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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.