Jun 28, 2012

OTM: starting and completing projects from e-mail

There are a number of instructional videos put together by which show the broad range of features in the Online Project Manager (OTM). These are great if you want an overview of the environment's many features from the perspectives of a project manager, end client and service provider (such as a translator), but with all the possibilities presented, it's easy to get overwhelmed, and the basic simplicity of a typical project can be overlooked. I made the video tutorial below to show the workflow I usually go through for simple projects.

An e-mail arrives from a customer with an attached file to translate and a request for a delivery date. I produce a quotation, send it, wait for the order (or not if it's already given in the initial e-mail), then translate and deliver the job, invoice it and close the project. When I'm not making a video of the steps, they typically take me less than five minutes, but here you can see it all in "slow motion". More details on this process are found in my other posts on this blog about OTM.


This tutorial was recorded with the Google Chrome browser and the Open Source recording tool CamStudio. Try it in full-screen mode using the icon at the lower right of the playing window.

Jun 27, 2012

OTM integration for SDL & more ahead

Some months ago, I dropped into the offices at for a chat and was surprised by a white board covered with interesting scribbles that hinted at the most fundamental change of design yet for the translation workflow management tool OTM. In the two and a half years I have used the platform, I have seen many positive developments, which have scratched off nearly everything on my initial wish list (with other plans that may take care of the few remaining items of streamlining for freelancers by sometime late this year or early next year), but I really didn't expect to see significant integration with translation environment tools except perhaps a bit of analysis log reading for quotation purposes.

I was wrong. A few days ago, the official announcement of the integration plans for OTM and SDL Trados Studio hit my inbox, and discussions with the system's architect have made it clear that there's more ahead, though schedules are a bit vague at present. It's not clear from the post on the blog, but the both the server and desktop (freelance) versions of SDL Trados will be integrated with the new middleware component, though there will be some differences in function.

I'm not a huge Trados fan as much as I respect some of the developments in recent years, but I'm excited by hints that the online workflow tool may make it easier to use SDL Trados to generate project file collections not only for translators using Trados but for those with other tools as well. If this really happens, I think it will be a great boost for interoperability and reduce the perceived "bother" of working with translators who use tools with which the project manager may not be competent.

Another thing that I like about the development plans for CAT integration with OTM is that the middleware component is actually vendor-neutral. This means that it can facilitate integration at the server and desktop level with more than just SDL Trados in the future. Where this may lead is unclear right now, but I think that the changes announced for memoQ version 6 for Microsoft Office file handling in the server API make that an obvious candidate, though the lack of a client API for memoQ still means that there is more potential benefit to Trados users.

Although I'm quite encouraged by this new direction for my workflow tool, I probably won't use these functions myself, mostly because Trados is not my tool of choice for translation, though it is an important part of some of my preparation, data migration and terminology output workflows. OTM has an enormous range of features - it's designed to run a medium-sized or larger translation agency with widespread global interests - and some of the presentations of this enormous range of functions can be quite intimidating. But like other tools I use that have many function - Microsoft Word and memoQ, for instance - I need only a small fraction of those functions for my routine work, and the underlying simplicity of the environment enables me to use the parts I need with great efficiency and security for my clients. And on those rare occasions when I need to work as more than just the Lone Translator, I can draw on whatever I need.

The pace of development for OTM has slowed since I first became involved with it as the issues identified in the pilot phase were solved, often in some surprisingly useful and original ways. But the SaaS solution continues to grow in very practical ways, such as improved security, and its development is still driven by the same basic needs that led to its creation in the first place - the needs of its users to "punch above their weight" profitably in competitive project management.

21 lucky translators can't pass this one up, surely?

From: Ricky Ricardo
To: (a list of 21 lucky sworn translators in the Berlin area)
Subject: Translation order for ENG - Ricky Ricardo


I would like to order certified translations from German to English from you for the documents in the attachment for purposes of submission to a bank in Spain.

Please consider the following information in calculating your fee:

- 3a_RicardoR_PaySlipsMarMay2012: Translation of the two pay records
- 3TC_RicardoR_TaxCard_CinterionWM
- 4_RICARDO PERON, RICARDO - Income Tax Declaration2011: Total cost and per page
- 4_RICARDO PERON, RICARDO - Income Tax Statement 2011:
Total cost and per page (1,2 and 4)
- 4TC_
- 5_
RicardoR_CreditBureauSCHUFA_Certification_201206: Total cost and per page (1,3 and 4)

Can you accept this job? If so, how much would it cost? Please include an overview of the corresponding amounts for each individual document.

Please indicate the time for processing and possibly suggestions as to whether it is possible to translate only the relevant lines or pages with information (particularly for the documents where "total cost and per page" is indicated). How would the amount be re-calculated in this case?

If you have separate questions regarding this assignment, please feel free to send me your questions. I look forward to your answer; thanks in advance!

Best regards,

Ricky Ricardo

Dear Ricky,

Thank you for taking the time to research the names and e-mail addresses of so many qualified colleagues from the online translators' directory of the German translators' association BDÜ. Some of that effort might have been better invested in considering whether a mass mailing of this sort will really produce the desired result of detailed costing based on unclear instructions.
Fortunately, there are some service providers eminently qualified to provide you with the service you deserve. The Eurozone Translations Group ( has all the right stuff to stuff that translation where it needs to go.

Best regards,

Kevin Lossner

Jun 25, 2012

memoQuickie: custom dictionaries (ignore lists)

memoQ 5 cannot add words to external dictionaries, such as those in Microsoft Word or Hunspell. But words to be skipped by the external spelling checker used in memoQ can be added to ignore lists, which are consulted before Hunspell or MS Word dictionaries. Words to ignore might include company names, product names, geographic terms or any other terms (such as special subject vocabulary) not in the external dictionary. These “ignore” lists might better be called custom dictionaries.
memoQ consults its ignore lists before checking a word in the external dictionary.
Ignore lists can be accessed via Tools > Resource console… > Ignore lists

or Tools > Options… > Ignore lists

Activate or deactivate lists in a current project via Translation > Spelling… > Ignore lists

Checkmarked lists are active in new projects. Clicking Add during a spelling check puts words in the list specified on the Ignore lists tab.

Where to go for memoQ help and information

memoQ users have a variety of resources to rely on for help and information for learning and troubleshooting. These include:

Kilgray resources
Support department –
User guides -
Training videos -
Regularly scheduled live webinars -
Recorded webinars -
Trainers list - 

Third-party resources
Translators Training basics video -
memoQ Yahoo! group (English) -
memoQ Yahoo! group (German) -
Marek Pawelec’s blog (English & Polish) -
Translation Tribulations blog -
WikiBooks - 

There are also assistance forums on commercial portals and professional association sites. The value of some of these is severely limited by policies affecting user privileges, access and expression.

If there are other worthwhile resources in any language that I've missed, please feel free to add them in the comments.

Jun 22, 2012

Sell like a refugee!

I'm a refugee I suppose: one who fled from the clueless, tone-deaf stupidity of PowerLing as they undermined the marketing efforts of my favorite translation tools company, Atril. I think it's fair to say that a great number of the features which translators appreciate most in the modern generation of translation tools were pioneered in Atril's Déjà Vu, and the creative genius of product development there hasn't dimmed one bit as far as I can see, though the slow pace of implementation did drive me nuts at times for years.

When the sad announcement came that Atril had been taken over by its incompetent marketing partner, I thought that there might be difficult times ahead for the product. I never could have guessed how utterly embarrassing those times could be. Then last year I had the displeasure of sitting through a presentation by a rep of the New French Atril, who made me want to crawl under my chair as I watched some silly green dragon in a childish tale which I suppose was intended to teach us about the evils of SDL and possibly other competitors. Hard to tell what it was about, as it was all rather incomprehensible.

Perhaps incomprehensible is the word I should use to express some of what I think about the recent promotion for World Refugee Day. Or perhaps appalling. A shame, really, that the friend who dined so well on a dead horse by the roadside as she fled from the Russian Army and became a refugee is too far gone with Alzheimer's to take advantage of that great offer. Perhaps an ongoing discount could be offered to all those driven from their native lands who now churn words between languages to earn their bread? I wonder if we'll have another sales promotion to celebrate Եղեռնի զոհերի հիշատակի օր or perhaps the atomic bombing of Japan? Why not if it'll call the world's attention to a great product? Surely the marketing geniuses in Paris can find a way to piggyback on human trafficking for proZtitution and so many other evils that plague today's world. Go for it.

memoQuickie: customizing project, file and view lists

Many are not aware of this, but three of the important working lists in memoQ - the project list on the Dashboard and the Documents and Views lists on a project's Translation page - are customizable.

Right-clicking the header bar of the list opens a context menu where columns to be displayed are selected:

Project list context menu on the memoQ Dashboard
Documents list context menu in a project
Views list context menu in a project

Customizing the column display is particularly helpful in the Documents list when using memoQ versioning. If Document Version is marked in the columns choices, the major and minor version will be shown for each document. (The major or source version is the number before the decimal, the minor version - the target version for that source version - the number after it.) If versioning is not active for a document, the column displays "n/a".

Jun 16, 2012

memoQuickie: footnote, cross-reference & index entry segmentation in Microsoft Word files

If you have a Microsoft Word DOC file or RTF to translate, it is important to be aware of the different behaviors of the memoQ import filter options you can use. If there are footnotes, cross-references or index entries, it is far better to use the option to import the DOC or RTF file as DOCX.

The DOC file shown below has a footnote, a cross-reference and an index entry:

Adding it to a memoQ project with the default filter for Microsoft Word in memoQ 5

gives the following segmentation result:

Importing the same document with the DOCX option of the filter

yields much cleaner segmentation and better tags to work with:

Compare what some other programs do with this file:

WordFast Pro

TagEditor salad (partial)

SDL Trados Studio 2009 segmentation

SDL Trados Studio 2011

There is room for improvement with most tools.

memoQuickie: comparing target text versions

One way to compare versions of a translation in memoQ (for example, after editing) is to use the source text version comparison features. This is a workaround which I hope will be implemented as a feature some day.

With versioning activated in your project (Project home > Settings > Document versioning), import the target texts as if they were source texts, using Reimport > No (and a search for the other file version) to create a version history. Then select History/Reports... from the context menu of the file in the Project home > Translations list.

Select the "major versions" of interest and export a two-column view of the changes.

This view will be an HTML file.

The columnar comparison of the two versions shows differences highlighted and some statistics on them.

Alternatively, document comparison features in Microsoft Word can be used, but this method applies to all file types.

memoQuickie: spelling ABCs

Settings to check spelling are configured under Tools > Options... > Spell settings

Although Microsoft Word spellchecking is possible, it is more limited than in Word itself (doubled words are not found, for example); the Check spelling as you type option for Hunspell offers advantages for catching mistakes, though words not in the dictionary will give false positives:

memoQ can download and/or automatically install Hunspell dictionaries using the commands under the dictionary list.

Spelling checks are started via Translation > Spelling... or pressing F7.

Dictionary choices can be adjusted on the Options tab. The Ignore lists tab has lists of words which can be ignored while checking spelling. These resources can be saved and shared.

It is always a good idea to check spelling and/or grammar after translation using an external program. If the original format is not a word processing file, bilingual exports (RTF or DOC) can be used.

Jun 14, 2012

memoQuickie: editing source text in memoQ

In most translation environment tools, the source text is protected against modification. This is usually a good thing, as it prevents accidental changes. However, sometimes it is desirable to change typographical errors, OCR conversion errors or make minor updates to a source text during the translation process to maintain TM quality, etc. memoQ allows this.

The screenshot above has two OCR errors marked. To correct the source in a segment, place your cursor in it and select Edit > Edit Source or press F2 to allow editing. The source segment being edited will have a green highlighted background:

After you are done correcting a source segment, click elsewhere in the editing window; the green highlighting will disappear and the changes will be saved. Here are the two segments after correction:

Jun 13, 2012

Defining marriage: a call for dictionary reform

I don't usually have much time for LinkedIn as various correspondents have learned while waiting weeks for a response they might have received in minutes or hours had their message been sent by e-mail. But tonight a thread on the IAPTI group there caught my eye: a discussion regarding a petition to change the definition of marriage on, which is used by about 50 million people each month. The intent is to remove the gender bias of the definition and replace it with more inclusive language - "... two consenting adults, entering into a life-long relationship..." ('til divorce do them part, of course).

I wasn't really expecting something like this, but it makes sense. The top entry for "marriage" on currently defines marriage as being between one man and one woman. Quite aside from any controversies over same-sex marriage, I imagine there are quite a few Muslims in the world who might take issue with that, as well as a few renegade Mormons living in Mexico or hiding out in Colorado canyons. But more relevantly, an increasing number of countries around the world and states of the union from which I come have broadened their legal definition of marriage. That's marriage, not civil union.

I don't make the law, but I can read it, and I really don't see the dictionaries of the world as legitimate venues for continuing to promote a narrow definition which clearly is not valid in many parts of the world. Certainly, marriage may be between a man and a woman. But if the laws of Sweden say that Bjorn is married to Erik, who am I to say he is not? And it is rather presumptuous of a dictionary to tell us otherwise as well.

We don't need dictionaries to score political points for us. On any side. Let them instead attempt a more honest definition, and if they must qualify it by mentioning that legal definitions vary, so be it. None of that nonsense will change the reality of a commitment or lack thereof between two people. Or however many that may be in your jurisdiction.

Really, as language specialists, we should be more honest in our definitions and regardless of whether we are personally inclined toward same-sex marriage or not, we should oppose misguided right-wing attempts to deny a basic human right through lies of language. That reminds me all to much of Nineteen Eighty-Four and the horrible realities it represented.

Do we really want to stand on the side of people who would drag some poor fellow behind a truck while giving their best rebel yells? Or someone so daft he can't distinguish between the SS and its victims (see the IAPTI discussion)?

Dictionary reform? Yes, please. Then let's move on to fighting the bastards who would steal the salt from the peanuts they offer to pay their translators.

A matter of style

Style guides are underappreciated by most of us I suspect. By me as well. And yet many of us encounter problems, misunderstandings or confusion with clients over matters of formatting, spelling conventions, punctuation, etc.

Once in a while some fairly advanced client presents me with a style guide for English documentation in their company or their client's operation. While these are seldom perfect, they are very helpful, and they provide an important point of orientation for work and a basis for "negotiation" if improvements are needed.

I think that style guides are a service, like terminology, that translators could and should offer to clients, with regular updates. A style guide included with a project proposal might also not be a bad thing; it would lay out clearly the rules of writing which would apply by default to a translation and once again serve as a basis for negotiation if something else is desired. No more "oh, we actually wanted British English" three days after the delivery, with no indication of which British variant (Oxford, please) is desired. And, really, it should not be that hard to produce for most of us who have some notion of the rules we usually follow when we write.

Tools like PerfectIt! are useful for developing and maintaining style guides which can also be used for automated quality assurance procedures to catch those little mistakes which are so easy to overlook.

I've been thinking about style guides for many months now, considering how best to integrate them in my business. Recent efforts to incorporate various old blog entries in hardcopy tutorial documents made it clear to me that I need to consider a style guide for this blog too. Up to now, the formatting of text to indicate interface elements (menu paths, button names, field labels, etc.) has used a riot of colors, fonts and text styles. This is a bit counterproductive for didactic purposes as I really ought to know after nearly 30 years of teaching.

Have style guides played a role in your translation transactions? Have they been useful? What opportunities do you see for making better use of them?

Jun 12, 2012

memoQuickie: using the memoQ PDF filter

The memoQ PDF filter is limited: it only works with PDF from editable text, only extracts plain text, and may have problems with complex layouts (such as multiple columns). A PDF with complex or scanned content requires tools such as OCR software (OmniPage, ABBYY FineReader, etc.) to create a source file in RTF, DOC or other formats.

To translate a PDF with the memoQ filter, add it in the Project Wizard or via Project home > Translations > Add document. There are no configurable options.

Even simple files may have format problems.

Examine the extracted text carefully, compare to the original and ensure that segmentation and word order are correct. If not, editing may be required after translation. Note how the ingredients list in Segment 3 is run together.

The target file exported after translation will be plain text. If formatting is needed, it must be applied with other software.

Jun 11, 2012

memoQuickie: migrating legacy TM data to memoQ (for beginners)

If you have worked with other translation environment tools before, you may have translation memory resources that you wish to migrate to memoQ. The best way to do this is to export the data from the old system in TMX format. Delimited text formats (such as WordFast TMs) can also be imported.

To bring the data into memoQ, first create a new translation memory with the appropriate language pair. This can be done via Tools > Resource console… > Translation memories > Create new or in a project via Project home > Translation memories > Create/use new. In most cases,  you will want to use the default TM settings.

Once the TM is created, select it and choose Import from TMX/CSV:

Importing a Wordfast translation memory as delimited text
Importing TMX data created by SDL Trados

After this, your translation memories are ready to use in memoQ.

Jun 9, 2012

memoQuickie: terminology QA

To check terminology in your work most effectively with memoQ's QA module,
  • create a custom QA profile with the desired settings;

  • create a QA termbase with appropriate wildcards and only the terms to check, including forbidden terms (disable all other termbases for the QA run);

  • select Operations > Run QA... and go to the tab for resolving errors and warnings, leaving your document or view open;

  • for efficiency's sake, sort the results list alphabetically by clicking the description header and work through the list systematically until all problems are resolved.

To look up terms, go to the document/view tab; the filters can be used there to fix many entries at once. 

Refine your termbase iteratively by adding or editing terms as you work.

This process is also particularly helpful for QA and editing of jobs performed by multiple translators to ensure absolute consistency with prescribed terminology.

memoQuickie: quality assurance profiles

memoQ’s QA features help catch errors and improve consistency, but the default options enabled can be overwhelming. I prefer simpler, focused QA for a few tasks like checking terms and tags. QA profiles are under Tools > Resource console... > QA settings 

or  Tools > Options... > Default resources > QA settings

The checkmarked profile is the default for new projects.

To make a new profile, clone an existing one, rename and edit it. The defaults settings are:

To do a check, select Operations > Run QA... and choose what to examine:

The results show the segment number (row) and error type. Clicking the Description header sorts the list alphabetically, making it easier to fix similar problems systematically. To look up terms it is necessary to switch to a tab for a document or termbase.

To change the QA profile used, go to Project home > Settings > QA settings: