International Translation Day under our belts and, yes, I admit that I
wasn't as happy as the occasion should have warranted. We worked so
hard to lobby Google to commemorate the day by creating a special
doodle and . . . doodle-dee-dah, nothing happened. Grrr! I for one have
been using Bing since September 30!
it's too bad that Google didn't follow our advice -- after all so much
of what they do deals with translation. Maybe next year? I
won't hold my breath, but, along with most of you, I'd certainly
there has been some very positive news in the world of translation
during the past couple weeks. One that made me terribly proud was the
news that Arabic translator and poet Khaled
Mattawa won the MacArthur Award (aka the Genius Grant). This
is the coolest award ever, given out once a year to a dozen or so
outstanding and creative folks in any field. And the 600,000+ US
dollars that come with it can be spent in any way the recipient sees
fit. And let me say it again: A TRANSLATOR RECEIVED IT THIS YEAR! Cool,
story that filled me with pride as a translator concerns Hans Boland, a Russian>
Dutch translator who was chosen to be the recipient of the Pushkin
medal, the highest honor for a Russian translator, from the hands of
Putin himself. Hans said: "Not from that guy!" and refused the honor.
Some of you may not agree politically (though you might have forgotten
the tragic Malaysian Airlines flight that originated from Amsterdam),
but you will have to admit that this is an admirable act of
Zivilcourage (the courage to stand up for your beliefs).
speaking of Zivilcourage: in a few talks I gave in Europe during the
last couple of weeks, I tried to introduce the concept of community for
the world of translation. I've often discussed here and elsewhere that
the concept of "industry" is a difficult one for most of us working in
translation. The difference between the various groups producing
translations is just too vast to be lumped into a cohesive whole. And
the fact that there are such differences between many of us is only
emphasized by "lobbying" or interest groups like ATA, FIT, GALA, TAUS,
IAPTI, IATIS, and many others. Maybe we can agree that each of those
groups represents its own industry, but the point I've been trying to
make is that together we form -- or should form -- a community. We do
have common interests. Remember: many of you joined me in asking Google
to honor International Translation Day because it was in Google's
interests as well as ours. And I think that's the spirit - one that
celebrates languages and communication -- that unites us as a
community. The stuff that separates us is well defined by the many
interest groups, and they are free to battle out their differences. It
might just be a good idea to do it internally and not out in the open.
1. Hard Numbers
a recent conversation, David Canek from Memsource
shared some interesting observations with me that I would like to pass
on. For those who don't know, Memsource is a cloud-based
translation environment tool that's been around since 2010 and
presently has about 30,000 registered users. That number might be a
little misleading since it includes everyone who's ever registered,
even if only to try the tool, but it's still a tool with a rapidly
growing user base. And there are good reasons for that: While all the
resources are stored online (thus "cloud-based"), you can choose
between a web-based and a desktop-based translation editor with
virtually the same functionality. In fact, when I recently showed the
web-based translation interface to the European Parliament translators
as one example of a user-friendly translation interface, you could
almost see the unfortunate memories of clunky web-based interfaces of
the past blowing out of their minds.
I don't want to talk about Memsource, the tool, as much as
about how users use Memsource. Since it's a cloud-based tool,
it's easy for the Prague-based company to access aggregate statistical
numbers across the entire cloud. David and his team recently looked at
what percentage of users are using the TM and termbase features, what
percentage are using machine translation, and which machine translation
engine (if any) they're using.
are the results:
memory: 28.8% don't use the TM feature (vs. 71.2% who use it)
61.6% don't use the termbase feature (vs. 38.4% who use it)
translation: 53.8% don't use MT (vs. 46.2% who use it)
- Kind of
machine translation engine: Of all MT users, more than 98% used either
Google Translate or the various options of Microsoft Bing Translator
(vs. less than 2% using non-public engines, even though there are
preconfigured connectors to the following MT engines: Apertium,
Asia Online, KantanMT, LetsMT, MoraviaMT,
NICT, PangeaMT, Systran, and Tauyou)
are very valuable numbers. And while I'm sure they would differ to some
degree in other tools, I would bet that the general direction is
look at them in some more detail. The translation memory numbers are
probably the most surprising: Almost a third of all users don't
actually use TMs. In a certain sense that should make me happy as a
long-time warrior against the term "translation memory tool," but it
still seems odd that so many don't value translation memory. My guess
is that most of these users are casual translators (there is a free Memsource
edition for that type of user) who don't really understand the TM
concept, or who are just interested in accessing MT content for the
great variety of file formats that Memsource supports. If
that's true, we need to keep that in the back of our minds for the
termbase numbers are somewhat unsurprising, though I might have
expected an even lower usage of terminology databases. In this column
(and elsewhere) I have often vented about the unfortunate underuse of
terminology components in translation environment tools. In that sense,
it's actually a positive development that more than a third of users
are using the termbase -- especially if our assumption about a segment
of non-professional users is correct.
on to machine translation. There has been a chorus of voices in the
last few years, especially in the MT community, claiming that even
though so many translators are complaining about MT, a relatively large
percentage of them are "secretly" using it. With almost half of all Memsource
users proven to be using machine translation, I think we can say that
there is some credence to that notion. Granted, we might have to take
some percentage points off to account for amateur translators, but it's
safe to say that significantly more than a third of all professional
users of Memsource are using MT (more than use termbases!). Of
course, it would be interesting to analyze those numbers further (for
instance, to find out which language combinations are using it to what
degree and how the MT suggestions are actually being used), but David
and his team chose not to only have a high-level view of usage data.
more striking are the kinds of MT engines that are being used. Almost
everyone is using generic public engines (Google, Microsoft) where the
source is being sent to and further processed by the MT providers. In
fact, in Memsource's particular case, a large percentage of
users even select to send the target segments. (This option is called
"Microsoft with Feedback" and goes back to an agreement between
Memsource and Microsoft that users don't pay any fees if they use that
option; in exchange, they send the target segment as well. Note that
you can also use the regular Microsoft engine with Memsource.)
makes me wonder about the answers to two questions:
our concept of data sharing evolved to the point that we feel
comfortable with much of our data being shared with large corporations
like Google and Microsoft? I'm guessing that many of our clients would
answer that question with a fairly resounding "no." I don't want to
stir up a hornet's nest here, but I would likely respond to those
clients like this: "So you also don't want me to use Gmail or other web
services in which data is also being analyzed?" In a way that should
settle the first question.
is the second question, though: If so many of us are using machine
translation, why don't we use customized engines? After all, the MT
community has been telling us that only with those will we see some
real progress. Here my hunch is that while many of the MT vendors tell
us that (theoretically) it's easy to build custom MT engines and access
those services, in practice that's not really the case. The vendors
still seem to have a lot of work to do. Whether that consists of making
access easier or showing us that the results are actually superior
remains to be seen, and chances are it'll be a mixture of the two.
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years ago I talked about the TSO or the "Trados Studio
Opportunity." Back then, when SDL released a completely overhauled
version of Trados that really required as much retraining to
use as a completely new translation environment tool would take in the
first place, I really hoped that a competitor -- or better yet: several
competitors -- would show up and use this opportunity to claim some
market share to make the market landscape a little more diverse.
Whatever one might think of Trados -- and I think it's a
powerful tool -- competition fosters creativity and advancement and is
therefore desirable for us as users.
was really the only one who showed up (in an effective manner), and I
commend it for that. memoQ has garnered a significant market
share in the past few years; though it hasn't tumbled Trados
from its first place position, it's made the marketplace a lot more
interesting. Of course, there are plenty of other tools as well (as
readers of this journal know only too well), but I think it's fair to
say that none has a market penetration for all sectors of the
translation world like memoQ.
memoQ was able to do this by delivering extreme
versatility as far as its features, a simultaneous focus on the
different kinds of groups that deliver (or require) translation, and
great creativity mixed with unerring reliability in its development.
enough, a couple of new players have shown up recently with the
potential to shake up our market a little bit more -- and I like that
is Smartling. Many of you have already worked in it, and those
who haven't will certainly have heard of it -- its marketing budget
(and savvy) make it a dominant presence in virtually any venue. It's
not just the marketing budget that is large, though - the company has
received more than $65 million in investments, allowing it to hire
top-notch developers and top-notch virtually everything, so we can
expect it to continue to grow significantly over the next couple of
Smartling does have a program for language service providers, the
primary target is mid-size and large translation buyers, and the
technology then essentially trickles down to the translation providers.
So though this is not a product that is primarily focused on
translation providers, it will have a tremendous impact on the market
and many of us will spend significant time working in it in the months
and years to come. I worked in Smartling a couple of months ago
and wasn't too happy with several features from a translator's point of
view, but afterward I had a long talk with its CEO, Jack Welde. He
promised to make the translation interface more translator friendly,
and it's possible that some of that has already taken place.
wouldn't be surprised if Smartling were able to garner 50%+ of
the technology market share in certain markets, especially among
tech-savvy translation buyers who are easily impressed with the upstart
nature of their business.
should help SDL (and Kilgray) to stay alert. And we're all the better
potential market shake-up of sorts comes from a very different kind of
company that many of you know from a different context. ABBYY is
typically known to translators as a provider of high-quality OCR
(optical character recognition) technology and what may be the best PDF
conversion tool (PDF Transformer). Many of you also know that
ABBYY has a language service arm, too (ABBYY Language Services), and in
that capacity it has been building language technology solutions for
some time. ABBYY Aligner has been around for quite a while,
and there has been a lot of talk about the translation environment tool
SmartCAT, which is now finally going to be released by the end of this
. . . you can find the rest of this article in
the premium edition. If you'd like to read more, an annual subscription
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Language Server v6: The Most Important New Features at a Glance:
Dashboard: Relevant project information at a glance.
Review Mode: Easy involvement of international subsidiaries in the
Data Cube: Easy collection of indicators.
Management Cockpit: Optimized work process for project managers.
out more about Across version 6 at www.across.net/en/support/whats-new/
3. Showed Me What You Know!
time I mentioned some helpful tricks in the Tool Box Journal
and said that everyone who knew them all would get a free copy of Found in Translation. I
ended up sending out two.
of you also sent some other tricks that might be helpful:
instance, that elusive middle mouse button might get a lot more use
once you realize you can also use it in a web browser to open a link in
a new tab (rather than replacing the web page you're currently viewing)
(thanks to Chantal Frigon for that).
how about these Office tricks (all from Shai Nave):
- Pressing F4 repeats the last command.
For instance, if you changed one section into bold characters or a
different color, you can repeat that by selecting another section and
- Shift+F5 takes you back to
the last location where you changed something in the document. I don't
have to tell experienced editors or translators that that's helpful.
- Ctrl+F3 cuts selected text to
the "spike," which is sort of a clipboard that can hold several items.
If you empty the spike with Ctrl+Shift+F3,
it pastes all the cut items to the place of your cursor. Great for
rearranging documents or for otherwise heavy editing.
one last one for Windows 7 and above (also from Shai):
- The Windows
Calculator has some fancy conversion and other features that you
might not know about. Open the Calculator (type calculator into the Start
menu in Windows 7 or press Winkey+F and type calculator in Windows 8)
and then press Ctrl+H
(or select View> History) to save and display all previous
calculations and easily access them. Under the View menu you
can also find many other helpful modes. The most interesting for
translators is probably the Unit Conversion mode (you can also
press Ctrl+U to open
that). It offers a lot of preconfigured conversions -- many more than
Google does (but not quite as few as my favorite tool, Convert).
hope you find some of these tips useful. This time I won't give out
books but would instead like to remind you that Christmas is coming,
and with that the opportunity to send Christmas presents to clients
and/or potential clients. There is simply no better gift than Found in Translation, in
my humble opinion -- it'll show your clients how important your
profession is and why they should work with you. You can find
information on how to bulk order lots of copies for greatly reduced
prices right here, and if you'd
like me to sign the books before you send them out we can find a way to
do that as well (just send me an email so we can talk about it).
Kilgray is traveling the
world to meet you!
tuned! Mark the following dates in your calendar and meet Kilgray at
these upcoming events...
- ATA in
Chicago on 5-8 November 2014: attend a pre-conference memoQ
training session for beginners, visit the Kilgray-memoQ booth
for memoQ translator pro and server demos, and ask
our support manager questions at the tool bar
- tekom in
Stuttgart, Germany, on 11-13 November 2014: get free vouchers to
enter the market hall, make appointments with the memoQ team,
attend booth demos and get firsthand information on memoQ 2014
ensure that there is a timeslot dedicated only to you, please make an
appointment with us at email@example.com.
We look forward to
meeting you in Chicago and in Stuttgart!
The Last Word on
the Tool Box Journal
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