viewed on computers running on various operating systems, not just Microsoft Windows.

    PDFs can either be created from other electronic file formats such as Word .docx files or they can be generated by a scanner. Depending on what settings have been made in the software, the PDF files that are created may or may not be searchable. If they are, then individual words can be found in them thanks to a processing step called optical character recognition, or OCR for short. It's usually quite easy to create an editable Word file thanks to this kind of data processing; in Adobe Acrobat XI, for example, you just select these items in the 'File' menu to export the contents into a new Word document:

    save to Word format

    The 'tough nuts', in contrast, are the scanned images of paper documents we sometimes get sent, as it can take a lot of time and effort to create a reasonable editable text from these that can then be typed over and translated. To do this, you will need to use OCR software on the file in question to try and turn the image of the document into a set of legible and hopefully correctly rendered words. Sometimes this can work well, especially if you use high-quality programs such as Acrobat, ABBYY Finereader or Nuance OmniPage, which come with powerful character-recognition software. But things don't always go to plan, and the results of OCR'ing a scanned image can also be very disappointing, requiring copious editing – or even a completely different approach to creating a translatable file.

    This is the situation you may also find yourself in if you ever get sent a PDF file that has been protected (i.e. 'secured') in some way – by a password, for example, meaning you can only open it or add comments to it if you enter the password first (providing you are authorised to do so). If you don't have the password, you won't be given the full right to use and process the file. This also means you won't be able to copy its contents and paste them into a blank Word file for translation. And what then?

    Asking the customer for the password may be the obvious answer here, but if they don't have it themselves and are unable (or unwilling) to get it, what else should you do? Well, there are various suggestions about this on the internet, some of which I've tried out, but have you ever thought of using a simple work-around with a printer? That may be a faster and simpler way of getting round the password-protection issue.

    If you are able to print the file out (this may not be allowed, depending on what properties the PDF has been given – see the screen shot below on how to access these in Adobe Acrobat XI), then do so using the best resolution and clearest print you can. Scan the printout and create a brand-new, multi-page PDF from it yourself. Most types of scanner software will let you do this, including the three I've just mentioned.

    PDF properties

    When the scanner creates the new PDF file, get it to make the file searchable when you check or adjust the settings beforehand; it will then OCR it (don't forget to tell it which language it should recognise first, though). Once you've got the file, check it to see if the quality of the text is okay, and if it is, export the contents into a new Word file. Now you should find you have a Word document that is straightforward to translate. A little editing may be necessary, but not much (utilities like CodeZapper and TransTools Suite will help you tidy the file up if need be).

    Thanks to my German colleague Ludger Giebel for mentioning this idea.


    Related links

    - My earlier post on converting PDFs into a translation-friendly format using Wordfast Anywhere

    - My earlier post on Acrobat XI and Acrobat Reader

    - Kilgray, the maker of memoQ, on converting PDFs using various tools, including their own CAT tool

    - Eric le Carre on translating PDFs using various free tools

  • January, 2016
  • MemoQ in 5 minutes (3): changing the font used in memoQ's translation grid

    Did you know you can use a range of different fonts to display segments in memoQ's translation grid? You don't just have to stick to one, but can customise the appearance.

    Many translators probably don't even consider using a different font to display text in their CAT tool, but it may well be worth your while to try a few other fonts out from time to time. You may even want to change which font you use in the course of a day as your eyes get tired.

    I find that sans serif fonts are particularly easy to read on screen. These include popular fonts such as Calibri and Arial. MemoQ allows you to select a accessing memoQ's Tools menudifferent font from a drop-down list and pick a different size as well. To do this in memoQ 2014, you need to call up the 'Options' menu from 'Tools' in the main menu ...

    ... and then select the item called 'Appearance' in 'Category'. The dialogue below will then be shown.

    the Options menu

    To pick a different font, go to the 'Editor fonts' section in the top half and pick a font from 'Font family and size' (click on the downward arrow in the font box to open a drop-down menu listing all the fonts available on your computer). Separate font families are listed for Asian languages like Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

    Apart from adjusting the font you'll see in the translation grid, this dialogue box also lets you switch the colour of the text – to do this, move down to 'Editor colors' and click on the box to the right of 'Text color'.

    After making your new settings, activate them by clicking on 'Apply' or 'OK'. For some specific help on the options available here, just click on the 'Help' button on the far right.

    Options in memoQ 2015To call up the 'Options' menu in memoQ 2015, go to the dark-blue 'MemoQ' tab at the top left of the screen, click on it and then move down to 'Options' near the bottom of the list, which will display various items. Pick the 'Options' item (the three cogs) to access the settings in the dialogue.

    More details are available in the help documentation or on Kilgray's website.



    Related links

    Paul Filken's blog post on making similar adjustments via the 'View' menu in SDL Trados Studio 2014

  • December, 2015
  • BDÜ links for refugees and helpers in Germany

    BDÜ logoThe Bundesverband der Dolmetscher und Übersetzer, or BDÜ for short, is a relatively large professional association for translators and interpreters in Germany and currently has well over 7,000 members. Over the last few months, a number of these members, including the staff who run the body at a regional and national level, have been asking themselves and one another how the BDÜ can help refugees who are now coming to Germany or have already been registered by the authorities and are now living in temporary homes, awaiting a decision on their official status.

    In the latest e-mail newsletter sent out to members, one of the points mentioned is what the BDÜ has actually started doing for these needy people now, many of whom are from Syria and other war-torn countries like Eritrea and are applying for long-term residence permits without being able to speak a word of German: it has set up a special page on its national website listing numerous links to language resources of potential use to refugees and their helpers in Germany. Some of these resources are also intended for government authorities to help them interact with refugees and obtain the information they require to deal with applications, for example. So in short, the BDÜ sees its main role as acting as a linguistic and cultural consultant for these three groups of people.

    The list of links has been arranged in appropriate categories such as 'General information about life in Germany', 'Learning German', 'Teaching German as a second language' and 'Help for refugees'. The last category includes areas such as interpreters' training on asylum issues and news for refugees in their own languages, as you can see below:

    links to resources

    Some of the material listed is available in other languages than German, fortunately. Klett Verlag has produced a refugee guide on living in Germany, which is in English, Arabic and French as well as German, which is a good start in my opinion.

    Apart from publishing this list of useful information for the various groups concerned, the BDÜ is also calling on its members to contribute to the Refugee Phrasebook, which is an ongoing project in which a practical phrasebook to help users with basic phrases and terms in German is being compiled with translations in various languages. Words associated with seeing a doctor or being in hospital in Germany are listed here with equivalents in 28 languages, apparently. A juridical phrasebook has just been started on this website as well, which lawyers are contributing to on a voluntary basis.

    I wonder what supportive action is being taken by translators' and interpreters' associations in other EU countries affected by the current wave of immigration. What is happening in Greece, Italy and Sweden, for example? What does the umbrella organisation known as FIT have in mind, if anything? If you know of any similar projects outside Germany, please let me know about them.



    Related topics

    Images: logo © BDÜ, screen shot taken from the BDÜ's resources page, 'Hilfe für Flüchtlinge'.

  • November, 2015
  • Termine für Seminar verschoben!

    Das 2-tägige Seminar "Mit Erfolg in die Selbständigkeit: Sprachmittler starten durch" vom Übersetzerverband ADÜ Nord hat sich leider verschoben. Die neuen Termine der beiden Veranstaltungen sind jetzt erst im Jahr 2016:

    • Freitag, 7. Oktober 2016, 14 bis 18 Uhr, Hamburg

    • Sonnabend, 8. Oktober 2016, 10 bis 18 Uhr, Hamburg.

    Nähere Infos zur Anmeldung finden Sie in meinem letzten Beitrag sowie auf der Verbandswebsite.

    Zum Glück gibt es aber zahlreiche andere Seminare als Alternative dazu, u.a. vom BDÜ e.V., wie etwa ein Workshop für Existenzgründer am Freitag, 20. November 2015 in Köln oder die Veranstaltung "Existenzgründung für Übersetzer und Dolmetscher" am selben Tag in Karlsruhe. Schauen Sie ruhig das Angebot in Ihrer Nähe und benachbarten Bundesländern an.

    Viele Grüße



Page 1 of 7, totaling 51 entries