Sep 16, 2015

Getting around language variant issues in memoQ LiveDocs

I was told by some other users that a fundamental change had been made in the way language data are accessed in LiveDocs. It was said that until a few versions ago it had been possible to use documents for reference in LiveDocs regardless of their sublanguage settings. So I was told. The truth is more complicated than that.

According to my tests, memoQ 2015 is the first version of memoQ to have a logically consistent treatment of language variants for both bilingual and monolingual documents in corpora. All the other versions tested (memoQ 2013R2, 2014, 2014R2) are equally screwed up and show the same results.

The "visibility" of a monolingual or bilingual document when viewed in a corpus attached to a project running under memoQ 2015 follows these rules:

  • the sublanguage (language variant) settings for source and target (of the document or the project) must match the project
  • or the language setting (of the document or the project) must be generic. 
Two rules. Pretty simple. It doesn't matter what version of memoQ the project or corpus was created in, only which version is actively running.

I created a test corpus with the following document mix:

The corpus contained 11 documents, both bilingual and monolingual with a mix of generic language settings and settings with language variants specified (such as German for Germany, Switzerland and Liechtenstein and English for Zimbabwe, the US and UK). 

In a project running under memoQ 2015 with the languages set to generic German and generic English, all 11 documents in the corpus were accessible. 

So if you want access to all LiveDocs corpus data for the major languages of your project, it is necessary to use generic language settings, either when you load the data into LiveDocs (difficult unless you always use the resource console, since adding documents to a corpus from within a project automatically applies the project's language settings!) or in the languages specified for the project itself. And this will only work with memoQ 2015. If you want to apply penalties to particular language variants this can be done using keyword markers (as seen in the screenshot above) and configuring the More penalties tab of the LiveDocs settings file applied to that corpus.

If the same corpus is attached to a project running under memoQ 2015 with language settings for Swiss German and generic English, the documents available from the corpus are these:

For a Swiss German and UK English project under memoQ 2015, this is the picture:

And for a Germany's German and US English:

 All the screenshots above can be predicted based on the two rules stated. Work it out.

"But what happens with earlier versions of memoQ?" you might wonder. It's messy. Here is a look at a Swiss German and UK English project under memoQ 2013 R2, 2014 and 2014 R2: 

And here's a project with generic German and Generic English under memoQ 2013 R2, 2014 and 2014 R2:

In each case the five bilingual documents are visible no matter what the project's language settings are. However, there is strict adherence to language variants and the generic language setting for monolingual documents! In my opinion, that's for the birds. I see no good reason to follow a different rule for data availability in bilingual versus monolingual documents. So in a sense, Kilgray has cleaned up this inconsistency in the latest version of memoQ.

Some have expressed a desire for a "switch" setting to allow language variant settings to be ignored. And perhaps Kilgray will provide such a feature in the future. But the best way to get there now is simply to make your project's language settings generic.

Changing the language settings for bilingual data in an existing LiveDocs corpus 
If you have a corpus with a mix of language settings and you want to convert these to generic settings or a particular variant, this can be done as follows currently only for bilingual documents:
  1. Select the bilingual documents to export from the corpus and export them to a folder. (If you choose to zip them all together, unpack the *.zip file later to make a folder of the exported *.mqxlz files.
  2. Re-import the *.mqxlz files to the LiveDocs corpus via the Resource Console so you are able to specify the exact language settings you want. In the import dialog, you'll have to change the filter setting manually from "binary" to "XLIFF". These *.mqxlz files are not the same as bilingual files from a translation document in a project and are not recognized automatically.
Unfortunately, there is no way to change the language settings of a monolingual document except to re-import it in the Resource Console in its original form and set the language variant (or generic value) there.

So really, for now, the best way to go seems to be to use memoQ 2015 with generic project language settings.

Sep 15, 2015

A quick trip to LiveDocs for EUR-Lex bilingual texts

Quite a number of friends and respected colleagues use EUR-Lex as a reference source for EU legislation. Being generally sensible people, some of them have backed away from the overfull slopbucket of bulk DGT data and built more selective corpora of the legislation which they actually need for their work.

However, the issue of how to get the data into a usable form with a minimum of effort has caused no little trouble at times. The various texts can be copied out or downloaded in the languages of interest and aligned, but depending on the quality of the alignment tool, the results are often unsatisfactory. I've been told that AlignFactory does a better job than most, but then the question of how best to deal with the HTML bitexts from AlignFactory remains.

memoQ LiveDocs is of course rather helpful for quick and sometimes dirty alignment, but if the synchronization of the texts is too many segments off, it is sometimes difficult to find the information one needs even when the (bilingual) document is opened from the context menu in a concordance window.

EUR-Lex offers bi- or tri-lingual views of most documents in a web page. The alignments are often imperfect, but the synchronization is usually off by only one or two segments, so finding the right text in a document's context is not terribly difficult. So these often imperfect alignments are usually quite adequate for use as references in a memoQ LiveDocs corpus. Here is a procedure one might follow to get the EUR-Lex data there.

The bilingual text of a view such as the one above can be selected by dragging the cursor to select the first part of the information, then scrolling to the bottom of the window and Shift+clicking to select all the text in both columns:

Copy this text, then paste it into Excel:

Then import the Excel file as a file for "translation" in a memoQ project with the right language settings. Because of quirks with data access in LiveDocs if the target language variants are specified and possibly not matched, I have created a "data conversion project" with generic language settings (DE + EN in my case as opposed to my usual DE-DE + EN-US project settings) to ensure that data stored in LiveDocs will be accessed without trouble from any project. (This irritating issue of language variants in LiveDocs was introduced a few version ago by Kilgray in an attempt to placate some large agencies, but it has caused enormous headaches for professional translators who work with multiple sublanguage settings. We hope that urgent attention will be given to this problem soon, and until then, keep your LiveDocs language data settings generic to ensure trouble-free data access!)

When the Excel file is added to the Translations file list, there are two important changes to make in the import options. First, the filter must be changed from Microsoft Excel to "multilingual delimited text" (which also handles multilingual Excel files!). Second, the filter configuration must be "changed" to specify which data is in the columns of interest.

The screenshot above shows the import settings that were appropriate for the data I copied from EUR-Lex. Your settings will likely differ, but in each case the values need to be checked or set in the fields near the arrows ("Source language" particularly at the top and the three dropdown menus by the second arrow below).

Once the data are imported, some adjustments can be made by splitting or joining segments, but I don't think the effort is generally worth it, because in the cases I have seen, data are not far out of sync if they are mismatched, and the synchronization is usually corrected after a short interval.

In the Translations list of the Project home, the bilingual text can be selected and added to a LiveDocs corpus using the menus or ribbons.

The screenshot below shows the worst location of badly synchronized data in the text I copied here:

This minor dislocation does not pose a significant barrier to finding the information I might need to read and understand when using this judgment as a reference. The document context is available from the context menu in the memoQ Concordance as well as the context menu of the entry appearing in the Translation results pane.

A similar data migration procedure can be implemented for most bilingual tables in HTML files, word processing files or other data sources by copying the data into Excel and using the multilingual delimited text filter.

Sep 14, 2015

French-English naval defense glossary published

Australian colleague Steve Dyson has published a new French-English glossary of terms for naval defense for technical journalists and translators, available in ePub format on His many decades of experience as a translator and technical writer associated with French defense industries cannot be transplanted into the brains that might need it, but this distillation is a valuable resource nonetheless.