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 A computer journal for translation professionals

Issue 15-2-245
(the two hundred forty fifth edition)  


1. Linguee or: How We Can Do Better (Premium Version)

2. Battle of Wits

3. Quark

4. Interesting Ideas

The Last Word on the Tool Box

What Are We Made Of?

In the very first column I wrote for the ATA Chronicle six or so years ago, I talked about an opportunity for translators to work with technical authors on TM-based authoring because of our experience in working with translation memories. Since then, some of the products that allowed for TM-based authoring have actually been discontinued (including SDL's and Sajan's tools), and it would be fair to say that TM-based authoring never quite delivered what many -- including me -- saw as a promise. I can't help but wonder how much responsibility we actually had for that. And with "we" I don't mean the tool vendors (though it's always fun to blame them), but "we" as service providers who had some very good insights on how to work with TMs and what to avoid.

Of course, by now this is all water under the bridge, but then I also thought about this: In our day-to-day work, we often fail to realize the incredible expertise we have accumulated and continue to build with every additional day as translators.

When I talk to young translators or translation students, I always try to encourage them to start thinking about at least one complementing but separate professional activity next to translation. Not because there isn't enough translation work or because I feel we need to protect ourselves from the day when the machines take over (that's not going to happen!), but because I feel that it's helpful to step away from translation every once in a while, whether to clear the mind or to guard against tunnel vision or to use your talents in different ways.

You see, translation is a field that requires complex and curious people. And whether we're aware of it or not, we're building a large portfolio of unique and worthwhile insights and areas of expertise.

Here's a list that I compiled in a matter of minutes (you could call it a brain dump of sorts). It's certainly one that can be added to many times over. I encourage you to look through it, add your own insights, and imagine how you could use those skills professionally, maybe in a way not directly related to translation. (And while we're at it, let's resolve not to let go of the next set of opportunities that comes our way!)

  • International marketing
  • Terminology maintenance
  • Project management
  • Quality assurance
  • Editing and proofreading
  • Writing
  • Usability (vs. quality)
  • Subject expertise
  • Ability to process new information quickly
  • Database maintenance
  • Balancing of technology and human skill
  • (Some) understanding of AI
  • Grasp of the changing nature of languages
  • Awareness of the need to preserve languages
  • Understanding of the power of language(s)
  • Written language/fonts
  • International layouts/user interfaces
  • Unicode and other code pages
  • Multi-channel publishing
  • __________________
  • __________________
  • __________________
  • __________________

1. Linguee or: How We Can Do Better (Premium Version)

Linguee just released a completely overhauled version of its... well, I've always had a hard time describing exactly what it is. Corpus tool? Search engine? Dictionary? Finally, in its latest incarnation, it's clear just what it wants to be: a dictionary. And according to its CEO Gereon Frahling, it's not just a dictionary but it's going to be the online dictionary.

If you've used Linguee in the past and found it as helpful as I have, you'll immediately see what's different (in fact, you might have discovered this long before reading this if you use it day-in-day-out).

If you search for single terms in one of the supported languages (here's a complete list), you won't primarily see the previous results from its enormous corpus of online material; instead, you'll see results from its dictionary (including synonyms and usage examples) at the top of the page. Previously those entries were shown as well, but less prominently and with lesser quality.

. . . you can find the rest of this article in the premium edition. If you'd like to read more, an annual subscription to the premium edition costs just $25 at Or you can purchase the new edition of the Translator's Tool Box ebook and receive an annual subscription for free. A subscription to the Premium edition will also give you access to the archives of newsletters going back to 2007.



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2. Battle of Wits

I'm enjoying the battle of wits taking place between the makers of memoQ and Trados (actually, it's SDL's Paul Filkin speaking for Trados, though Paul insists that sometimes -- especially on weekends and in the evenings -- he is a sans-SDL Paul Filkin).

If you've glanced at even a few of the past 244 Tool Box Journals, there's a reasonable chance that you've seen a mention of memoQ's Do-not-press-this-button button, a delightful button devoid of any immediate productivity-increasing features but reminiscent of an episode perhaps equally devoid of significance in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:

Arthur Dent: Ford? Ford! Help here!

Ford: Um...let's push this button here! [Pushes button] [

Screen displays "Do not press this button again"]

Arthur: Uh, no! no no no no no!)

Sadly, memoQ eliminated that magic button from the latest incarnation of its program, so the sans-SDL Paul Filkin responded with this YouTube video that unveiled the latest (imagined) SDL Trados Studio with a feature "specifically for memoQ users":  

don't push this button!


3. Quark

Once upon a time, the world of desktop publishing was oh-so-nice and predictable. No one (important) really cared about languages other than English (and if they did, they'd have to shell out some extra dough), everything happened only on the desktop computer, and the only ones interested in DTP software were professional print shops with their pockets still lined with money. QuarkXPress was thriving and essentially owned the market. But as so often happens, the developers became lazy, lost touch with modern developments, and things started to go downhill.

That was indeed the story of QuarkXPress, and though they're still around, they're lagging far behind Adobe InDesign and the many DITA and XML-based solutions.

Of course, the "still around" part forces us translation service providers to pay attention. Not everybody has to be able to support clients who ask for the translation of Quark files, but everyone should know what it entails, and some of us need to be able to step up and actually serve those clients.

That seems easy enough. Lots of translation environment tools say that they support QuarkXPress. In practice, however, most support either a prohibitively tedious process of saving each text box (story) within a Quark file individually, or they support a third-party product such as CopyFlow Gold for QuarkXPress, which produces a tagged file format from Quark files, or ex TranslationFilter by CoDesCo, which produces an XLIFF file. Either of these tools allows for all stories to be exported in one process, translated, and then reimported in one go as well.

While ex TranslationFilter already supports Quark current version 10 and plans to support the upcoming version 2015, Peter Baumgartner, the guy behind CopyFlow, sent out an email to customers that I really appreciated:

We are evaluating again whether to proceed with a project to port CopyFlow Gold to Quark 10 and the upcoming Quark 2015. There is a considerable development effort to accomplish this on both the Mac and Windows platforms. I'd like to ask you to quickly reply to this email if you think you will have an interest in purchasing CopyFlow Gold for Quark 10 or Quark 2015; and if so whether for Mac or Windows. If we do go forward we expect these upgrades will be priced a bit more than usual at $295.00, list price will remain at $495.00.

There you have it. Those who have worked with CopyFlow know that it's extremely reliable. If you still need to support Quark and are already using CopyFlow, rather than shell out €495 for a copy of ex TranslationFilter, send Peter an email at to let him know what you need.

(Note that Star Transit actually offers XGate, a plug-in that directly processes Quark files up to version 9.2, and Quark offers an integration of Across into its workflow.)



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4. Interesting Ideas

Remember my bet in the last journal that by the end of this year at least two more tools would also have memoQ's cool new feature to quickly build up segmentation exceptions by scanning files you import for such candidates? An unbelievable four days after sending out that edition, Cafetran (see my last review in the archives in edition 224) had already implemented that feature, and Kilgray's István nobly reminded me that Star Transit has had a similar feature for years. I guess it would be reasonably fair to say that I won my own bet, though a little sheepishly because I had forgotten about Star Transit's feature.


Another interesting concept is Kevin Dias's TM-Town (full disclosure: I've done some consulting for Kevin). At some point I will write a more comprehensive review of the product that he has built (and is still in the process of perfecting), but here is the "interesting idea" part: TM-Town enables translation buyers to locate a suitable translator by comparing the texts that need to be translated with either the translation memories of translators or some other texts the translators have already translated and with which the client's texts might have some similarities.

It's not going to be easy to make this all work seamlessly, and it requires a certain number of participants to make it worthwhile for clients to look for translators, but I love the idea and would encourage you to check out what Kevin has come up with.


Yet another intriguing idea comes from Across System, which has started a consultation forum of translators that will regularly meet with the Across product development team to make the tool more translator-friendly. This follows a similar initiative last year when a comparable forum of translation companies was launched.

For a long time, Across was an easy tool for many in the world of translation to dislike, despite the fact that a fully functional version is free for freelance translators. After all, the main customer base consisted of translation buyers who used their leverage to make their suppliers ("us") use the tool as well. So the very conception of Across was not meant to be attractive for translation providers (including an almost complete rejection of exchange standards). But if these two consultation forum initiatives are a sign of a changed approach, I for one certainly welcome it. I have the names of the translators who are part of the forum and would be glad to pass them on to anyone who is interested (note: I'm not part of it). (You can find my last write up of Across in edition 237 in the archives.)


Video game translation fanatic Alain Dellepiane has already received a lot of attention for this year's  game translation contest LocJAM, but I would like to give him a shout-out nevertheless. The competition started on February 22, and you can find all you need to know at Happy game-translating!


A number of years ago I couldn't help but make fun of the term "unconference"; now it's no longer even recognized as a typo in MS Word. It's also become a rather established form of meeting in localization circles, and reader Martin Wunderlich asked me to announce the first German unconference in Munich on June 18 and 19.



Italian colleague Alessandra Martelli has published21 Free Tools & Utilities for Translators. It's exactly what the title says it is, and it's free as well (if you don't count a social media nod in return as payment). As a reader of the Tool Box Journal you'll be familiar with many of the tools she mentions, but some were new to me (and might be for you). I especially liked RescueTime and SlimTimer. Wanna know more? Download the book.


Spiros Doikas of the English-Greek translation portal Translatum has developed a number of online conversion tools, including a TMX to tab delimited text converter, an Excel to TMX converter, and an Excel to Multiterm XML converter.

I asked Spiros about the development of these tools and the safety of the uploaded data. Here are his responses:

I developed them with the help of a programmer. A couple of them (tmx to txt and Excel to tmx) were based on similar (offline) tools by András Farkas.

The idea behind it is, yes, there are some great offline apps that do a similar job, but sometimes we may not have access to them or just need a quick conversion without much hassle. And then again, most people who are not tech-savvy appreciate the simplicity of just upload and have it converted.

Files are deleted hourly from the server using a cron job which checks the age of the files and if they are older than 1 hour, deletes them. They are not used in any way whatsoever. However, I would not recommend anyone trying to convert files which contain any kind of sensitive information, as the process is done through CGI and HTTP and not HTTPS.



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