Over 40% of respondents use more than one translation environment routinely. (Astute readers may note that the percentages don't add up. Google's programmers are obviously fond of new math or at least screwy rounding and truncation.) This would include people who actually translate in multiple environments as well as those who use environments other than their favored one for project preparation and QA. My fiancé is a good example of this latter category; she uses "classic" Trados all the time to export TMs and terminologies provided to her, pre-segment Word/RTF and TTX files for translation in Déjà Vu X or memoQ and perform tag QA on TTX files. Probably a few other things too. But after she learned the benefits of more modern translation environments, I would risk singing soprano if I suggest that she actually take up translating with the Trados Workbench macros or TagEditor again. Maybe I can get her to look at SDL Trados Studio 2009 one day, but first I think I'll take up something safer like mud wrestling with crocodiles.
The 8 to 12% of respondents who indicated that they use no translation tools is probably well under the true figure in our profession. My blog tends to attract readers with an interest in the technology of translation and not so many who like to contemplate flowery phrases for translating obscure poetry (too bad, really - that's more my taste, but first bills must be paid). But since one of my intentions in creating these polls was to get an idea of the technology interests of my readers and perhaps choose some future topics to reflect these interests, I'm not really concerned about an accurate representation of the full population of translators. The profession is simply too diverse and fragmented for me to care. It's interesting to see that I belong to the 1% of nutcases that use 5 or more tools - I can hear I told you so on this one already from many quarters. And I like to think I'm not a nerd. Einbildung ist auch 'ne Bildung.
In the poll on specific tools, I received some criticism for not including certain tools under a category more specific that "other". As you can see, with a grand total of 15% other, I'm probably not missing much there. When I see interesting minor tools I'll certainly mention them if I can do so with some knowledge, but I don't have the time to offer the extensive expert surveys that you'll get from a guy like Jost Zetzsche and his Toolkit newsletter or book on computer skills and tools for translators.
I probably also should have split the Trados part of the question into at least the new and old generation of SDL products, but I simply didn't think of this until a few days after the poll was running, and I decided to deal with that issue in a follow-up question another day (and I have - see the poll in the left sidebar, which will run until August 1st). This is also relevant to me, as I'll be exploring the no-longer-so-new Studio 2009 version more in the future. (Why call it 2009 still when you release the service pack that actually makes it work in 2010?) It may run like a lame pig on many machines, but I do like some of the interface elements a lot, and it's the best program on netbooks I've used as far as critical parts of screens and dialogs not usually getting cut off.
If the poll statistics even roughly approximate the real distribution of tools among commercial translators, then the perception that "everyone" uses Trados is certainly not even close to correct. The greatest share of licenses is certainly for some version of Trados, but if one considers the number of people who use it as I do primarily for some of its filters and to prepare projects for clients who ask for Trados uncleaned deliverables, then the percentage actually translating with Trados will be far under 50%. This is a point well worth considering for those who want to use the most qualified translator for a given subject: statistically, the odds are against you if you insist on Trados use. It's far better to design projects in a tool-neutral manner as far as practical and let the translators work with whatever they feel most comfortable with. The importance of using the best qualified translator for a particular subject rather than the first monkey with a particular tool in his box is one of the reasons why I like Déjà Vu X and memoQ so much: the RTF table exports from these two tools allows projects to be translated or edited by anyone with a modern word processor regardless of the source format. Every translation environment tool should follow the example set by Atril and Kilgray in this respect.
It's also interesting to note that "major" tools like Star Transit and Across only have 6% of respondents claiming use. Anyone who tries to insist on a translator using those tools is playing a very bad hand.
The main conclusion I draw from these data is that give the diversity of tool use among qualified translators, it is more important than ever to design and test our processes for true interoperability and to drop the religious insistence on the use of One True Tool, no matter what that tool may be.
But that's just my initial reaction to the data. What do you think?
Query management is not so difficult
5 hours ago