Greetings from Miami! This Tool Box
Journal comes straight from the ATA conference in beautiful and warm
Miami. (The other 1,600 attendees all asked me to say "hello" to
you, too! By the way, a good way to follow the goings-on in Miami is right here.)
Yes, I know, this is a very late
newsletter -- but at least I have a halfway adequate excuse this time. I
have been frantically working on finalizing the 12th version of
the Translator's Tool Box ebook. And, you know what, I don't even
feel too conceited when I say it's done and it's great and I'm oh-so-proud
It's been a long time since I released a new
version of the Tool Box (more than one-and-a-half years), so it's no
surprise that a lot has changed in the book. But I was surprised myself
after I took stock of how much I actually had to update: I added 50 more
pages to the now 450-page book (and took out a good 30 pages of obsolete
information!), replaced or added half of the 280 images, updated dozens and
dozens of links, inserted an entirely new chapter on audiovisual and
multimedia translation by Carolina Alfaro de Carvalho, included all the new
translation environment tools that have shown up in the last 18 months (and
removed some others )-; ), covered the new version of Windows (10)
and all the other essential tools (Trados, memoQ, Déjà Vu,
Wordfast, Acrobat, Office, etc.), and published it
simultaneously in three different formats -- PDF, a handsome HTML5 help
system and an EPUB ebook format, all of which are included in one purchase.
When I published the first edition of the
Tool Box thirteen years ago, I obviously had no idea that the book would
end up being a textbook for virtually all US and many Canadian university
translation technology courses and a major resource for translators around
the world. But it is, and I'm glad and thankful for it!
If you already purchased any version in the
past, you are eligible for the upgrade price of $25. For first-time buyers,
$50 -- no, make that $40 for subscribers of the Tool Box Journal
through the end of November. Just go to www.internationalwriters.com/toolbox, enter the respective pricing and I will send you a
link to a zip file with the three different editions.
Oh, and every buyer of the book gets a
year's worth of free subscription to the Premium edition of the Tool Box
The Words You Want. Anywhere, Anytime.
Let WordFinder open a new world of
opportunities- get access to millions of
words and translations from the best dictionaries, on your computer, via a
web browser, on your smartphone or tablet. Stuffed with lots of smart
WordFinder has what you need as a translator in your everyday work - anywhere,
more at www.wordfinder.com
1. Fair Trade Translation
Gert van Assche and Daniel Marcu are what
you would call veterans in the world of translation. Gert has worked
independently and for SDL (or companies that were eventually acquired by
SDL) for many years; Daniel Marcu was the brain behind LanguageWeaver,
the first viable commercial statistical machine translation system that was
eventually also acquired by SDL and is now, after many rebirths, the engine
that drives the SDL BeGlobal and Language Cloud solutions.
They have now teamed up to offer something
rather interesting that they call FairTradeTranslation.
I agree, it's a funny name -- reminds me of the smell of Nicaraguan coffee
beans from my youth -- but it seems to be a relatively accurate description
of what their system actually does.
Let's start from the beginning, though.
In a recent article on LinkedIn,
Daniel states that "in spite of massive progress, MT does not yet
deliver consistent or high quality. However, low-quality MT is often shoved
onto the workbenches of professional translators who are asked to create
high-quality products by post-editing bad MT while being paid less for 'the
privilege of being more productive.'"
I know many would agree with this, but to
appreciate it completely you have to understand who's talking. This is the
person whose company was the first to commercialize statistical machine
When I talked with Gert and Daniel a couple
of weeks ago, Daniel said something similar but almost more striking. While
some big enterprises have built good machine translation engines, he said,
the percentage of the market that is served with those is "a drop in
I know! Right!?
I'm writing this at the tail end of the MT
Summit 2015 in Miami where I was asked to be on a panel on translators
and machine translation. Those who have read my newsletter for a while know
that I have been invited a number of times to speak at MT conferences as a
quasi-representative of translators. Each time I felt honored and always
tried to represent you adequately (knowing all along that I was inevitably
doomed to failure because there is no "collective you"). It was
interesting this time, though, that some of the responses I received were a
little edgier than before. I had suggested that machine translation is a
very welcome technology, especially as we've been able to work with it in
the last year or so - as an integral component of the existing translation
process rather than exclusively as a source for post editing. One fellow
from IBM in particular was exceedingly unhappy with the suggestion that
post-editing might not be the most productive way of dealing with machine
translation, pointing to the IBM translators who worked with IBM's
high-quality internal machine translation and how little they have to
change to the output. So why would I suggest otherwise?
He might be completely right -- but what he
is saying has nothing to do with you or me (minus the folks who do indeed
work for IBM and a handful of other comparable customers with a similar
And really, that's one of the areas where
relatively isolated discussions on machine translation are just that:
isolated or, to quote Daniel again, "a drop in the bucket."
So, back to FairTradeTranslation.
They provide you with a platform that allows you to upload MS Office
or text files or (SDL)XLIFF files. The next steps:
- machine translate
the file (if the system thinks that the three connected engines -- Google
Translate, Microsoft Translator, and SDL Language Cloud
-- have a "good enough match"),
- evaluate existing
translations (if the file is a pretranslated XLIFF file),
- replace those
translations if it can find better ones, and
- give you an estimate
of the quality of the machine translation so you know how profitable
it will be to work on that file or project.
The underlying software for the tool is a
statistically-based system that attempts to evaluate the quality of the MT
proposals (even in comparison to low fuzzy TM matches) and, according to a
setting determined by you, simply deletes or replaces poor MT suggestions
(or TM matches) rather than passing on the bother and frustration to you.
Gert and Daniel know that the system is not
infallible; in fact, in the FAQ section they say this: "Q: How can I
fool the system? A: In many ways. For example, if you choose to submit a
file with human translations, we will reject some as being not good enough
-- translations produced by machines and humans are different, after
That's right, but if a) you're using machine
translation as a base translation that you then want to post-edit; b) you
know that your clients have no problem with their texts going to public
resources (especially the Microsoft Translator is an issue here);
and/or c) you need a quick way to look over a pre-machine-translated
project to see whether it's worth your time before you commit to
post-editing it, FairTradeTranslation might be a very interesting
solution for you.
As a rare and casual user (up to 5,000 words
a month), and if you're only interested in the basic features, you can use
the system for free. If you want to process higher volumes and want the
system to learn from your editing choices and selected options, you can pay
$149 a year (for up to half a million words).
I'm not sure whether this system is going to
completely change how most of us work -- it might mean some changes for
some -- but what I really, really like about it is this: It's just so
creative and it shows that we are doing very well if we have smart folks
coming up with such smart solutions for us.
The complaint that the world of translation
is not vibrant enough and does not come up with enough creative solutions
is just wrong. We are doing quite well on that front.
Webinar with limited places!
word, right place
How do I use and maintain terminology
In this webinar, you will learn how easy it
is to get started with terminology work using the TermStar
terminology management system as an integrated component of Transit.
Webinar for beginner translators and
November 24, 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. (UTC+1)
To register, simply send an e-mail to email@example.com
applicability of the Tilde Terminology service might just sky-rocket
with the release of a Trados Studio plugin for Studio 2014 and 2015. . .
. . . you can find the rest
of this article in the Premium edition. An annual subscription to the
premium edition costs just $25 at www.internationalwriters.com/toolkit. I
would encourage you to subscribe. Your support makes my research and
in-depth analyses of the translation technology market possible.
3. The Tech-Savvy Interpreter: Choosing a USB
Headset for Remote Interpreting (Column by Barry Slaughter Olsen)
With a growing number of platforms that
provide remote simultaneous interpretation for a plethora of use cases
(e.g. Interprefy, VoiceBoxer, ZipDX), interpreters now find themselves
needing to equip their offices with the right equipment for the job. And since
we don't have a sound technician on the payroll (or at least I don't),
knowing a bit about sound and headsets becomes a real asset.
For this month's installment of the Tech-Savvy
Interpreter I want to focus on something absolutely crucial for anyone
planning to work remotely as a simultaneous interpreter. It's called
"full-duplex audio." Put simply full-duplex audio allows you to
receive and transmit audio signals at the same time-something absolutely
essential for simultaneous interpreting, of course. This simultaneous
two-way flow of audio is often called "doubletalk" by audio
engineers (No, it is not the sinister cousin of Orwellian
"doublespeak"). For the tech geeks out there, you can read more
about it here.
Unfortunately, as we discovered when
building a remote simultaneous interpretation platform a few years ago,
finding a high-quality USB headset that is capable of simultaneously
receiving and transmitting high-quality audio is not a simple task. The
reason? Many of the USB audio chips used in headsets today can't deliver a
consistent audio signal from the microphone while sound is being played in
the headphones. And that is a big problem if you plan to use the headset
for simultaneous interpretation.
Most retail electronics stores do not stock
more than one or two models of USB headsets-usually low-end models for the
occasional Skype user and high-end models for hard-core video gamers. To
complicate things further, sales associates usually don't know enough to
provide the guidance to ensure you get the USB headset you need. So what's
a hardworking simultaneous interpreter to do?
Fortunately, there are a handful of
full-duplex-capable models out there that handle doubletalk very well. A
big "thank you" to Michael Graves from ZipDX for compiling this list. All
headsets have been tested and can send and receive high-quality audio at
the same time. For convenience's sake, the links offered below are to
Amazon. The headsets, however, can be purchased from multiple sources.
· VXi Passport 21V:
This is a great, inexpensive headset from a company that only makes
headsets. It's light, comfortable, durable and sounds great. They are
available in single or dual-ear models. VXi sells refresh kits that include
new foam for the earpieces and pop filter for the mic. That gives you some
sense of how long they expect the headset to last.
The headset cable ends in a "Quick
Disconnect" (QD) fitting. You must add a suitable lower cable, of
which there are three:
VXi Passport 21P: This is the same headset as the first option, but
equipped with a Plantronics type Quick-Disconnect connector. This allows it
to be used with a less expensive Plantronics DA40 USB adapter cable.
Jabra BIZ2400 Duo: These are light and sound good. The round control in
the cord has a rotary volume control with mute function.
Plantronics Blackwire C720: On a pure audio quality basis this headset works
adequately. It's not the most comfortable. It connects to the computer via
USB. It has a control in the middle of the wire that's actually a Bluetooth
radio, so it can also be paired to a cell phone.
Logitech H650e: These USB headsets are available in single or
dual-ear models. They're not as durable as the VXi. They have a flat cable
that some may find to be stiff.
You'll notice that all of these USB headsets
are wired. Wireless technology introduces a whole new set of complications
and is best avoided for remote simultaneous interpretation.
Do you have a question about a specific
technology? Or would you like to learn more about a specific interpreting
platform, interpreter console or supporting technology? Send us an email at
Do your clients need simultaneous
interpretation for conference calls?
has pioneered proprietary technology that makes high-quality over-the-phone
simultaneous interpreting a reality for both the public and private
sectors. A "multilingual conference call" or "multilingual
virtual meeting" works like a regular conference call, connecting
several people in different locations. ZipDX
enables a multilingual conversation or discussion by making it possible to
connect simultaneous interpreters to the call. Interpreters can be located
anywhere and use a web-based virtual interpreter console.
Our pricing model makes it simple and cost
effective for interpreters and language service companies to offer remote
simultaneous interpretation for virtual meetings.
Want to learn more? Watch our video: https://www.zipdx.info/solutions/multilingual/
us by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org | Phone us
at +1 888 ZIPDX LLC (1-888-947-3955)
4. Clean Slate?
Almost exactly five years ago, I wrote about
Tom Hoar and Precision Translation Tools for the
first time. At the time he had just launched his first Moses-based
machine translation product, called DoMY. It was a prepackaged Linux-based
command-line tool that allowed you to build your own machine translation
engine. Two years later he released the engine with a graphical user
interface (but still on Linux), and another two years down the road,
in 2014, his company released the program as a server-based application
with connectors to tools like the TEnT OmegaT or Welocalize's
translation management system GlobalSight.
Since all this was still happening
exclusively on Linux, it was accessible only to folks who liked to
work in that environment or who felt adventurous enough to invest in a Linux
computer and the necessary learning curve that comes along with any new
The numbers proved this was not the most
attractive offer to the translation community. According to Tom, maybe 300
individual translators use the system, many of whom are using the free
Long story short, Tom hired a new engineer
and ported his machine translation program to the Windows environment
to make his program more palatable to you and me (or, as many very
aggravatingly would say, "you and I"). This is available now, but
only in the form of a command-line tool (meaning that you essentially have
to control the tool by typing commands into Windows' Command
Prompt application -- not the way we like it with clicking on buttons,
etc.), with no connectors to existing translation environment tools (so you
have to convert and pretranslate your texts in the form of a TMX file and
then use that in Trados, memoQ, Wordfast, or
To find funding for this, Tom and his
(small) team started a crowdfunding campaign that they just now successfully finished (though you
can still sign up and claim one of the tools that is slated for release
with a 40% discount). The new tool is called Slate Desktop and will
have a fully functional graphical user interface and connectors to some
translation environment tools (though I'm not sure which will be operable
on the January release date).
So what to think about this tool? I think
Tom is doing us a favor by trying to communicate statistical machine
translation in very down-to-earth terms (sometimes even a little too
down-to-earth for my taste) and giving us (as a community) the notion of
accessibility. I also think that his tool will work well for some
translators who work almost exclusively for one client, or at least within
one relatively narrow area of specialization. I could imagine that the
productivity increase of 25-30% that Tom claims could easily be realized by
some of those.
Others will have a hard time finding the
required amount of their own data that they need to feed to the tool. Most
of us have an estimated minimum of 130,000 translation units in our TMs,
and many of us have much, much more, but is it all within one narrow area
of specialization? You see, if I'm working in "heavy machinery"
translation, for example, it's typically not good enough to mix data from
different clients or different applications of the machinery, let alone
data from completely different fields.
I know there are colleagues who work in very
narrow domains and mostly for one client, and I think for them this tool
might be a real productivity boost, but I'm not sure how much that's true
for others. In its promotional materials, Tom talks a lot about the style
of the individual translator, claiming that the tool will learn my unique
style. But I have to say that I change my "style" all the time as
I translate. I might have a certain style as I write this newsletter, but
when I translate I try to respect the style of the original. Am I still
going to add my own imprint to every translation I do? Sure I am. But I suspect
that's not distinctive enough across all projects and clients to train an
MT engine adequately.
I will continue to watch Slate's
developments, and I will be very ready to change my mind about a
wider-than-expected application if I find out I'm wrong.
Across v6.3: Translators Have Made Their Choice
The new Across
version for translators will be available in late November. Many
optimizations are based on suggestions from the Translators' Advisory
Board. In the future, translators will be able to integrate their own
TMs and terminology lists. Additional file formats, such as PDF and JSON,
will also be supported. The new version will facilitate increased customer
proximity and enable the translator to highlight his skills.
information will be available at www.my-across.net from November 23.
5. This 'n' That
I've been a grump recently when it comes to
conferences. Yes, I'm at the ATA right now, and, yes, I will enjoy it
(grumble, grumble), but my frequent flyer status next year will most likely
go down by a category since I haven't been at very many conferences this
So it comes from the bottom of my heart when
I say that I can't wait for the Nordic Translation
Industry Forum, November 19 and 20 in Reykjavik. When I booked
my flights a week or so ago, they were shockingly cheap. And can you think
of a better place to be in November than in Iceland? While actually
learning in high-powered sessions and making new friends in the process?
Mats Linder just sent me the latest version
of his Trados manual, which now covers everything up to version 2015
with the current Service Pack 1. It's a mighty 500-page tome at this point,
and you can find it right here.
Another new publication is the Out of Office newsletter that deals with everything regarding MS Office
that could ever come in the way of someone "professionally working
with text." It's published in four languages (EN, DE, FR, ES) and is
written and translated by distinguished colleagues. You can download the first
edition (000) for free on the website and subscribe to the paid edition for
The Last Word on the Tool Box Journal
If you would like to promote this journal by
placing a link on your website, I will in turn mention your website in a
future edition of the Tool Box Journal. Just paste the code you find here into
the HTML code of your webpage, and the little icon that is displayed on
that page with a link to my website will be displayed.
If you are subscribed to this journal with more than one email address, it would be great if
you could unsubscribe redundant addresses through the links Constant
Contact offers below.
Here is a website that listed the Tool Box
Journal last month:
Should you be interested in reprinting
one of the articles in this journal for promotional
purposes, please contact me for information about pricing.
© 2015 International Writers'