in this or some other text; in documents with multiple and/or sloppy authors I might even find a mix of all these in the same text.
As I value consistency in writing even when the client might not care, I try to translate all of these to the same form in English where it makes sense to do so. That might be Figure 1 or Fig. 1 depending on the situation and the styleguide stipulated for the project.
But when I finish the 10,000 or so words for this job and need to do my final check before sending it to the client, I expect to be a little tired, and I want to use my attention and energy to focus on the accuracy and reading comfort of my translation. In doing so I tend to miss little details like the occurrence of "Fig. 1" on page 32 as opposed to "Figure 1" on the other 40 pages. That is why I use the QA feature of memoQ to check the consistency with which I have translated the figure references as well as other matters such as the accurate use of special terminology for the project.
The specific feature I use here for quality assurance is
an auto-translation rule set (aka "autotranslatables"), which is highlighted and selected in the screenshot of the project's settings above.
As I have stated many times before, autotranslatables should be used, but not created by the average translator. Aside from the fact that the regular expressions involved are not particularly easy even for most of the nerds among us, there are a lot of little subtleties that make the difference between a well-functioning rule set and annoying garbage, and even the "experts" struggle with this for sophisticated rules.
But the present example of Figure mapping is a comparatively simple case which can illustrate the principles and some of the "risks" to mere mortals.
My rule set for mapping figures from many German forms to a particular English form consists of a single rule.
All of the possibilities that I expect in German are compiled in a list, along with the English expression for each, and this translation pair list is named #figurelist# and is found on the corresponding dialog tab in the memoQ rule set editor for autotranslatables. (I usually edit rules externally in Notepad++ where I can comment them liberally, but in this case I felt no need to do so.) This named list is used as a variable in the regular expression for the rule to describe a source text match.
Jeepers. That regex for the source text looks complicated, doesn't it? Wouldn't (#figurelist#) \d+ be just as good? After all, it seems to work just fine. Well, except that the list would need a few extra entries to account for abbreviations with and without periods.
No. "(#figurelist#) \d+" is total, incompetent crap. Here are some reasons why:
- It is more efficient to express the possibility of a period after the text for "Figure" with the regex "\.?", because you'll never have to worry about abbreviations with or without periods in your lists. Mine will get longer, as I'll probably expand these rules to cover Portuguese as well and use the same rule for both Portuguese and German sources.
- There may or may not be a space or even extra spaces after the Figure expression. Simply typing a standard space after the (#figurelist#) group means that it must be present and it must be an ordinary space to match. If it's missing or someone typed a non-breaking space (a reasonable thing to do to keep both parts of "Figure 1" on the same line), the rule will not work! Using \s+? to express the possibility of 0 to n spaces after "Fig." or whatever is in fact the right way to go.
- If you test the "simple" crappy regex, you'll also find that "Abb. 14" gives to results: Figure 1 and Figure 14. That is because the rule does not stipulate that the second part must be a whole "word", so the substring match with the first character also gives a result. Bad, bad, bad. The chaos that this sort of mistake can cause with more complex rules like currency expressions used in important financial translations is frightening.
There are many ways in which regular expression rule sets can enhance the user experience and the quality of translation results when working in memoQ. It is not hard to use these rules, but it is beyond most users to create and maintain their own rule sets. Therefore
- Kilgray should include more useful examples of rule sets (in addition to the very helpful number rules) in future releases of memoQ
- The average user should ask the help of Kilgray Support for simple rules they need (in most cases this would fall under the usual commitment of paid support and maintenance for the year)
- memoQ users should work with Kilgray's Professional Services department or other competent consultants to devise robust rule sets to boost their translation and quality assurance productivity. Beware of casual advice found in forums or social media; much of it does not consider issues like the problems described above despite the aggressive insistence one might see for a particular "solution". Truly, you get what you pay for :-)