Dec 11, 2018

Your language in Hey memoQ: recognition information for speech

There are quite a number of issues facing memoQ users who wish to make use of the new speech recognition feature – Hey memoQ – released recently with memoQ version 8.7. Some of these are of a temporary nature (workarounds and efforts to deal with bugs or shortcomings in the current release which can reasonably be expected to change soon), others – like basic information on commands for iOS dictation and what options have been implemented for your language – might not be so easy to work out. My own research in this area for English, German and Portuguese has revealed a lot of errors in some of the information sources, so often I have to take what I find and try it out in chat dictation, e-mail messages or the Notes app (my favorite record-keeping tool for such things) on the iOS device. This is the "baseline" for evaluating how Hey memoQ should transcribe text in a given language.

But where do you find this information? One of the best way might be a Google Advanced Search on Apple's support site. Like this one, for example:

The same search (or another) can be made by adding the site specification after your search terms in an ordinary Google search:

The results lists from these searches reveal quite a number of relevant articles about iOS dictation in English. And by hacking the URLs on certain pages and substituting the language code desired, one can get to the information page on commands available for that language. Examples include:
All the same page, with slightly modified URLs.

The Mac OS information pages are also a source of information on possible iOS commands that one might not find so easily otherwise. An English page with a lot of information on punctaution and symbols is here:

The same information (if available) for other languages is found just by tweaking the URL:

and so on. Some guidance on Apple's choice of codes for language variants is here, but I often end up getting to where I want to go by guesswork. The Microsoft Azure page for speech API support might be more helpful to figure out how to tweak the Apple Support URLs.

When you edit the commands list, you should be aware of a few things to avoid errors.
  • The current command lists in the first release may contain errors, such as mistakenly typing "phrase" in angular brackets as shown in the first example above; on editing, the commands that are followed by a phrase do not show the placeholder for that phrase, as you see in the example marked "2".
  • Commands must be entered without quotation marks! Compare the marked examples 1 and 2 above. If quotes are typed when editing a command, this will not be revealed by the appearance of the command; it will look OK but won't work at all until the quote marks are removed by editing.
  • Command creation is an iterative process that may entail a lot of frustrating failures. When I created my German command set, I started by copying some commands used for editing by Dragon NaturallySpeaking, but often the results were better if I chose other words. Sometimes iOS stubbornly insists on transcribing some other common expression, sometimes it just insists on interpreting your command as a word to transcribe. Just be patient and try something else.
The difficulties involved in command development at this stage are surely why only one finished command set (for the English variants) for memoQ-specific commands was released at first. But that makes it all the more important to make command sets "light resources" in memoQ, which can be easily exported and exchanged with others.

At the present stage, I see the need for developing and/or fixing the Hey memoQ app in the following ways:
  • Fix obvious bugs, which include: 
  • The apparently non-functional concordance insertions. In general, more voice control would be helpful in the memoQ Concordance.
  • Capitalization errors which may affect a variety of commands, like Roman numerals, ALL CAPS, title capitalization (if the first word of the title is not at the start of the segment), etc.
  • Dodgy responses to the commands to insert spaces, where it is often necessary to say the command twice and get stuck with two spaces, because a single command never responds properly by inserting a space. Why is that needed? Well, otherwise you have to type a space on the keyboard if you are going to use a Translation Results insertion command to insert specialized terminology, auto-translation rule results, etc. into your text. 
  • Address some potentially complicated issues, like considering what to do about source language text handling if there is no iOS support for the source language or the translator cannot dictate commands effectively in that language. I can manage in German or Portuguese, but I would be really screwed these days if I had to give commands in Russian or Japanese.
  • Expand dictation functionality in environments like the QA resolution lists, term entry dialog, alignment editor and other editors.
  • Look for simple ideas that could maximize returns for programming effort invested, like the "Press" command in Dragon NaturallySpeaking, which enables me to insert tags, for example, by saying "Press F9". This would eliminate the need for some commands (like confirmation and all the Translation Results insertion commands) and open up a host of possibilities by making keyboard shortcuts in any context controllable by voice. I've been thinking a lot about that since talking to a colleague with some pretty tough physical disabilities recently.
Overall, I think that Hey memoQ represents a great start in making speech recognition available in a useful way in a desktop translation environment tool and making the case for more extensive investments in speech recognition technology to improve accessibility and ergonomics for working translators.

Of course, speech recognition brings with it a number of different challenges for reviewing work: mistakes (or "dictos" as they are sometimes called, a riff on keyboard "typos") are often harder to catch, especially if one is reviewing directly after translating and the memory of intended text is perhaps fresh enough to override in perception what the eye actually sees. So maybe before long we'll see an integrated read-back feature in memoQ, which could also benefit people who don't work with speech recognition. 

Since I began using speech recognition a lot for my work (to cope with occasionally unbearable pain from gout), I have had to adopt the habit of reading everything out loud after I translate, because I have found this to be the best way to catch my errors or to recognize where the text could use a rhetorical makeover. (The read-back function of Dragon NaturallySpeaking in English is a nightmare, randomly confusing definite and indefinite articles, but other tools might be usable now for external review and should probably be applied to target columns in an exported RTF bilingual file to facilitate re-import of corrections to the memoQ environment, though the monolingual review feature for importing edited target text files and keeping project resources up-to-date is also a good option.)

As I have worked with the first release of Hey memoQ, I have noticed quite a few little details where small refinements or extensions to the app could help my workflow. And the same will be true, I am sure, with most others who use this tool. It is particularly important at this stage that those of us who are using and/or testing this early version communicate with the development team (in the form of e-mail to memoQ Support - - with suggestions or observations). This will be the fastest way to see improvements I think.

In the future, I would be surprised if applications like this did not develop to cover other input methods (besides an iOS device like an iPhone or iPad). But I think it's important to focus on taking this initial platform as far as it can go so that we can all see the working functionality that is missing, so that as the APIs for relevant operating systems develop further to support speech recognition (especially the Holy Grail for many of us, trainable vocabulary like we have in Dragon NaturallySpeaking and a very few other applications). Some of what we are looking for may be in the Nuance software development kits (SDKs) for speech recognition, which I suggested using some years ago because they offer customizable vocabularies at higher levels of licensing, but this would represent a much greater and more speculative investment in an area of technology that is still subject to a lot of misunderstanding and misrepresentation.

Dec 10, 2018

"Hey memoQ" command tests

In my last post on the release of memoQ 8.7 with its new, integrated speech recognition feature I included a link to a long, boring video record of my first tests of the speech recognition facility, most of which consisted of testing various spoken iOS commands to generate text symbols, change capitalization, etc. I tested some of the integrated commands that are specific to memoQ, but not in an organized way really.

In a new testing video, I attempt to show all the memoQ-specific spoken command types and how the commands are affected by the environment (in this case I mean whether the cursor is on the target text side or the source text side or in some other place in the concordance, for example).

Most of the spoken commands work rather well, except for insertion from the concordance, which I could not get to work at all. When the cursor is in a source text cell, commands have to be given in the source text language currently, which is sure to prove interesting for people who don't speak their source language with a clean accent. Right now it's even more interesting, because English is the only language with a ready-made command list; other languages have to "roll their own" for now, which is a bit of a trial-and-error thing. I don't even want to think how this is going to work if the source language isn't supported at all; I think some thought had to be given to how to use commands with source text. I assume if it's copied to the target side it will be difficult to select unless, with butchered pronunciation, the text also happens to make sense in the target language.

It's best to watch this video on YouTube (start it, then click "YouTube" at the bottom of the running video). There you'll find a time code index in the description (after you click SEE MORE) which will enable you to navigate to specific commands or other things shown in the test video.

My ongoing work with Hey memoQ make it clear that what I call "mixed mode" (dictation with concurrent use of the keyboard) is the best and (actually) necessary way to use this feature. The style for successful dictation is also quite different than the style I need to use with Dragon NaturallySpeaking for best results. I have to discipline myself to speak more in short phrases, less in longer ones, much less in long sentences, which may cause some text to be dropped.

There is also an issue with Translation Results insertions and the lack of spaces before them; the command to insert a space ("spacebar" in English) is dodgy, so I usually have to speak it twice and end up with a superfluous space. The video shows my workaround for this in one part: I speak a filler word (in one case I tried "dummy" which was rendered as "dumb he") and then select it later and insert an entry from the Translation Results pane over the selected text. This is in fact how we can deal with specialist terminology not recognized by the current speech dictionary until it becomes possible to train new words some day.

The sound in the video (spoken commands) is also of variable quality; with some commands I had to turn my head toward the iPhone on its little tripod next to my laptop, which caused the pickup of that speech to be bad on the built-in microphone on the laptop's screen. So this isn't a Hollywood-class recording; it's simply a slightly edited record of some of my tests to give other memoQ users some idea of what they can expect from the feature right now.

Those who will be dictating in supported languages other than English need some patience right now. It's not always easy coming up with commands that will be recognized easily but which are unlikely to occur as words to be transcribed in typical dictation work. During the beta test of Hey memoQ I used some bizarre and unusual German words which just happened to be recognized. I'm developing a set of more normal-sounding commands right now, but it's a work in progress.

The difficulties I am encountering making up new command phrases (or changing the English ones in some cases) simply reinforce my belief that these command lists should be made into portable light resources as soon as possible.

I am organizing summary tables of the memoQ-specific commands and useful iOS commands for symbols, capitals, spacing, etc. comparing their performance in other iOS apps with what we see right now in Hey memoQ.

Update: the summary file for English is available here. I will post links here for any other languages I can prepare later.

Migrating memoQ with Mac Parallels

A recurring complaint among memoQ users is the perceived (and actual) difficulty of moving all one's resources to a new computer when it's time to retire the old one. My favorite strategy is to create a single backup file for all my projects and restore that on a new machine, though this still leaves some details to clean up like moving light resources that don't happen to be included in any of those projects. Some people like to make a dummy project and attach all the heavy resources to that, but this is really only a viable option if you work in a single language pair. There are other strategies, of course, some better than others, given the particular situation.

Recently, a colleague who prefers to work on Apple Macintosh computers with Windows running in a Parallels virtual machine (VM) shared her new approach to migration. Apparently it's working well. And I suspect that the same approach could be used with a Windows VM under Windows as I used to do a lot in the days I tested more unstable software and needed to quarantine potential disasters.

Rather than re-install everything on the new machine, she simply
  1. installed Parallels on the new Mac,
  2. copied the VM file from the old Mac to the new one and
  3. copied resource folders to an identical path on the new Mac.
That's all. The fact that this is a virtual environment makes it all easier. So any memoQ user who runs the software using some virtual machine (VMware, Parallels, etc.) could do the same I suppose. Or any user with any operating system who runs Windows on a virtual machine.

That should have occurred to me earlier. Years ago I used to run several virtual machines with ancient versions of Windows to access old CD-based dictionaries that could not run under newer OS versions, but I've fallen out of that habit in recent years as the emphasis of my translation work shifted to other fields.

Dec 7, 2018

Integrated iOS speech recognition in memoQ 8.7

Today, memoQ Translation Technologies (the artists formerly known as "Kilgray") officially released their iOS dictation app along with memoQ version 8.7, making that popular translation environment tool the first on the desktop to offer free integrated speech recognition and control.

My initial tests of the release version are encouraging. Some bugs with capitalization which I identified with the beta test haven't been fixed yet, and some special characters which work fine in the iOS Notes app don't work at all, but on the whole it's a rather good start. The control commands implemented for memoQ work far better than I expected at this stage. I've got a very boring, clumsy (and unlisted) video of my initial function tests here if anyone cares to look.

Before long, I'll release a few command cheat sheets I've compiled for English (update: it's HERE), German and Portuguese, which show which iOS dictation functions are implemented so far in Hey memoQ and which don't perform as expected. There are no comprehensive lists of these commands, and even the ones that claim to cover everything have gaps and errors, which one can only sort out by trial and error. This isn't an issue with the memoQ development team for the most part, but rather of Apple's chaotic documentation.

The initial release only has a full set of commands implemented in English. Those who want to use control commands for navigating, selecting, inserting, etc. will have to enter there own localized commands for now, and this too involves some trial and error to come up with a good working set. And I hope that before long the development team will implement the language-specific command sets as a shareable light resources. That will make it much easier to get all the available languages sorted out properly for productive work.

I am very happy with what I see at the start. Here are a few highlights of the current state of Hey memoQ dictation:
  • Bilingual dictation, with source language dictation active when the cursor is on the source side and target language dictation active when the cursor is on the target side. Switching languages in my usual dictation tool - Dragon NaturallySpeaking - is a total pain in the butt.
  • No trainable vocabulary at present (an iOS API limitation), but this is balanced in a useful way by commands like "insert first" through "insert ninth", which enable direct insertion of the first nine items in the Translation Results pane. Thus is you maintain good termbases, the "no train" pain is minimized. And you can always work in "mixed mode" as I usually do, typing what is not convenient to speak and using keyboard shortcuts for commands not yet supported by voice control, like tag insertion.
  • Microphones connected (physically or via Bluetooth) with the iPhone or iPad work well if you don't want to use the integrated microphone in the iOS device. My Apple earphones worked great in a brief test.
Some users are a bit miffed that they can't work directly with microphones connected to the computer or with Android devices, but at the present time, the iOS dictation API is the best option for the development team to explore integrated speech functions which include program control. That won't work with Chrome speech recognition, for example. As other APIs improve, we can probably expect some new options for memoQ dictation.

Moreover, with the release of iOS 12, I think many older devices (which are cheap on eBay or probably free from friends who don't use them) are now viable tools for Hey memoQ dictation. Update: I found a list of iPhone and iPad devices compatible with iOS 12 here.)

Just for fun, I tested whether Hey memoQ and Dragon NaturallySpeaking interfere with one another. They don't it seems. I switched back and forth from one to the other with no trouble. During the app's beta phase, I did not expect that I would take Hey memoQ as a serious alternative to DNS for English dictation, but with the current set of commands implemented, I can already work with greater comfort than expected, and I may in fact use this free tool quite a bit. And I think my friends working into Portuguese, Russian and other languages not supported by DNS will find Hey memoQ a better option than other dictation solutions I've seen so far.

This is just the beginning. But it's a damned good start really, and I expect very good things ahead from memoQ's development team. And I'm sure that, once again, SDL and others will follow the leader :-)

And last, but not least, here's an update to show how to connect the Hey memoQ app on your iOS device to memoQ 8.7+ on your computer to get started with dictation in translation:

Dec 5, 2018

Bilingual Excel to LiveDocs corpora: video

A bit over three years ago, I published a blog post describing a simple way to move EUR-Lex data into a memoQ LiveDocs corpus so that the content can be used for matching and concordance work in translation and editing. The particular advantage of a LiveDocs corpus versus a translation memory is that the latter does not allow users to read the document context for concordance hits.

A key step in the import process is to bring the bilingual content in an Excel file into a memoQ project as a "translation document" and then send that content to LiveDocs from the translation files list. Direct import to a LiveDocs corpus of bilingual content using the multilingual delimited text import filter is still not possible despite years of asking the development team for memoQ to implement this.

This is irritating, though in the case of a EUR-Lex alignment which may be slightly out of sync and need fixing, it is perhaps all for the best. And in some other situations, where the content may be incomplete and require filtering (in a View) before sending it to the corpus, it also makes sense to bring the file in as a translation document first to use the many tools available for selecting and modifying content. However, in many situations, it's simply a nuisance that the files cannot be sent directly to a LiveDocs corpus.

In any case, I've now done a short (silent) video to make the steps involved in this import process a little clearer:

Dec 4, 2018

New URL search for IATE terminology

There was some consternation recently among translators who use the EU's IATE (Interactive Terminology for Europe) terminology database with web search tools integrated in their translation environments such as OmegaT, SDL Trados Studio or memoQ. Quite a number of colleagues emphasized the need for URL parameter searching, and the IATE development team has now responded by implementing exactly that.

Here is how the new URL parameters might look in the memoQ Web Search settings, for example:

The basic format uses three important parameters: term (the expression to look for), sl (the source language) and tl (the target language). So a search for the French term for the German word Eisen (iron) would look like:

Thanks to Zsolt Varga of the memoQ team for notifying users of the IATE search upgrade via social media!

Optimizing memoQ terminology extraction

On December 28, 2018 from 2:00 to 3:30 pm Lisbon time (3:00 to 4:30 pm CET, 9:00 to 10:30 am EST), I'll be giving a talk on terminology extraction in the latest version of memoQ. Recent versions of this tool have included many improvements to its terminology features, and it's time for an update on how to get the most out of the term extraction features of memoQ among other things.

Topics to be covered include the creation of new stopword lists or the extension of existing ones, customer-, project- or topic-specific stopword lists, criteria for corpora, term mining strategies and the subsequent maintenance and use of term bases in projects. Participants will be equipped with all the information needed to use this memoQ feature confidently, reliably and profitably in their professional work.

The webinar is free, but registration is required. To register, go to:

The same presentation (more or less) will be held in German on December 21 at the same time for those who prefer to hear and discuss the topic in that language.

Dec 3, 2018

Terminologieextraktion mit memoQ: die neuesten Möglichkeiten

Am 21. Dezember um 15:00 Uhr bis 16:30 Uhr MEZ findet wieder eine deutschsprachige memoQ-Schulung online statt. Thema: Optimierung der Terminologieextraktion. Der Vortrag bietet eine Übersicht der Möglichkeiten für effizientes Arbeiten mit dem Extraktionsmodul für Terminologie in memoQ. Von der Neuerstellung bzw. Erweiterung der Stoppwortlisten, kunden-, projekt- oder themenspezifische Stoppwortlisten, Korpuskriterien und Extraktionsstrategien bis zu der anschließenden Pflege der Terminologiedatenbanken und dem Einsatz im Projekt werden Sie mit den notwendigen Informationen gerüstet, diese Funktion bei Ihren professionellen Tätigkeiten sicher, zuverlässig und gewinnbringend einzusetzen. Teilnahme ist kostenlos aber registrierungspflichtig: Ein inhaltsgleicher Vortrag in englischer Sprache findet eine Woche (am 28.12.2018) später statt:

Nov 26, 2018

memoQ as an instrument of bowdlerization

Recently in a memoQ user forum, someone asked if the environment could be used to ensure that certain words would be kept out of a target text. 

The question wasn't clearly understood at first: some thought the asker wanted to ensure that certain words were not translated and suggested the use of non-translatable lists, others pointed out that the memoQ term bases have an option to mark certain term translations as forbidden, which would be indicated by a black color in the Translation Results list, for example:

But no... what was wanted was indeed a monolingual list to ensure that the target text did not contain certain words, regardless of what the source text said.

This is indeed possible in memoQ:

The red box in the screenshot above marks a word on such a forbidden list, which is in an English to English (US) revision project I set up to clean up Mark Twain's 1601 and make it fit for teaching in Sunday school. The presence of a no-no is indicated by a little lightning bolt icon for a QA warning. Actually running a QA check for terminology gave the following result, a list of forbidden expressions (with some alternatives suggested):

How is this done? With an ordinary memoQ term base. One can make a term entry only for a single language - the target language in this instance - and mark the Forbidden term checkbox on the Usage tab.

If there is no source term (or in my example above, where the source and target language are variants of the same language), there will be nothing shown in the translation results list, but if there is a termbase entry marked forbidden which is found on the target side, then a warning will be displayed in the translation and editing grid if the QA profile currently selected for the project includes terminology. (If the QA profile does not include appropriate term checking, no warning will be displayed for segments in the grid, nor will the forbidden words be indicated when QA is run. The Default QA profile does include term checking, but I use a lot of different profiles focused on fewer issues, such as just tag checking, so I have to pay attention to this detail.)

Building such a list word-by-word with manual entries is tedious. So it's probably easier to import your monolingual list of words to avoid from a text file or an Excel sheet, and then in the memoQ Term Base Editor, select a range of terms (like all of them) and set the desired forbidden status for the entire selection:

Bulk changes to any term properties are possible this way as I showed some time ago in a short video tutorial.

The critical setting for the scenario described here is marked with a red box in the QA profile below:

As you can see, the source text can also be checked for forbidden expressions if that option is also selected.

I have created a dedicated termbase to track forbidden expressions in three languages. Lists - monolingual or otherwise - of forbidden expressions can be maintained in one or more term bases or the expressions can be kept in a more ordinary term base. If barring certain common expressions in one or more languages is important to you, it might be convenient to maintain this information in a dedicated term base.

And for recent versions of memoQ (8.4 and later), make sure that the term bases you want to use for quality assurance are marked on the Term bases page of Project home. Here it's not a good idea to use your larger translation term bases for QA, because these may result in rather large numbers of false positives. Optimum term properties settings for translation and quality assurance are often not the same.

Thus memoQ can be used as a powerful tool to avoid embarrassment from an unfortunate choice of words and to adapt the target language to fit a particular audience better. Thinking back to the time, years ago, when a friend who ran the translation department at a conservative German company nearly got fired for writing that a certain software operation could be performed at the touch of a penis (a Freudian slip after he and some other translators were joking about how sick they were of a certain phrase in the user documentation) and remembering the sensitivity to terms I have seen with some clients (at the same software company, the term FAQ was banned, because executive management was afraid that it might be pronounced like fuck), I can see how this somewhat unusual approach to terminology in memoQ could be a job-saver for some.

Nov 9, 2018

Chrome speech recognition in all your Windows and Linux applications

In a recent social media discussion, a Slovenian colleague was asking me about the upcoming hey memoQ feature that I've been testing, and I found that iOS apparently doesn't support that language (nor does MacOS for that matter). But then she commented
I use Chrome's voice notebook plugin with memoQ. It works somehow for a while, then it gets laggy and I have to refresh Chrome or restart it. I miss the consistency and learning ability of DNS. But yes, the paid version allows you to use it with any app, including memoQ. The free version does not have this functionality. I love translating with dictation, I am not a fast typist and I rather hate typing...
I had no idea what she was talking about, but a few more questions and a little investigation cleared up my confusion. Some years ago when Chrome's speech recognition feature was introduced, it seemed to me that it should be possible to adapt it for use in other (non-browser) applications, and I think this was even stated as a possibility. But at the time I could not find any application to do this, and I'm too out of practice these days to program my own.

Well, it seems that someone has addressed this deficiency.

The voice to text notebook extension of Chrome has additional tools available on the creator's website which enable the speech recognition functions to be used in any other application. This additional functionality is a service with fees, but at USD 2.50 per month or USD 16.00 per year (via PayPal), it's unlikely to break the bank. And a free trial of two days can be activated once you have registered. I'm testing it now, and it's rather interesting. Not perfect (as noted by the colleague who made me aware of this tool), but it may be an option for those wanting to use speech recognition in languages not currently supported by other applications.

Sep 22, 2018

Technology for legal and financial translation: lecture video

memoQfest 2018, held this year in Budapest from May 31 to June 1, was a great event as I noted in my recent discussion of how Kilgray – or rather "memoQ" as the company is now called – is on track with changes to the product and additions to its development and support teams in the broadest sense. This year, I spoke on some of the benefits of technology in general and memoQ technology in particular for translating specialists for law and finance. This was, in part, an abbreviated and updated version of my talk last year at the translation program in Buenos Aires University's law faculty and it is of course simply an overview of possibilities with some examples. This is a subject which could easily make up a full course for a semester or year, and in less than an hour one can only discuss a few bones of the concept, much less the full skeleton or the vital and varied body of modern practice.

The recording of the talk was released recently on the memoQ YouTube channel, so here it is embedded for those who missed it and want to see what was said:

I'll be giving a similar talk at the end of this in Valencia, Spain at IAPTI's international conference this year, though from a little different perspective. I hope to meet some of you there.

Sep 21, 2018

Free TM source file data information utility

Just yesterday I was chatting with an Egyptian colleague about an interesting conference to be held in Cairo next April, and he told me how his wife sometimes gets annoyed with him because he gives away so much information. (I am a big beneficiary of his generosity, and some of the best improvements in recent presentations I've given are techniques I have taken directly from him.)

I've been criticized the same way for most of my life, but I've usually found that information shared freely in the right spirit can often feed more people than a bit of bread and some fish, and the occasional dividends that come back are often delightful surprises.

So it was today. I received a nice e-mail from a reader of this blog, who wanted to share a custom tool for which he had commissioned the development to solve a particular troublesome challenge. His letter is posted below along with a download link for this tool and an explanation of what it does. I hope that some will derive unexpected benefits from this.


Hi Kevin,

I've been using memoQ for a year, and some of your posts on Translation Tribulations have helped me do things and solve problems with memoQ that I wouldn't have been able to solve otherwise. So I want to give back to you and all your readers.

I commissioned from the great Stanislav Ohkvat, the author of TransTools, a program to automatically extract the names of all documents contained in a TM. Add ".exe" to the end of the link below to download.

My particular use case is that my colleague reviews my work and sends it back to me for adding to the Master TM, while also adding it to his own Master TM. He also sends me all documents he translates himself, and I review them, adding them to my own TM. However, I recently noticed our Master TMs differed by around 7k segments, meaning we forgot to share a few documents between us.

Rather than tediously sifting through tens of thousands of segments and manually copying the document names, the script does it for us.

I give you full permission to post it on your blog as you see fit.


Érico Carvalho
Pharmacist and translator-subtitler for BNN Medical Translations
Working languages: Brazilian Portuguese to English & vice-versa, Spanish to English, Spanish to Brazilian Portuguese
Specializes in: Clinical Protocols, Informed Consent Forms, Investigator's Brochures, Video Subtitling

Sep 14, 2018

Webinar: Sichere Basis-Workflows in memoQ (am 17.10.2018)

Nach dem Webinar über Auto-Übersetzungsregeln in memoQ, geht die deutsche Vortragsserie nun am 17. Oktober weiter mit einer praktischen Einführung in sichere, umfassende Basisverfahren für typische Projekte auf dem lokalen Rechner. Schritt für Schritt wird gezeigt, wie man bei einem größeren Projekt vorgehen kann, um Probleme zu vermeiden und wichtige Ressourcen zu erstellen und pflegen.

In den geplanten zwei Stunden dieser kostenlosen Präsentation, werden Sie u.a. erfahren wie
  • die technische Machbarkeit einer Lieferung der Übersetzungsergebnisse bestätigt wird,
  • der Umfang des Textes sicher geprüft und bestätigt wird,
  • wichtige Kundenressourcen im Projekt vielleicht besser eingesetzt werden können, 
  • die häufige Sonderterminologie im Projekt ermittelt werden kann,
  • neue Textversionen während der Arbeit effizient in die Bearbeitung einfliessen können, 
und einiges mehr.

Das Webinar findet am 17. Oktober 2018 um 15 Uhr MEZ statt und läuft bis zu 2 Stunden. Die Teilnahme ist kostenlos, aber registrierungspflichtig. Registrieren können Sie sich hier.

Falls Sie sich für weitere memoQ-Onlineschulungen interessieren, geht es hier zu der relevanten Umfrage.

Sep 11, 2018

Adding time codes to YouTube videos

For years now, I have advocated the use of tables of contents for long instructional videos, recorded webinars and suchlike. I saw these in a few instances, but it was never clear how the indices were produced, so I suggested merely writing a list of relevant points and their play times and scrolling manually. Understandably, not many adopted this suggestion.

Then I discovered that my video editor (Camtasia) could create tables of contents for a video automatically when creating a local file, an upload to YouTube or other exports if timeline markers were added at relevant points. The only disadvantage for me with this approach was the limit on the length of the descriptive text attached to the markers. Worse than Twitter in the old days.

But when I accidentally added a marker I didn't want and removed it from the YouTube video description (which is where a TOC resides on YouTube), I saw that things were much simpler than I imagined. And a little research with tutorials made by others confirmed that any time code written at the beginning of a line in the video's description will become a clickable link to that time in the video.

So I've begun to go through some of my old videos with a text editor opened along side. When the recording gets to a point that I want to include in the table of contents, I simply pass the cursor over the video, take note of the time, and then write that time code into the text file along with a description of any length.

Afterward, I simply paste the contents of that text file into the description field in YouTube's editor. When the Save button at the top right is clicked, the new description for the video will be active, and viewers can use the index to jump to the points they want to see. Because only a few lines of the description text are visible by default, I include a hint at the beginning of the text to let people know that the live table of contents is available if they click the SEE MORE link.

If Kilgray, SDL, Wordfast and others involved with the language services sector would adopt techniques like this for their copious recorded content on the Web, the value and accessibility of this content would increase enormously. It would also be very simple then to create hot links to important points in other environments (PowerPoint slides, PDF files, etc.) to help people get to the information they need to learn better.

Not to do this would truly be a great waste and a shame in many cases.

Sep 8, 2018

Editing inline tag content in memoQ

The topic of accessing and editing translatable text in tags comes up from time to time. I thought I had published instructions on this topic some time ago, but when a tech-savvy colleague who always does a proper search before asking questions couldn't find it, nor could yours truly, I concluded that it was time for another tutorial video. So here it is:

The video post on YouTube includes a hot-linked table of contents that will enable you to jump to key parts of the tutorial. This is a very simple function to implement with "markers" in Camtasia, and I recommend that those who make tutorials of any significant length or who post recorded webinars consider implementing such tables of contents to facilitate finding particular parts of interest without endless hit-and-miss searching in a long video.

Sep 2, 2018

Getting independence right: as simple as ABC!

There's been a bit of a buzz lately in professional language service circles regarding a recent ruling by California's Supreme Court, which establishes a new, simplified standard to determine independent contractor status. For example, the corporate interest blog Slator reported on the panic among large language brokerage firms sometimes known for predatory and abusive practices with the companies and individuals whom they contact to provide services, while independent interpreter Tony Rosado offered an interesting perspective on how the ruling can have a positive impact on independent professionals in his field and, I dare say, independent translators as well.

The Court's decision established the "ABC" criteria as the new standard for distinguishing employees from independent contractors:
A) The individual must be free from the control and direction by the hiring entity with regard to the performance of the work, under the terms of the contract for the performance of this work and in fact. 
B) The individual must perform work which is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business. 
C) The individual is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed for the hiring entity.
Failure to meet all three criteria will lead to a finding that the individual is an employee and is therefore not an independent contractor.

Now you might say – correctly – that California is a long way from New York, London, Paris, Berlin and Rome, what has that got to do contractor conditions there? A lot.

Over the past three and a half decades, since the rape and pillage of unions and workers rights in general began by the rapacious disciples of Ronald Reagan, a system of work and service practices has evolved which I think could fairly be called social strip-mining. (After I wrote this term, I wondered if others have used it as well, and found, unsurprisingly, that this obvious analogy has occurred to quite a number of people.) Very few of the present practices by large corporate providers of language services (interpreting, translation, writing and editing) are in fact sustainable.

Like strip mining companies tearing down a mountain and utterly destroying its ecology of flora and fauna, polluting waters underground and on the surface nearby as well as other ecosystems, companies like Lionbridge, thebigword, TransPerfect, RWS/Moravia and others and their downstream companies in the service sewer put the squeeze on individuals at the end of their corporate digestive system to extract maximum resources for minimum benefit in a manner which often cannot sustain the living of the writers, editors, translator, interpreters and other service workers at the butt end of things. These individuals may cling for some time to their desperate situation as an alternative to prostitution or delivering pizzas, but there is very little incentive and few resources provided for them to develop as professionals and acquire greater skills to deliver greater value with time.

Some, like abused children, learn the lesson of what the abusers can get away with and continue the cycle on small and large scales, outsourcing or even founding new companies with similar practices.

In truth, nobody is well-served by these practices on the end customer side – the individuals, companies and government bodies who contract with the intermediaries for services provided by individual interpreters, translators, editors, etc. – nor on the end-provider side – those very interpreters, translators, editors, etc. And in the middle? "Growth" seems to derive largely from acquisition and from refinement of their marketing deceptions (many in the bulk market bog of language services have SEO-tuned web pages designed to capture searches for independent individual service providers), not so much from actual organic growth of internal service and quality offered. Price dumping practices are also common; many small service companies are unable to compete with "loss leader" prices to end customers which are lower than those they pay to real independent service providers of good professional business standing.

None of these abusive practices are new; they have been known in many forms throughout the modern history of labor starting more or less in the early 19th century. These practices ultimately led to the rise of unions and bodies of protective legislation in the past, so it is not surprising that some have called for "unionization" of international service providers. ("Workers of the world, unite!", anyone?) But these well-meaning calls for unions of interpreters and translators are not really practical in most situations. So many say there is nothing to be done.

Wrong. The California Supreme Court decision points the way toward ending the worst of corporate abuses of individuals providing service by creating a situation in which the true costs of these services are emphasized in the relationship with the service provider. There is nothing standing in the way of companies like Lionbridge or much smaller companies from increasing salaried staff to write, translate, interpret, etc. under local statutory conditions for ordinary employment. To the extent they find this impractical, these companies can contract with other companies or with individuals who meet the ABC criteria.

Such a requirement would also give a fair break to those companies who do in fact invest in the socioeconomic maintenance and professional development of their employees providing service to end customers. Under current practices, these good companies are unfairly disadvantaged by laws and regulatory practices which now permit these service strip-miners to operate as they do. Local and national governments would also benefit from and increase of benefit payments from registered employees or from taxes assessed on work transactions which fail the ABC test.

In the environment of expanding globalized trade and sophisticated corporate shell games to avoid tax liabilities, enforcement of necessary and proper good social practice at the "source" – the intermediate provider level or at the end customer level where there is a direct relationship between a company or government body with a presumed independent service provider – is perhaps the most practical way to accomplish some of the reforms needed on a global scale.

Aug 24, 2018

Webinar: Auto-Übersetzungsregeln in memoQ - Planung, Anwendung und Pflege (am 12.09.2018)

Der Vortrag wurde aufgenommen und ist hier verfügbar.

Auto-Übersetzungsregeln gehören zu den nützlichsten, kaum benutzten Aspekten der memoQ-Arbeitsumgebung. Mit Hilfe dieser Regeln kann man unter anderem viel Zeit bei der Gestaltung und Qualitätssicherung musterbasierter Texte sparen, zum Beispiel bei Datumsangaben, bibliografischen Informationen, rechtliche Referenzangabe,Währungsausdrücken usw.

Diese Regeln basieren auf regulären Ausdrücken, aber solche Kompetenzen sind für ihren effektiven Einsatz nicht unbedingt vorausgesetzt. Viel wichtiger ist es, die geeignete Erfassung der Basisinformationen zu verstehen, sowie mögliche Variationen im Ausgangstext, damit technische Ressourcen für Erstellung und Pflege gezielt und richtig anzuwenden werden können.

Die geplanten zwei Stunden dieser kostenlosen Präsentation beinhalten Beispiele häufiger Anwendungsgebiete für den praktischen Einsatz dieser Technologie in der Übersetzung mit memoQ. Um die vorgeführten Inhalte üben und anwenden zu können, sind folgende Elemente notwendig bzw. empfohlen:
  • eine aktuelle memoQ-Lizenz (ohne funtioniert nichts!)
  • die kostenlose Software Notepad++ (stark empfohlen)
  • ein tabellenfähiges Textprogramm, wie z.B. Microsoft Word, Google Docs oder der OpenOffice-Editor 

Das Webinar findet am 12. September 2018 um 15 Uhr MEZ statt und läuft bis zu 2 Stunden. Die Teilnahme ist kostenlos, aber registrierungspflichtig. Der Erwerb brauchbarer Exemplare der vorgeführten Anwendungsbeispiele bzw. persönlich angepasster Versionen ist auch nachher möglich.

Falls Sie sich für weitere memoQ-Onlineschulungen interessieren, geht es hier zu der relevanten Umfrage.

Aug 22, 2018

The Case of the Missing Puerto Rico Blog Post

"Say goodbye to your friends in Russia, hello to the FBI!"

On September 20th, 2017, Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, with winds of 250 kph. The resulting destruction of lives and infrastructure was shocking, but even more shocking was the lack of response by the US government and others to the humanitarian disaster on American soil.

In the aftermath, translator and interpreter Heidi Cazes-Sevilla, who is based on the island, inspired me and many other friends and colleagues with her tales of human courage and help for neighbors on the ground where so many died or saw their property and lives blown into ruin.

The many pictures she sent me nearly a year ago (those above are just a small part from her tour of Hell) trickled slowly over a low-bandwidth connection via her mobile phone. Her many updates from before and after the storm kept us on edge worrying about her and so many others trapped in the storm's path.
Going to sleep. 12:30 amStill calm in Puerto Rico.A bit of rain, sort of a drizzle. We still have power, wifi, cable. 
Just heard the 11:00 pm update. No real change.Maria's hurricane force winds will enter the southeast of the island at about 8 am at 175mph, and will exit northeast at 8 pm. 
From the current trajectory, we will be getting either the eye of the storm, or just the eyewall. 
Our house is in a safe area, not floodable, not too high, surrounded by some elevation which might protect us. Also, it is a neighborhood where houses are closeby, also protecting each other... It is built of concrete cinder blocks, ALL its walls. That means it is sort of a bunker, with some areas which are bunkers within the bunker. It won't be confortable probably, but I am sure we will weather the storm. 
See you all tomorrow again, after the storm, hoping we have at least some cellular coverage. 
Sharing hurricane advice from my friend Alma:
My lawyer can't never get out of me, even in crisis. Here some tips:
1) take photos of your property prior to hurricane, for insurance claim purposes.
2) take away any decorations or devices from yard which might become projectiles. If something happens with any of your belongings, which could have been prevented, you will be responsible.
3) don't to
uch any cables on floor, even if it seems like not a live wired.
4) take your animals into your home or to safe ground. Leaving an animal behind, its breaking the law, because it's animal abuse.
5) don't go outside in the middle of the storm to check what's going on. Even when the eye of the hurricane brings a deceiving calmness.
6) don't block entrances of homes by any means, particularly cars.
7) be aware with the emergency, the prices on gas and basic essentials are frozen by the government. So if a store wants to overcharge, report them to the authorities.
8)keep some cash with you, because banks will be closed and atms won't work.
9) filled you car tank, you might not have gas in a while.
10) if you are an employer, pay your employees today, not because of the law but for moral reasons.
11) any other observations from fellow lawyers are welcome.

Hello all! 
Thank you for your messages of support!
Day 2 and doing ok. Connectivity is still iffy, only thanks to AT&T. We can connect via phone, slow whatsapp and sometimes messenger. Internet still very sporadic.
Impressive seeing how neighbors gather round for cleanup, clearing trees and obstacles from the way. Will post pictures later, how people got rid of huge trees and posts blocking access to another neighborhood.
All we know is what we see around home and hear from neighbors. Most of my information on situation here has come by phone or messages from outside PR, or the crazy access to internet and FB. 
One radio staTion which most of the time only says they are the only station transmitting... that's all..
Please post any information you read, just text, not links, so we can be informed. 
I learned of curfew from my son in Philly, about hurricane path from my son in Boston, that airport is opening toncommercial flights on Sat pm, too.
We are starved for information!
We are fine, let's see what tomorrow brings...

I want to share what my friend Carol Terry wrote. It perfectly reflects life in PR these weeks...
I'm just getting back in touch with the outside world as I have internet on my phone at home today, and although I had missed being connected, now I realize more directly how sad our situation is islandwide. I lost power the day before the hurricane and our communications have been down ever since so I didn't even know what path María had taken after battering PR or how extensive the damages were locally. After the hurricane you have so much work to do in your own home and community that you can't even begin to focus on the rest of the people. And if you're a parent of small children, that limits you even more because you must protect and feed them first.
Gasoline is more readily available now which has helped a lot. Before that you didn't even want to drive your car for fear of waiting in line 5 to 12 hours to get gas.
Then little things start to happen that give you some hope (a small sector got power back, a friend brought you water...) and you keep pushing forward one day at a time.
Note: If you are ever under hurricane warning, make sure you have enough food and water for 2 weeks ( they say 3 days, but that is totally insufficient).
As a small island, Puerto Rico is completely crippled. No power, so huge demand for fuels (which can only be imported by boat). You feel anxious, hopeless, scared, tired, hungry, thirsty, but you also wake up stronger everyday.
We have water (at least sometimes) now and we have a generator at night (which I am even ashamed to mention because I know most people here don't have one). You stand in line at the store to find empty shelves. No water (still) and it's overwhelming and terrifying. I don't only speak for myself. This is the current status of MILLIONS of U.S. Citizens, but, hey, we have paper towels, right?
Sorry for the sarcasm, but when you don't have water to drink, a role of paper towels doesn't do much for you.
HOWEVER, we are extremely thankful for the help we hear is being sent to PR and all the stateside personnel who have come to help. I can guarantee our struggle is real and not something we brought onto ourselves. This hurricane has devastated Puerto Rico. I could leave and go elsewhere, but I would be turning my back on this beautiful island and its people who have always been so wonderful to me ever since I stepped on Puerto Rican soil❤ We will come back stronger, but it will take some time.
I don't think I will ever be the same after this ordeal. I have learned and grown a great deal in the past couple of weeks. This only makes me love Puerto Rico more. The people make the difference.

Conversation with a nurse about how she fared with Maria. Thursday, a week and a day after the storm.
She tells me that her husband works in air rescue, so he was away, both for Irma and for Maria. So as she was alone with her daughter, she decided to pass the storm downstairs with her in-laws. After all, winds are worse on higher floors.
The house complies with the building code, so basically all they passed through was the awful experience of the storm passing, and some water coming in. She told me that the winds were terrible, that the different sounds of the storm were terrifying, that it seemed as if the storm was talking to her. She told me that there was a storm shutter that could be moved, and she could look outside and see the storm passing. She told me she decided to take her 5 year old daughter to that window and let her see the storm, because this is "something historic." She told me that she remembers when Hugo came, she was about 7, and her mother made her look out and see the storm, because it was "something historic."
She told me that she has an uncle who was one of the people who died during the hurricane. She said that he lived out in the country with his wife. She told me that when the winds were at their strongest, it seemed that the house's door was about to burst open, so he went outside to strengthen it. She told me he was not a healthy man, and he always used oxygen. When he came back into the house, he was exhausted. He lay down on his wife's lap to rest, and passed.
She told me that area was completely incommunicated. There was no phone, and also no way to get there through the destruction. Her aunt was alone in that house for 2 days with her husband until someone was able to reach her. After that, it took an additional day to be able to remove the body. Nobody knew what to do. It was only until two police officers came, saw the dire situation and took special care, that the remains were taken away.
She told me that her uncle was buried yesterday. They could not have a "velorio" or wake after all that time, and he was buried wearing what he wore when he was born. Nothing could be done about it. After all, it was urgent to bury him, as so long had passed, with the heat and the humidity...
She told me she learned about the funeral because she got a message on her cell to call a pharmacy. The "licenciado" -someone from the pharmacy- gave her the news about the death and the funeral. As there were no phones, the pharmacy became the communication center for that town.
She told me she feels terrible for her aunt. She cannot imagine what she went through those two days. She is sure she will need psychological help.

A dam has failed and caused "extremely dangerous" flooding on Puerto Rico's Guajataca river in the wake of Hurricane Maria, authorities say.
The National Weather Service (NWS) said buses were "currently evacuating people from the area as quickly as they can".
At least 13 people have died on the US territory since Maria ripped through Puerto Rico, devastating homes and knocking out the island's electricity.
The island's governor has called it the worst storm in a century.
Operators of the Guajataca Dam said the dam, located at the northern end of Lake Guajataca in northwest Puerto Rico, failed at 14:10 local time (18:10 GMT).
It sparked a flash flood emergency for Isabela and Quebradillas municipalities, the NWS said in a series of tweets.
The agency urged residents in the area to "move to higher ground now" in an alert posted on its website.
"This is an extremely dangerous and life-threatening situation. Do not attempt to travel unless you are fleeing an area subject to flooding or under an evacuation order," the alert said.
Hurricane Maria, a category three storm, is now moving away from the Turks and Caicos Islands and is expected to head to the northeast and east of the Bahamas over the weekend, forecasters say.
It has claimed more than 30 lives across the region, and is the second devastating storm to hit the Caribbean this hurricane season - the first being category five Irma earlier in September.
Maria caused widespread destruction on the small island of Dominica, where it flattened homes, destroyed buildings and cut off telecommunications when it hit on Monday night.
At least 15 people have died and 20 others are missing on Dominica after the tempest, according to the Caribbean island's Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit.
"It has been brutal," he said on Thursday on the nearby island of Antigua. "We've never seen such destruction."
Puerto Rico's Governor Ricardo Rossello described the hurricane as "the most devastating storm in a century".
He said Maria had hit the island's electricity grid so badly that it could take months to restore power.
Images shared on social media show roofs being stripped away as winds as strong as 140mph (225km/h) whipped trees and power lines in Puerto Rico's capital city, San Juan.
US President Donald Trump said the storm had "totally obliterated" the US territory, and pledged to visit Puerto Rico.
He has yet to declare the island a disaster area but has made federal emergency aid available.
Sort of not too publicly, and hedging the language, Puerto Rican Government Acknowledges Hurricane Maria Death Toll of 1,427
“Mr. Cerame acknowledged that the final version of the report hedges the language to say that the additional deaths “may or may not be attributable” to the storm; the 1,427 figure was also deleted from a chart.”
From the NY Times...
It is hard to believe that 13 days after Maria, supplies have not reached areas beyond the metropolitan area. And communication is also still come and go. (There is still no cell signal on the road west to Dorado beyond Rio Hondo, on km. 5)
Not even towns that are along main expressways, that have been open to traffic from the first days!! Forget about remote towns up on the hills, with access through winding rouds that used to be surrounded by lush vegetation...
And with the difficulty of getting gas, even people who live on accessible roads cannot afford the risk of driving into the metro area and not being able to return.
This is terrible!!

The copied messages above (only some of what Heidi shared) are in no particular order, scrambled as if by the winds and left disordered, because nearly one year past the event I really, still, cannot process what has happened. Not the natural disaster itself, which is one of many to break lives and hearts in my lifetime, many of which have much higher death tolls than the indeterminate thousands who died in Puerto Rico and the many more who continue to suffer the consequences of the hurricane unaided.

It's that last part. Unaided.

I remember the phrase "united we stand" from my school days, and by and large over the course of my life I have seen good domestic responses to natural disasters in the country of my birth.

There are many stories about the state of things in Puerto Rico now. Most of the island has power again I am told. But much of what one reads still reflects the neglect and deliberate denial of basic human rights to the US citizens and others on that island.

There are disasters in the United States of America right now which make the gale force of a hurricane seem like a pitiful fart when one considers their implications for peace, stability and prosperity worldwide. Puerto Rico and the tribulations of its good people are merely collateral damage, alas.

For nearly a year I've been unable to write that blog post I wanted to, lauding the courage and perseverance of my fellow citizens in Puerto Rico. These are no less praiseworthy for my continuing inability to write that post. I think of them, with some guilt, rather often, though they compete for attention with many other tragedies of children - even babies - ripped from their parents' arms at the US border and worse. So much worse.

Translators Without Borders - that notorious charity-washing operation is silent so far as I can tell, perhaps because the bog-dwelling corporations and their associates behind it fear derailing their gravy train by angering the Cheeto in Chief. Probably no profit to be discerned by its members from recycling donated human resources.

We owe a debt to Puerto Rico and to so many others who suffer; it is interest on all the times we ourselves have been aided in manners known and not known when we faced overwhelming challenges. How that debt is to be paid is for each individual to decide, though at a national level the guidelines for this are much clearer and the obligations are clearly not being met in Puerto Rico and at the US border with Mexico and at other points of entry to what was once known as The Land of the Free.

Stand fast. Do what you can when you can. And do not give ground to tyranny and stupidity, much less to raw criminality. We are at war in this world, and although the usual confusion of battlefields can obscure the action and the roles, it is clear that the unholy union of RepubliKKKan greed and Russian ambition centered in Washington D.C. represents a base evil which undermines much of what civilized countries at their best can stand for.

I liked very much the comment of Texan candidate for the US Senate "Beto" O'Rourke when he said that he was not running against his opponent nor against the fake president of the country. He is running for the Senate, for the people of his state, for the good of the country. Let's keep a positive eye on the prize. As for those others: they can run, run for office, run to the arms of their Kremlin masters or other partners in international crime. But they can't hide.