said this many times before, but let me say it one more time (and, I
promise, with a completely straight face): I am not technical. Not the
best person to write the Tool
Box Journal? Maybe not -- but
then again, maybe I'm exactly the right person.
just because I don't get completely "geeked out" about the awesomeness
of technology does not make me miss the relevance (both positive and
negative) it can have as a tool for my work as a translator. It amuses
me to read the writings of real language tech geeks who can't sing high
enough praises of any given technology -- until the next step in that
technology's development is reached, at which point the narrative
radically changes ("We always knew there were many shortcomings in the
old technology, but now..."). I imagine many of you noticed that change
in the enthusiasts' narrative in regard to statistical (and, of course,
rules-based) machine translation when neural machine translation became
interview with Moravia's Viju Hedge,
she asked me whether there
is still space for a translator who's not inclined to learn about the
whole range of tools available. And the answer is: yes, of course.
While technical translators with virtually no access to translation
technology are getting rarer and rarer (though, yes, there are some of
those as well, and in some exceptional cases they're even doing well),
the typical technical translator uses some set of technology. And most
of us use it well (though, as Kilgray's Łukasz Rejter points out in the
"nowadays even hard liner, technology-minded power users will not be
able to keep up with all the services and features of more advanced
tools"). But can that same typical translator learn about all the tools
available? Absolutely not if that means actually knowing how to use
them. On the other hand, if it means simply knowing such tools exist
and being capable of learning to use them if they have to be used for a
certain job, by all means, yes. It's at that point you'll have to be
able to find them by either intelligently Googling for them or checking
out the index of your Translator's
Tool Box ebook ;-).
really, the same is true for advanced processes within tools you're
familiar with (and this goes back to Łukasz's quote). If you already
know how to create filters for complicated XML files or write regular
expressions for complex processes with a translation environment tool,
all power to you. Nothing to be ashamed of. But there is just as little
to be ashamed of if you can't. What you will
have to be able to
do in that case is not throw up your hands in disgust and frustration;
instead, ask the right kinds of questions so you'll find the answers.
This is one of the areas that separates a successful technical
translator from one who continues to be a burden for project managers
or who never quite finds the most interesting jobs.
22, 1988 - April 22, 2018
30 years of experience in translating technical documentation German -
Getting Fancy With the Basics
are a couple of shortcuts for Microsoft
Word and Excel.
While most of your actual translation work is unlikely to happen in
those interfaces, many of you will still appreciate this:
translators, we often have to open text files in Excel
many glossaries are in some kind of text-based format (such as CSV
files). It typically works really well: You open the file from within Excel,
starts a wizard that lets you tell Excel
to segment the text (i.e., how to put the different fields into
columns). Well, Excel
is actually smarter than you may think,
and in most cases it knows how to deal with the file in question. So
rather than going through the three- or four-step wizard, you can also
to open the file as it sees fit by selecting File>
Open, locating the file that
needs to be imported, and pressing the Shift
while you click Open.
This way Excel
simply uses its
best judgment to open the file correctly without the wizard.
how about this:
imagine that you do indeed have one of those glossaries in a
tab-delimited text format (or in proper Excel
format for that
matter), but they have only source and target information. Fortunately,
you are well-trained and you know that you need to enter some
additional data to that table -- such as subject matter, client, or
whether the data is approved or not -- before importing it into your
terminology database. So rather than going through some convoluted
process of entering and multiplying the data in the third, fourth, and
fifth columns, you can simply enter the record of interest in the first
cell of the respective column, select that cell and all the other cells
you want with that data, select Fill
on the Home
tab, and there you are. (Alternatively you can also highlight the cell
with the entered data, point your cursor to its lower right-hand
corner, and then drag this to the area you want the identical text in.)
If you would like to do the same with a running number, enter the first
number in the first cell and then select Fill>
dragging here works also, and if you don't want a running number but
the same number in all the cells, enter the number in two cells,
highlight them both, and have that copied to whichever area you drag it
are a number of other things you can do with the Fill
but I stumbled on one just the other day that is really quite clever: Flash
was introduced in Excel 2013,
and it can either be manually
activated as one of the options in the Fill
menu (see above) or
with the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+E,
but it is likely more helpful if it's activated automatically (under File>
Editing options> Automatically
will recognize a pattern once you enter two or more values and then
suggest that it automatically fill the remaining column for you. For
instance, if you have <Given
column A and <Family
in column B, and you enter <Family
Name, Given Name>
in the first two cells in column C, it will suggest that pattern to you
for the rest of the C column.
the following example of a list of honorary ATA members. The Excel
preview not only applies the new writing order, it also makes the names
to the first two entries.
accept the preview suggestion, just press Enter
(and as this shows you
there might be some small errors as in the spelling of "O'keefe" but
those are easy fixes). This also works with dates, phone numbers, and a
host of other things.
are some cool tips I used to know about Word
completely forgot until recently:
Find and Replace
obviously offers much
more than just the normal search and replace for text snippets. For
instance, here are two ways you can find graphics or replace something
with graphics. To find graphics, enter ^g
into the Find what
box (or you can select More>
Special> Graphic). This
is helpful if you need to remove
graphics from a document that has become too large, or if you want to
find tiny, hidden graphics that prevent your document from being
already knew that. But how about this:
you want to replace something with a specific graphic, enter the text
you want to replace (or whatever else needs to be replaced) in the Find
what field, copy the graphic you
want to insert onto your clipboard
(just highlight it and press Ctrl+C),
and then enter ^c
into the Replace with
field (or you can select More>
how's this for making Find processes easier: It's annoying to have the Find
dialog or the Navigation
pane stay open forever and ever when
you want to search for a repeating piece of information in your
document. So try this: Use Ctrl+F
the first time as you would
normally, then close the dialog box or the Navigation
from then on just keep on pressing Shift+F4.
Word will keep on
searching without anything blocking your view.
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Software Tools for Translators (by Riccardo Schiaffino)
is an infographic that was developed by EN> IT translator Riccardo
Schiaffino who is using this for
a course on translation tools he's
going to teach at Denver University. Riccardo generously allowed me to
share his helpful graphic with you. (You can click on the graphic for a
is just around the corner. Time to become organized.
offer for Tool Box Journal readers from Advanced International
copies of each product available at 55% off.
on translation not administration. Get your copy now.
mentioned my latest book "Translation Matters," but recently I realized
the best way to talk about it might be to share its introduction. Here
I've loved the word and the concept since a friend from New York
visited my family during our one-year hiatus in Berlin and described
the city as a palimpsest with layer upon layer of history. Ever since
I've looked at Berlin differently, and I've also followed stories that
deal with "true" palimpsests, pieces of parchments where one or several
layers of inscription were scraped away to make room for new writing.
With modern techniques, the earlier layers can often be uncovered to
provide fascinating insights, as discussed in this
love this concept of re-finding texts that earlier generations deemed
irrelevant but later generations find more important. This brings up
something that -- ironically -- we also struggle with today. As
translators and writers we create a plethora of content, but the
lifespan can be of such short duration. And while it's true that not
everything we produce has to be preserved, it's typically not our
decision how long it will be available and whether there is any kind of
expiration date associated with it.
I worked on my PhD thesis on the history of Chinese Bible translation
25 years ago, I spent a lot of time in dusty archives, re-reading
letters that were written 150 and 200 years ago, and I knew that my
eyes were often only the second set to ever read that letter after its
original reading. Those letters were rarely deemed important or
publishable -- but fortunately they were archived. I remember gasping
in horror in a large archive in Cambridge when I was told that the
correspondence of the timespan I was interested in had originally been
archived, but later in a time of shortage had been re-purposed as
meat-packing paper by a local butcher.
afraid we're in the midst of those times again, caused not by a
palpable need for paper to wrap meat in, but by carelessness and, even
worse, disregard. Once a year or so I spend a couple of hours to update
my list of publications, and most of the time is spent finding out that
links to articles have simply disappeared along with their content.
Some of it can be chased down with archival internet tools, but much
has turned to vapor -- if even that.
might point out that in this age of self-published books, blogs, and
social media posts, the easy-go is just the trade-off for the
easy-come. And while there is some truth to that, it's just as true
that we need to be more gentle and appreciative of and with each other
as we honor the products we work hard to bring forth. (Their quality is
an entirely different matter, of course.)
in that spirit that this volume has been assembled. Whether the
articles, thoughts, and snippets on the following pages are good enough
for yet another gasp of public air is not for me to judge, though I was
the one who rescued them from oblivion. Why?
there are exactly as many essays as there are chapters in the Chinese
Daoist classic Daodejing
-- 81 -- in honor of my teacher to whom
this book is dedicated, whose much-talked-of goal was to publish a book
with just as many poems.
while much of the content deals with technology in some way or other,
for the most part I chose articles that don't deal with specific
features of specific tools, which likely would no longer reflect the
current situation and would therefore be worthless.
however, I simply chose essays that made me smile when I wrote them or
that may hold some relevance beyond just myself and the specific point
in time when it originated.
majority of content deals with several overarching themes that have
crystallized from my writings over the years. These prevailing themes
deal less with translation technology per se and more with how
translation technology empowers translators, with the effect it has on
our self-perception, and with how technology is possibly the most
important area in which we can determine and steer our immediate and
handful of articles also deal with translation from an entirely
different perspective, Bible translation, which was the focus of my
academic work of long ago and a theme that I've revived again recently
in a non-academic manner. I think it's a fitting inclusion considering
the enormous impact religious translation, and in particular Bible
translation, has had on the development of our profession (not least
symbolized by St. Jerome, the 4th-century
and patron saint of translators).
of what you'll find in this book is personal, much to the annoyance of
my children and the long-suffering chagrin of my wife (and editor),
without whom there would be no writing to be published or re-published.
(I wrote elsewhere that without her I would have no voice, which is
true in more than one way.) I can't help but express myself personally,
for that's the only framework from which I can grasp anything of
you live in the US and would like a signed copy, I would be very happy
to send you one for the same price as the print book at Amazon
($14.95 -- you can send a payment to firstname.lastname@example.org
PayPal or contact me directly). If you don't live in the US, postage is
just a little bit too expensive, but you can of course purchase
the book directly at Amazon or
as a PDF on
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This 'n' That
prove my introductory claim that I'm not technical, here is a very
recent discovery I made (it only took me several years to figure it
out). I use the Windows 10
apps very, very rarely. Each time I
did, I was always confused about the language of the user interface. My
installation is in English, but the apps
were in German. Now I have nothing against German -- that's the
language I translate into for a living -- but it "just did not seem
right!" (Get it? German...) Here is where this setting can be changed
for any variety of reasons (including the fact that you might want
to have apps show a different
user interface language than the rest
Under PC Settings
(to open, press WinKey+I)
& Language and Region
& Language and then make
language of your choice the "display language" under Languages.
(Red-faced Tool Box Journal
writer steps off the stage....)
week I stumbled on an article from 2002 by Alan Melby that deals with
the need to have technology taught in college courses for translators.
Here is an excerpt:
should [the] requirement [of computer technology] be imposed on the new
generation of translation students? Translators have gotten along just
fine for thousands of years without technology. What changed in the
final decades of the twentieth century? Gradually but steadily,
translators were required to acquire certain kinds of technology and be
skilled in using technology in order to get work. First came word
processing. The old mode of using a typewriter or hiring a secretary to
take dictation gradually gave way to translators using word processing
as opposed to a typewriter or dictation secretary. Informal surveys
taken at the annual meeting of the American Translators Association
from 1983 through 1989 revealed that the percentage of translators
using word processing generally followed the year times ten. That is,
in 1983, a little less than 30% of the translators at the conference
used word processing. In 1984, it had risen to about 40%. By 1988 it
was up to about 80%, and by 1989 it was hard to find a working
translator not using word processing and fax. The 1990s have seen a
gradual transition to increased used of specialized translation tools
in the form of Windows software and a rapid shift to e-mail and
that seem to stem from a whole different epoch for you? It sure does
Savourel has written a really
excellent article about the many
translation tools of the Okapi
Framework. Yves's introduction
to the article provides a very good
idea for why this is going to be a good read:
Okapi Framework is a free open-source and cross-platform project
offering a variety of tools that can be quite helpful for translators.
However, there's a caveat. The project was developed initially as a
tool set for localization engineers, not translators, which can make
things a bit more difficult.
its core, the framework is a set of components that are meant to be put
together to create processes for doing various translation-related
tasks. Think of Okapi as a Lego set with which developers or
technical-minded users can build very powerful utilities. But this
isn't very practical for most translators, since they would rather have
something more concrete with which to work.
among the different things Okapi offers, there are a few high-level
applications ready to use "out-of-the-box" that anyone can take
advantage of without any programming skills.
highly recommend that you read the rest of this article, especially if
you don't know what the Okapi tools are about. And next time you see
Yves personally or digitally, be sure to thank him for his work on the
article and on these free tools.
and Alejandro Moreno-Ramos published
the third installment of the
adventures of Mox, the translator. I'm
relatively certain there's virtually no translator around who isn't
familiar with Mox and his friends who tartly and pithily allow us to
view ourselves in a sometimes shockingly truthful manner.
week's cartoon strip in the
your business to the next level!
into 20 years of experience in the language industry -- Udo
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