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Nov 7, 2011

Pseudotranslation with memoQ

At the end of last week, Kilgray released Build 53 of memoQ version 5 with a number of interesting new features. One of these is "pseudotranslation".

I grew rather fond of this feature in the localization tool Passolo years ago, when I used it to identify software strings that developers had hard-coded instead of organizing in translatable resources as they were obliged to do. In fact, this is the application Kilgray mentions on the corresponding Help page. I also see it as a useful support for "round trip testing" of translation workflows.

Too often, translators and project managers experience difficulties exporting translated content to some original file formats. This was often a problem with Trados TTX files created and translated with different builds or versions of Trados, for example. So to avoid nasty surprises shortly before delivery after a long project, it is always a good idea to make sure that "what comes in" (such as an InDesign format of some kind) will go "out" again cleanly. Usually this is done by copying the source text to the target text and changing a few words or lines. This preserves complex tag structures, which may affect the stability of a target file, for example.

Pseudotranslation is an improvement over source to target copying, because, among other reasons, it makes the test file more clearly identifiable as such. And in cases such as the software translation scenarios, it offers additional insights into potential problems.

To use the pseudotranslation feature in Build 53 of memoQ 5 or later, do the following:

1. Under Tools > Options, select the Machine translation category:
 


2. Click the Options button and configure the settings as appropriate:



3. Choose Operations > Pretranslate... and make sure that the checkbox labeled "Use machine translation" is marked.



The result will be gobbledygook which preserves relevant tag structures:




Nov 6, 2011

Transcribing with Dragon

One idea that fascinated me with Dragon Naturally Speaking is the potential for using the software to transcribe dictated messages on recording devices. I have often been interested in possibilities for translation away from the computer. In fact, the possibility of translating my by dictation is one that has a long history and which is of great personal interest to me, because I think that it may be possible to achieve a very different flow and quality from that which is typically achieved when writing on a computer. So, while visiting a friend, I purchased an inexpensive Olympus recording device for about €50, then I trained DNS to use it and began my experiment. 
The text above is my first attempt at transcribing from a small, portable recording device to Dragon Naturally Speaking. One small correction (marked). My expectations were not high when I decided to try this. The microphone in my headset is of rather modest quality, and the errors, as noted in my last post, can be devilish. But the recording device gave excellent results. A few other texts I have tested look equally good. So it seems my dream of dictating translation drafts off original printed texts or originals migrated to my Kindle may become true soon. In combination with memoQ LiveDocs, I see some very interesting potential translation and revision workflows. Stay tuned.

Nov 2, 2011

Enter the Dragon

For a number of years now, various colleagues of mine have sung the praises of Nuance's Dragon Naturally Speaking, making productivity claims that I occasionally suspected had their basis in illegal substance abuse. The work results I saw on one project a few years ago convinced me that the fellow had in fact been stoned.

I used the software briefly seven years ago during a rather unpleasant bout of RSI while I was traveling abroad and some of the keys on my laptop's keyboard began to fail, but Windows XP Service Pack 2 soon rendered the application unusable, and my memories of it weren't so great that I was inspired to have another look any time soon.

And so it remained until I had occasion to visit another colleague and see a "mixed mode" way of working with The Beast on complex legal texts. That got my attention. Particularly the quality of the results and an output well beyond my usual capacity. So I had another look.

First of all, one must be aware that DNS is dangerous. Even with good training and a high-quality microphone, it produces a number of errors, some bizarre, some very subtle, which may require a significant change in one's review workflow. For someone like me who is a miserable proofreader, this can be quite a challenge. Reading texts at top speed aloud doing a Donald Duck imitation seems to help. But for God's sake, don't rely on a casual silent read and a spellchecker.

I discovered that overall, my working speed, even with the considerable increase in review effort, improved significantly. It is faster to read terminology from my TEnT hit list than it is to insert it with a keyboard shortcut, and I think that looking at the source text on the screen more and thinking about it as I dictate at a slow, relaxed pace gives me a better, more natural text faster. The improvement in output isn't a matter of "typing speed" so much but rather that I spend more time reading the text. I am a hunt and peck typist, albeit a rather fast one, and I can keep pace with the fastest touch typists I have seen when I am working on a translation. The real bottleneck has never been typing time but rather thinking time, and I do not have the impression that a touch typist does any more thinking or does it faster.

When I shared my findings with a Dutch friend, an agency owner with nearly 30 years of experience as a translator, he told me about how the colleagues he knew long ago had mocked him for using the first generation of word processors, because they could dictate so much faster. However, back then a great deal of time was lost sending tapes to a typist and revising, and he could often deliver faster, though his personal time investment was perhaps greater. Now, he said, it seems that technology and tradition can be combined to produce the best result.

And now, just for laughs, the raw results of dictating the text above with a medium-quality microphone and an ignorance of various useful commands for quotation marks, etc.:

For a number of years now, various colleagues have sung the praises of nuances Dragon naturally speaking, making productivity claims I occasionally suspected had their basis in your legal substance abuse. The work results I saw on one project a few years ago convinced me at hello had in fact been stoned.
I used the software briefly seven years ago during a rather unpleasant out of RSI while I was traveling abroad and some of the keys on my laptop's keyboard began to fail, but windows XP service pack two soon rendered the application unusable, and my memories of it weren't so great that I was inspired to have another look anytime soon.
And so it remained until I had occasion to visit another call to and see a mixed mode way of working with the beast on complex legal texts. That got my attention. Particularly the quality of the results and an output well beyond my usual capacity. So I had another look.
First of all, one must be aware that DNS is dangerous. Even with good training and a high-quality microphone, it produces a number of errors, some bizarre, some very subtle, which may require a significant change in one's review work. For someone like me who is a miserable proofreader, this can be quite a challenge. Reading texts at top speed allowed doing a Donald Duck imitation seems to help. But for gods sake, don't rely on a casual site and read and spell check.
I discovered that overall, my working speed, even with the considerable increase in review effort, improved significantly. It is faster to read terminology from my tent yet list than it is to insert it with a keyboard shortcut, and I think that looking at the source text on the screen more and thinking about it as I dictate at a slow, relaxed pace gives me a better, more natural text faster. The improvement in output isn't a matter of typing speed so much but Robert that I spend more time reading the text. I am a hunt and peck typist, albeit a rather fast one, and I can keep pace with the fastest touch typist I have seen when I am working on a translation. The real bottleneck has never been typing time but rather thinking time, and I do not have the impression that a touch typist does anymore thinking or does it faster.
When I shared my findings with a Dutch friend, an agency owner with nearly 30 years of experience as a translator, he told me about how the colleagues he knew long ago had mocked him for using the first generation wordprocessed, because they could dictate so much faster. However, back then a great deal of time was lost sending tapes to a typist and revising, and he could often deliver faster, though his personal time investment was perhaps greater. Now, he said, it seems that technology and tradition can be combined to produce the best result.