Useful ideas seldom develop in isolation, and to the extent that I can claim good practice in the use of assistive technologies for my translation work in legal and other domains it is largely the product of my interactions with many colleagues over the past seventeen years of commercial translation activity. These fine people have served as mentors, giving me my first exposure to the concepts of platform interoperability for translation tools, and as inspirations by sharing the many challenges they face in their work and clearly articulating the desired outcomes they hoped to achieve as professionals. They have also generously and frequently shared with me the solutions that they have found and have often unselfishly shared their ideas on how and why we should do better in our daily practice. And I am grateful that I can continue to learn with them, work better, and help others to do so as well.
A variety of tools for information management and transformation can benefit the work of a legal translator in areas which include but are not limited to:
- corpus utilization,
- text conversion,
- terminology management,
- diverse information retrieval,
- assisted drafting,
- dictated speech to text,
- quality assurance,
- version control and comparison, and
- source and target text review.
|An excerpt from a parallel corpus showing a treaty text in English, Portuguese and Spanish|
|A memoQ concordance search with a link to an "aligned" translation|
|A past translation and its preview stored in a memoQ LiveDocs corpus, accessed via concordance search|
|An excerpt of translated patent claims exported as a bilingual table for review|
|A patent glossary exported from memoQ and then made into a PDF dictionary via SDL Trados MultiTerm|
There are also many different ways that terminology can be shared dynamically in a team. Various terminology servers available usually suffer from being restricted to particular platforms, but freely available tools like Google Sheets coupled with web look-up interfaces and linked spreadsheets customized for importing into particular environments can be set up quickly and easily, with access restricted to a selected team.
If Google Sheets do not meet the confidentiality requirements of a particular situation, similar solutions can be designed using intranets, extranets, VPNs, etc.
Technical tools for translators can help to locate information in a great variety of environments and media in ways that usually integrate smoothly with their workflow. Some available tools enable glossaries and bilingual corpora to be accessed in any application, including word processors, presentation software and web pages.
Corpus information in translation memories, memoQ LiveDocs or external sources can be looked up automatically or in concordance searches based on whole or partial content matches or specified search terms, and then useful parts can be inserted into the target text to assist translation. In some cases, differences between a current source text and archived information is highlighted to assist in identifying and incorporating changes.
Structured information such as dates, currency expressions, legal citations and bibliographical references can also be prepared for simple keystroke insertion in the translated text or automated quality checking. This can save many frustrating hours of typing and copy revision. In this regard, memoQ currently offers the best options for translation with its "auto-translation" rulesets, but many tools offer rules-based QA facilities for checking structured information.
Voice recognition technologies offer ergonomically superior options for transcription in many languages and can often enable heavy translation workloads with short deadlines to be handled with greater ease, maintaining or even improving text quality. Experienced translators with good subject matter knowledge and voice recognition software skills can typically produce more finished text in a day than the best post-editing operations for machine pseudo-translation, with the exception that the text produced by human voice transcription is actually usable in most situations, while the "gloss" added to machine "translations" is at best lipstick on a pig.
Reviewing a text for errors is hard work, and a pressing deadline to file a brief doesn't make the job easier. Technical tools for translation enable tens of thousands of words of text to be scanned for particular errors in seconds or minutes, ensuring that dates and references are correct and consistent, that correct terminology has been used, et cetera.
When time is short and new versions of a source text may follow in quick succession, technology offers possibilities to identify differences quickly, automatically process the parts which remain unchanged and keep everything on track and on schedule.
For all its myriad features, good translation technology cannot replace human knowledge of language and subject matter. Those claiming the contrary are either ignorant or often have a Trumpian disregard for the truth and common sense and are all too eager to relieve their victims of the burdens of excess cash without giving the expected value in exchange.
Technologies which do not assist translation experts to work more efficiently or with less stress in the wide range of challenges found in legal translation work are largely useless. This really does include machine pseudo-translation (MpT). The best “parts” of that swindle are essentially the corpus matching for translation memory archives and corpora found in CAT tools like memoQ or SDL Trados Studio, and what is added is often incorrect and dangerously liable to lead to errors and misinterpretations. There are also documented, damaging effects on one’s use of language when exposed to machine pseudo-translation for extended periods.
Legal translation professionals today can benefit in many ways from technology to work better and faster, but the basis for this remains what it was ten, twenty, forty or a hundred years ago: language skill and an understanding of the law and legal procedure. And a good, sound, well-rested mind.
Speech recognitionDragon NaturallySpeaking: https://www.nuance.com/dragon.html
Tiago Neto on applications: https://tiagoneto.com/tag/speech-recognition
Translation Tribulations – free mobile for many languages: http://www.translationtribulations.com/2015/04/free-good-quality-speech-recognition.html
Circuit Magazine - The Speech Recognition Revolution: http://www.circuitmagazine.org/chroniques-128/des-techniques
The Chronicle - Speech Recognition to Go: http://www.atanet.org/chronicle-online/highlights/speech-recognition-to-go/
The Chronicle - Speech Recognition Is in Your Back Pocket (or Wherever You Keep Your Mobile Phone): http://www.atanet.org/chronicle-online/none/speech-recognition-is-in-your-back-pocket-or-wherever-you-keep-your-mobile-phone/
Document indexing, search tools and techniquesArchivarius 3000: http://www.likasoft.com/document-search/
Copernic Desktop Search: https://www.copernic.com/en/products/desktop-search/
AntConc concordance: http://www.laurenceanthony.net/software/antconc/
Multiple, separate concordances with memoQ: http://www.translationtribulations.com/2014/01/multiple-separate-concordances-with.html
memoQ TM Search Tool: http://www.translationtribulations.com/2014/01/the-memoq-tm-search-tool.html
memoQ web search for images: http://www.translationtribulations.com/2016/12/getting-picture-with-automated-web.html
Upgrading translation memories for document context: http://www.translationtribulations.com/2015/08/upgrading-translation-memories-for.html
Free shareable, searchable glossaries with Google Sheets: http://www.translationtribulations.com/2016/12/free-shareable-searchable-glossaries.html
Auto-translation rules for formatted text (dates, citations, etc.)Translation Tribulations, various articles on specifications, dealing with abbreviations & more:
Marek Pawelec, regular expressions in memoQ: http://wasaty.pl/blog/2012/05/17/regular-expressions-in-memoq/