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 A computer journal for translation professionals

Issue 15-3-246
(the two hundred forty sixth edition)  


1. His Master's Voice

2. And the Cloud is Growing Evermore

3. One Zillion Input Formats and Counting (Premium Edition)

4. This 'n' That and Some Events

The Last Word on the Tool Box

Sex in Translation

I don't remember talking much about sex when I lived in Germany (or China), but it's a joy to bring up the topic here in small-town America -- and see the puzzled looks on the faces of my friends here. ("Is that a European thing?" or "Do I need to be culturally sensitive now?" or "REALLY?")

So I was happy to stumble on this webpage. Admittedly, I don't completely understand it, but I really liked this quote:

A translation is not a kiss, but it is perhaps a meeting of tongues.

It's a lovely double-entendre metaphor, and exactly right to boot. More even than a melding of languages, translation is an intimate act between the text and the translator. While it may not always be as exciting as this quote seems to suggest, the interaction should always be intense.

1. His Master's Voice

A couple of journals ago, Dragos Ciobanu shared in a guest column his views on the great potential benefits that can be found in speech recognition. Aside from a number of very positive comments on Twitter and through email, a very interesting discussion ensued between Dragos, Jim Wardell, Moshe Devere, and John Moran about new and different approaches to voice recognition. All of these folks are very strong proponents of voice recognition in translation; in fact, according to Moshe, "The other day I was asked what to buy first, Dragon NaturallySpeaking (DNS) or CAT. My reply was DNS - keeping yourself in good health is paramount!"

Both Jim and John have done a good amount of research on how to enable the use of voice recognition in more languages. Presently, the market-leading and most advanced product Dragon NaturallySpeaking (for Windows) supports only English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, and Japanese. (The less advanced, but usable, Windows-internal voice recognition supports Chinese, Japanese, German, French, Spanish, and English.)

Dragon's Mac product Dragon Dictate supports only English, French, German, and Italian. The Mac-internal voice recognition Mac Dictation supports English, French, German, Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish, Korean, and Italian. I don't have any experience with the Mac-internal program, but what I hear is similar to Windows: it's usable but not as advanced as DNS.

Now, we all know that our smart phones "speak" many more languages than those, and believe it or not, the very cool Swype program is made by Nuance, the same company that also makes Dragon. Swype -- as the name implies -- is primarily a program that lets you swipe over your phone keyboard rather than clumsily using your thumbs, but it also comes with a voice recognition component. And guess what the underlying engine is? That's right. It's Dragon NaturallySpeaking, of course.

While Swype is available for both Android and iOS phones, the dragonized voice recognition is unfortunately only available on Android phones (but who uses iPhones anyway, right? ;)).

Here is Swype's rather impressive list of languages: Arabic, Catalan, Chinese (CN, TW, HK), Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese.

True, it's not exactly every single language in the world, but it's certainly better than the paltry lists above.

Just as with other voice modules in your smart phones, the Swype modules are limited as well. But a lot less. And why is that? Because Siri, Cortana, and Google Now only need to know so much to work adequately. Siri, for instance, is said to have a vocabulary of about 5,000 words -- which translators understand is far from adequate. In addition, none of those tools is intended for dictation. Their purpose is to help you communicate with your smart phone (if that doesn't have a lonely ring to it, I don't know what does...). Swype's Dragon is specifically designed to take dictation -- including punctuation marks, paragraph markers, etc.

Jim Wardell (you can see a webinar he did for using DNS with memoQ right here) has actually -- bless his heart -- done a lot of tests with the Swype voice recognition on Android devices and web-based translation environment tools. Here is his latest verdict:

The accuracy of the Dragon speech recognition that is included with Nuance's Android version of Swype is quite good. Not as good as DNS, of course, but probably good enough to be used in some translation projects running in web-based CAT tools. So far I've tested AndroidSwype on a standard Samsung tablet and found that it works fine in German and English on two of the three web-based CAT tools that I've tested thus far.


That should make a lot of you happy (at least a little bit). It would be fantastic if others could do some testing in other languages and report back.

For now Android devices aren't used significantly for translation purposes, but there's no doubt in my mind that with the ongoing rise of web-based translation environment tools, our range of input devices will radically expand. Plus, the email discussion suggests that if enough folks actually use Swype Dragon, it would make a compelling business case for Nuance to continue investing into more languages and in beefing up these smaller versions into full-fledged versions that would teach more vocabulary, come with a larger set of data to start with, and include commands to correct.



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2. And the Cloud is Growing Evermore

I had an interesting talk with Paul Filkin and Luis Lopes from SDL this week about a number of issues concerning SDL products, but we particularly talked about GroupShare Cloud. This conversation went back to about a year ago when I agreed to talk with SDL reps once the GroupShare Cloud product was released last summer -- the idea being that the release of the product would be particularly exciting for all readers of this journal, including small LSPs and freelance translators. Well, it took a little longer to get together than planned, perhaps because the focus of the product has shifted. In its final form it's no longer really suited for the typical freelance translator who might want to work in groups of two or three. But more on that later.

GroupShare Cloud was rolled out last September. Presently it has 20+ customers -- about two-thirds of which are smaller LSPs and the other third translation buyers. I found that a stunningly low number for a product that's been available for six months, but Paul and Luis didn't seem to agree, and they mentioned that there might not have been enough communication about what the product actually is.

So let the communication commence.

GroupShare Cloud is a product that bundles the ability to share translation memories and termbases in real-time between a number of translators via SDL's cloud while making project files accessible via a link from which they can be downloaded onto the local machine. This in turn means that it's not possible to cooperate on one project file in real-time. But it does allow the project manager to send out a job offer to a number of potential contributors, and the first one to claim the project locks it for the others. Once the project is set into motion, an automatic notification system comes into effect where succeeding collaborators (editors, proofreaders, etc.) are notified by email when the previous stage is finished.

The project-specific settings (for example, which termbases or TMs are to be used) can be changed by the project manager midstream.

GroupShare Cloud is controlled via a relatively simple web-based user interface. Once this is set up, the settings (including users and translation memories, but unfortunately not termbases, which have to be set up separately) are accessible when the project manager sets up a GroupShare Cloud project in Trados Studio. One important setting that is set up in that interface is the user module. Unlike in other products, including some owned by SDL (the non-cloud version of GroupShare, TMS, and WorldServer), the user setup is neither particularly complex nor sophisticated. There are some domains or roles that can be assigned, but when assigning the users in the Studio interface, for instance, there is no prefiltering by language combination or other properties. One workaround to overpopulating the list of users is to work with "containers" to which you can assign both users and projects so that only a subset of users will show up for your particular project.

Translators (and editors and proofreaders) can use either the Starter edition of Trados Studio or the Freelance or Professional edition (anyone ever question that the dichotomy of "Freelance" - "Professional" suggests that freelancers are not really professionals?).

The minimum package for this product is a total of 12 concurrent licenses (2 project managers and 10 translators) that cost 200 euros per month. For a small LSP that doesn't need to worry about complex user management and has been struggling to manage projects with Trados Professional, this might indeed be a good deal. In fact, I talked with French LSP A-Propos' Gaëtan Chrétiennot who's been using GroupShare Cloud since early in the beta program, and he confirmed this by saying the product worked for him because "I don't have the time to deal with tech stuff." This is a notion that I know many other small LSPs share.

As mentioned above, though, the typical freelancer who works only sporadically in self-organized virtual workgroups will find that GroupShare Cloud really is not a feasible solution.

So what to do if you are a freelancer who uses Trados and wants to share termbases and TMs with colleagues in real-time? In this blog post, Paul Filkin lists no-cost possibilities such as using shared platforms like Dropbox. The only thing to keep in mind (aside from potential clients' concerns about sharing TMs and using the cloud) is that there are limitations on the number of users with this method. Paul advises no more than three -- but then that seems to be a relatively likely size for a freelance collaboration group.



"I had been working with another CAT tool for a few years when a new client of mine insisted on me using memoQ. I fell in love with it instantly and have been an avid user ever since."

Orsolya Bugár-Buday, Hungary  


3. One Zillion Input Formats and Counting (Premium Edition)

If that's not a cool quasi-slogan for a tool then I don't know what would be. We're talking, of course, about the Spanish/Catalan wunderkind Xbench.


. . . you can find the rest of this article in the premium edition. An annual subscription to the premium edition costs just $25 at Or you can purchase 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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4. This 'n' That and Some Events

The Ukrainian company Zentaly (most of you know that I relish observing the activities of Ukrainian developers in our space) released Textomate, a word count tool last week. I'm not sure that we necessarily need yet another word count tool (I particularly like the Ukrainian word count competitors PractiCount & Invoice and AnyCount), but Textomate has some advantages.

  • It's web-based, so it's independent of an operating system and there's no need to install anything. (I asked about security and their answer was: "It keeps files only in application memory while counting words; after that it is completely removed from memory.")
  • It's easy to share word count data with clients through a mere link.
  • It's free and will stay free in its current form (but in the future there might be a more advanced version that will be paid).
  • The range of file formats is relatively wide.

I asked about what kind of parameters they use for word counts and this is what they answered: "Our algorithm is pretty close to MS Word but sometimes gives a little bit more ... as we also count words even in rarely used areas like text boxes, shapes, comments, footers, headers, etc."

There you go.


Georg Löckinger just finished his PhD at the university of Vienna with his thesis Übersetzungsorientierte Fachwörterbücher: Entwicklung und Erprobung eines innovativen Modells,which can be freely downloaded as a PDF on this webpage. I'm not going to bother you with a translation of the title (if you don't read German, you won't download and read his work anyway), but here are some extracts of Georg's English abstract:

It is widely known that special language translators need specialised language resources that are tailor-made for their needs. Yet only few reference tools meet special language translators' complex requirements. Thus, there is often a substantial gap between their needs and the special language resources that are available to them.

The present thesis has the twofold objective of

a) developing an innovative model of translation-oriented special language dictionaries that is based upon the practice of special language translation and the relevant scholarly literature,

b) testing the resulting model in an empirical study to investigate its usefulness in the practice of special language translation.

I actually read through (most of) his thesis and was particularly interested in his concept that "the translation-oriented special language dictionary must allow for access to all of its data from within one user interface."

In my opinion, this user interface needs to be a translation environment tool. That prompted this thought: What if electronic dictionary providers provided simple TBX files that could be treated as a glossary-like termbase within a TEnT while also providing links to the much richer information within the actual dictionary. Wouldn't that be cool?


Here are some events that might have flown under the radar for some.

On April 3 the third meeting of the Moscow Translation Club (Московский Переводческий Клуб) happens in, well, Moscow (see here). It sounds like many of the makers and shakers of the Russian (-speaking) world of translation will show up for that. The theme will be translation technology with the provocative thesis that the "translation industry" is (already) an IT industry.

And on April 18 there will be a panel discussion on "Machine Translation, CAT Tools and the Shifting Landscape of the Translation Industry" at New York University (see here). I would have loved to join that but will be in the air that day on the way to another commitment.


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