Feb 21, 2015

Veganazis in translation: a fifth column for ISIS?

The Translation Conference Organizer's Final Confession
First they asked for kosher food and separate plates, and I gave it to them, because after all, religious practice should be respected—
though I am not a Jew.
Then they asked for halal food, and I thought "why not?", the Muslims I know are mostly cool—
though Islam is not my Way.
Then they asked for vegetarian food and got it—
Because I am a vegetarian.
Then they asked for vegan fare and it was done—
Because that diet helped Clinton lose weight.
Then they asked for "raw vegan" and I said, "What?"
Because I know raw text, raw emotions, raw deals, raw sex, but can't get my head around a raw vegan.
Then they came for me—and put me on trial for eating honey and contributing to the enslavement of bees. Please God, let them kill me now before I eat another carrot stick.

CAT tools re-imagined - an approach to authoring and editing

I am often asked about the monolingual editing workflows I have used for some 15 years now to improve texts which were written originally in English, not created by translation from another language. And I have discussed various corpus linguistics approaches, such as to learn the language of a new specialty or the NIFTY method often presented by colleague Juliette Scott.

However, on a recent blitz tour of northern Portugal to test the fuel performance of the diesel wheels which may take me to the BP15 and memoQfest conferences in Zagreb and Budapest respectively later this year, I stopped off in Vila Real to meet a couple of veterinarians, one of whom is also a translator. During a lunch chat with typically excellent Portuguese cuisine, the subject of corpus research as an aid for authoring a review paper came up. I began to explain my (not so unusual) methods of editing and existing document when I was asked how the tools of translation technology might be applied to authoring original content.

The other translator at the table said, "It's a shame that I cannot use my translation memories to look things up while I write", and I replied that of course he could do this, for example with the memoQ TM Search Tool or similar solutions from other providers. And then he said, "And what about my term bases and LiveDocs corpora?", and I said I would sleep on it and get back to him. In the days that followed, other friends (coincidentally also veterinarians) asked my advice about editing the English of the Ph.D. theses and other works they will author in English as non-native speakers of that language. One of them noted that it would be "nice" if she could refer to corrections made by various persons and compare them more easily. I said I would sleep on that one too.

A few days after that the pain in my hands and feet from repetitive strain injuries and arthritis was unbearable, aggravated by a rope burn accident while stopping an attack on sheep by my over-eager hunting dog and by driving over 1000 km in a day. I doubled down on the pain meds, made a big jug of toxically potent sangria and otherwise ensured that I was comfortably numb and could enjoy a night of solid sleep.

It was not meant to be. Two hours later I woke up, stone sober, with a song in my head and the solution to the problem of my Portuguese friends writing in English and Tiago wanting to author his work in memoQ for the convenience of using its filters to review content. Since then the concept has continued to evolve and improve as others suggest ways of accommodating their writing or language learning needs.

After about a week of testing I scheduled one of my "huddle" presentation classes, an intimate TeamViewer training session to discuss the approach and elicit new ideas for adapting it better to the needs of monolingual authors. The recording of that session is available for download by clicking on the image of the title slide at the top of this post. (The free TeamViewer software is needed to watch the TVS file downloaded; double-click it, and the 67-minute lecture and Q&A will play.)

I'm currently building Moodle courses which provide more details and templates for this approach to authoring and editing, and it will be incorporated in parts of the many talks and workshops planned this year.

I am aware that SDL killed their authoring product, the Author Assistant, and that Acrolinx offers interesting tools in this area, as do others. But I'm usually hesitant to recommend commercial tools in an academic environment, because their often rapid pace of development (such as we see with memoQ) can play serious havoc with teaching plans and threaten the stability of an instructional program, which is usually best focused on concepts and not on fast-changing details. So I actually started out my work and testing of this idea using the Open Source tool OmegaT, the features of which are more limited but also more stable in most cases than the commercial solutions from SDL, Kilgray and others. But as I worked, I noticed that my greater familiarity with memoQ's features made it an advantageous platform for developing an approach, which in principle works with almost every translation environment tool.

Part of my motivation in creating this presentation was to encourage improvements in the transcription features available in some translation environments. But the more I work with this idea, the more possibilities I see for extending the reach of translation technology into source text authoring and making all the resources needed for help available in better ways. I hope that you may see some possibilities for your own work or learning needs and can contribute these to the discussion.

Feb 17, 2015

End February in Madrid: Workshop for Translators and Editors

I have long respected the Mediterranean Editors and Translators association because of its commitment to excellent continuing professional education. Next month in Madrid there will be a workshop presented jointly with the Spanish association of translators, editors and interpreters, ASETRAD. Have a look at the workshop page of MET with information on the schedule of this English and Spanish event. There is a little over a week before registration closes.

MET-ASETRAD workshop day in Madrid
Saturday, February 28, 2015

Mediterranean Editors and Translators (MET), a peer-driven professional association of language professionals working into or with the English language in the Mediterranean area, is proud to announce that on February 28, 2015, it will once again organize a day-long workshop and networking series in Madrid, Spain. Following the success of last winter’s event in central Madrid and on the heels of MET’s tenth-annual meeting in San Lorenzo de El Escorial, the 2015 workshop series promises to draw an even larger crowd thanks to the participation of the Asociación Española de Traductores, Correctores e Intérpretes (ASETRAD) as co-organizers. Both members of the Vértice network of professional associations for translators, interpreters, and editors, the two sister associations will offer participants a unique opportunity to attend three-hour workshop sessions on topics relevant to the field, short presentations by members of both associations, a free discussion on both groups and their aims, and also a lunch and dinner for networking and socializing with colleagues.

The morning session will feature four simultaneous workshops, two in Spanish and two in English. MET members Emma Goldsmith and Tom O’Boyle will each conduct a workshop in English, while two members of ASETRAD will hold their respective sessions in Spanish. Emma Goldsmith, a medical translator and translation blogger based in the greater Madrid area, will offer insight on how to translate a variety of documents according to the standards of the European Medical Association (EMA), including tips on how to use official templates and terminology when dealing with medicinal product information. For his part, Tom O’Boyle will lead a session on punctuation as a tool for improving text flow. Tom is also based in Madrid and works as a freelance medical translator and author’s editor. Participants who prefer to hone their skills in translation and editing into Spanish may choose to attend the architecture workshop facilitated by Beatriz Pérez Alonso or the website-localization session by Manuel Mata.

After lunch at a nearby restaurant, participants can attend a two-hour block of brief talks, two by members of MET and two from ASETRAD. MET CPD chair Alan Lounds will speak of lesser-known false friends between Spanish and English and strategies when encountering these thorny items, while MET webmaster Timothy Barton will speak of the Excel spreadsheet he has designed to facilitate tax declarations in Spain. The other two talks by ASETRAD members will deal with pharmaceutical translation into Spanish as well as Spanish punctuation. Stephen Waller and María Galán will bring the training activities to a close with a free talk to present their respective associations. A special dinner will be held in the evening, offering participants a chance to get to know members of both groups.

Feb 1, 2015

Early English books now online!

The University of Michigan has recently made some of the first books ever printed online, including texts from the first printed editions of Shakespeare, Chaucer and Milton and more than 25,000 other manually transcribed texts from the period between 1473 and 1700. These are all available free here.

This is not just literature; the works include books of history, philosophy, mathematics and science and many other fields like gardening and cooking. This is the first phase in the Early English Books Online-Text Creation Partnership. Another 40,000 texts may be released as part of this project by the end of the decade.

There are no restrictions for anyone to read, reproduce, distribute and otherwise use these texts.