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.

Sep 22, 2018

Technology for legal and financial translation: lecture video

memoQfest 2018, held this year in Budapest from May 31 to June 1, was a great event as I noted in my recent discussion of how Kilgray – or rather "memoQ" as the company is now called – is on track with changes to the product and additions to its development and support teams in the broadest sense. This year, I spoke on some of the benefits of technology in general and memoQ technology in particular for translating specialists for law and finance. This was, in part, an abbreviated and updated version of my talk last year at the translation program in Buenos Aires University's law faculty and it is of course simply an overview of possibilities with some examples. This is a subject which could easily make up a full course for a semester or year, and in less than an hour one can only discuss a few bones of the concept, much less the full skeleton or the vital and varied body of modern practice.

The recording of the talk was released recently on the memoQ YouTube channel, so here it is embedded for those who missed it and want to see what was said:

I'll be giving a similar talk at the end of this in Valencia, Spain at IAPTI's international conference this year, though from a little different perspective. I hope to meet some of you there.

Sep 21, 2018

Free TM source file data information utility

Just yesterday I was chatting with an Egyptian colleague about an interesting conference to be held in Cairo next April, and he told me how his wife sometimes gets annoyed with him because he gives away so much information. (I am a big beneficiary of his generosity, and some of the best improvements in recent presentations I've given are techniques I have taken directly from him.)

I've been criticized the same way for most of my life, but I've usually found that information shared freely in the right spirit can often feed more people than a bit of bread and some fish, and the occasional dividends that come back are often delightful surprises.

So it was today. I received a nice e-mail from a reader of this blog, who wanted to share a custom tool for which he had commissioned the development to solve a particular troublesome challenge. His letter is posted below along with a download link for this tool and an explanation of what it does. I hope that some will derive unexpected benefits from this.


Hi Kevin,

I've been using memoQ for a year, and some of your posts on Translation Tribulations have helped me do things and solve problems with memoQ that I wouldn't have been able to solve otherwise. So I want to give back to you and all your readers.

I commissioned from the great Stanislav Ohkvat, the author of TransTools, a program to automatically extract the names of all documents contained in a TM. Add ".exe" to the end of the link below to download.

My particular use case is that my colleague reviews my work and sends it back to me for adding to the Master TM, while also adding it to his own Master TM. He also sends me all documents he translates himself, and I review them, adding them to my own TM. However, I recently noticed our Master TMs differed by around 7k segments, meaning we forgot to share a few documents between us.

Rather than tediously sifting through tens of thousands of segments and manually copying the document names, the script does it for us.

I give you full permission to post it on your blog as you see fit.


Érico Carvalho
Pharmacist and translator-subtitler for BNN Medical Translations
Working languages: Brazilian Portuguese to English & vice-versa, Spanish to English, Spanish to Brazilian Portuguese
Specializes in: Clinical Protocols, Informed Consent Forms, Investigator's Brochures, Video Subtitling

Sep 14, 2018

Webinar: Sichere Basis-Workflows in memoQ (am 17.10.2018)

Nach dem Webinar über Auto-Übersetzungsregeln in memoQ, geht die deutsche Vortragsserie nun am 17. Oktober weiter mit einer praktischen Einführung in sichere, umfassende Basisverfahren für typische Projekte auf dem lokalen Rechner. Schritt für Schritt wird gezeigt, wie man bei einem größeren Projekt vorgehen kann, um Probleme zu vermeiden und wichtige Ressourcen zu erstellen und pflegen.

In den geplanten zwei Stunden dieser kostenlosen Präsentation, werden Sie u.a. erfahren wie
  • die technische Machbarkeit einer Lieferung der Übersetzungsergebnisse bestätigt wird,
  • der Umfang des Textes sicher geprüft und bestätigt wird,
  • wichtige Kundenressourcen im Projekt vielleicht besser eingesetzt werden können, 
  • die häufige Sonderterminologie im Projekt ermittelt werden kann,
  • neue Textversionen während der Arbeit effizient in die Bearbeitung einfliessen können, 
und einiges mehr.

Das Webinar findet am 17. Oktober 2018 um 15 Uhr MEZ statt und läuft bis zu 2 Stunden. Die Teilnahme ist kostenlos, aber registrierungspflichtig. Registrieren können Sie sich hier.

Falls Sie sich für weitere memoQ-Onlineschulungen interessieren, geht es hier zu der relevanten Umfrage.

Sep 11, 2018

Adding time codes to YouTube videos

For years now, I have advocated the use of tables of contents for long instructional videos, recorded webinars and suchlike. I saw these in a few instances, but it was never clear how the indices were produced, so I suggested merely writing a list of relevant points and their play times and scrolling manually. Understandably, not many adopted this suggestion.

Then I discovered that my video editor (Camtasia) could create tables of contents for a video automatically when creating a local file, an upload to YouTube or other exports if timeline markers were added at relevant points. The only disadvantage for me with this approach was the limit on the length of the descriptive text attached to the markers. Worse than Twitter in the old days.

But when I accidentally added a marker I didn't want and removed it from the YouTube video description (which is where a TOC resides on YouTube), I saw that things were much simpler than I imagined. And a little research with tutorials made by others confirmed that any time code written at the beginning of a line in the video's description will become a clickable link to that time in the video.

So I've begun to go through some of my old videos with a text editor opened along side. When the recording gets to a point that I want to include in the table of contents, I simply pass the cursor over the video, take note of the time, and then write that time code into the text file along with a description of any length.

Afterward, I simply paste the contents of that text file into the description field in YouTube's editor. When the Save button at the top right is clicked, the new description for the video will be active, and viewers can use the index to jump to the points they want to see. Because only a few lines of the description text are visible by default, I include a hint at the beginning of the text to let people know that the live table of contents is available if they click the SEE MORE link.

If Kilgray, SDL, Wordfast and others involved with the language services sector would adopt techniques like this for their copious recorded content on the Web, the value and accessibility of this content would increase enormously. It would also be very simple then to create hot links to important points in other environments (PowerPoint slides, PDF files, etc.) to help people get to the information they need to learn better.

Not to do this would truly be a great waste and a shame in many cases.

Sep 8, 2018

Editing inline tag content in memoQ

The topic of accessing and editing translatable text in tags comes up from time to time. I thought I had published instructions on this topic some time ago, but when a tech-savvy colleague who always does a proper search before asking questions couldn't find it, nor could yours truly, I concluded that it was time for another tutorial video. So here it is:

The video post on YouTube includes a hot-linked table of contents that will enable you to jump to key parts of the tutorial. This is a very simple function to implement with "markers" in Camtasia, and I recommend that those who make tutorials of any significant length or who post recorded webinars consider implementing such tables of contents to facilitate finding particular parts of interest without endless hit-and-miss searching in a long video.

Sep 2, 2018

Getting independence right: as simple as ABC!

There's been a bit of a buzz lately in professional language service circles regarding a recent ruling by California's Supreme Court, which establishes a new, simplified standard to determine independent contractor status. For example, the corporate interest blog Slator reported on the panic among large language brokerage firms sometimes known for predatory and abusive practices with the companies and individuals whom they contact to provide services, while independent interpreter Tony Rosado offered an interesting perspective on how the ruling can have a positive impact on independent professionals in his field and, I dare say, independent translators as well.

The Court's decision established the "ABC" criteria as the new standard for distinguishing employees from independent contractors:
A) The individual must be free from the control and direction by the hiring entity with regard to the performance of the work, under the terms of the contract for the performance of this work and in fact. 
B) The individual must perform work which is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business. 
C) The individual is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed for the hiring entity.
Failure to meet all three criteria will lead to a finding that the individual is an employee and is therefore not an independent contractor.

Now you might say – correctly – that California is a long way from New York, London, Paris, Berlin and Rome, what has that got to do contractor conditions there? A lot.

Over the past three and a half decades, since the rape and pillage of unions and workers rights in general began by the rapacious disciples of Ronald Reagan, a system of work and service practices has evolved which I think could fairly be called social strip-mining. (After I wrote this term, I wondered if others have used it as well, and found, unsurprisingly, that this obvious analogy has occurred to quite a number of people.) Very few of the present practices by large corporate providers of language services (interpreting, translation, writing and editing) are in fact sustainable.

Like strip mining companies tearing down a mountain and utterly destroying its ecology of flora and fauna, polluting waters underground and on the surface nearby as well as other ecosystems, companies like Lionbridge, thebigword, TransPerfect, RWS/Moravia and others and their downstream companies in the service sewer put the squeeze on individuals at the end of their corporate digestive system to extract maximum resources for minimum benefit in a manner which often cannot sustain the living of the writers, editors, translator, interpreters and other service workers at the butt end of things. These individuals may cling for some time to their desperate situation as an alternative to prostitution or delivering pizzas, but there is very little incentive and few resources provided for them to develop as professionals and acquire greater skills to deliver greater value with time.

Some, like abused children, learn the lesson of what the abusers can get away with and continue the cycle on small and large scales, outsourcing or even founding new companies with similar practices.

In truth, nobody is well-served by these practices on the end customer side – the individuals, companies and government bodies who contract with the intermediaries for services provided by individual interpreters, translators, editors, etc. – nor on the end-provider side – those very interpreters, translators, editors, etc. And in the middle? "Growth" seems to derive largely from acquisition and from refinement of their marketing deceptions (many in the bulk market bog of language services have SEO-tuned web pages designed to capture searches for independent individual service providers), not so much from actual organic growth of internal service and quality offered. Price dumping practices are also common; many small service companies are unable to compete with "loss leader" prices to end customers which are lower than those they pay to real independent service providers of good professional business standing.

None of these abusive practices are new; they have been known in many forms throughout the modern history of labor starting more or less in the early 19th century. These practices ultimately led to the rise of unions and bodies of protective legislation in the past, so it is not surprising that some have called for "unionization" of international service providers. ("Workers of the world, unite!", anyone?) But these well-meaning calls for unions of interpreters and translators are not really practical in most situations. So many say there is nothing to be done.

Wrong. The California Supreme Court decision points the way toward ending the worst of corporate abuses of individuals providing service by creating a situation in which the true costs of these services are emphasized in the relationship with the service provider. There is nothing standing in the way of companies like Lionbridge or much smaller companies from increasing salaried staff to write, translate, interpret, etc. under local statutory conditions for ordinary employment. To the extent they find this impractical, these companies can contract with other companies or with individuals who meet the ABC criteria.

Such a requirement would also give a fair break to those companies who do in fact invest in the socioeconomic maintenance and professional development of their employees providing service to end customers. Under current practices, these good companies are unfairly disadvantaged by laws and regulatory practices which now permit these service strip-miners to operate as they do. Local and national governments would also benefit from and increase of benefit payments from registered employees or from taxes assessed on work transactions which fail the ABC test.

In the environment of expanding globalized trade and sophisticated corporate shell games to avoid tax liabilities, enforcement of necessary and proper good social practice at the "source" – the intermediate provider level or at the end customer level where there is a direct relationship between a company or government body with a presumed independent service provider – is perhaps the most practical way to accomplish some of the reforms needed on a global scale.

Aug 24, 2018

Webinar: Auto-Übersetzungsregeln in memoQ - Planung, Anwendung und Pflege (am 12.09.2018)

Der Vortrag wurde aufgenommen und ist hier verfügbar.

Auto-Übersetzungsregeln gehören zu den nützlichsten, kaum benutzten Aspekten der memoQ-Arbeitsumgebung. Mit Hilfe dieser Regeln kann man unter anderem viel Zeit bei der Gestaltung und Qualitätssicherung musterbasierter Texte sparen, zum Beispiel bei Datumsangaben, bibliografischen Informationen, rechtliche Referenzangabe,Währungsausdrücken usw.

Diese Regeln basieren auf regulären Ausdrücken, aber solche Kompetenzen sind für ihren effektiven Einsatz nicht unbedingt vorausgesetzt. Viel wichtiger ist es, die geeignete Erfassung der Basisinformationen zu verstehen, sowie mögliche Variationen im Ausgangstext, damit technische Ressourcen für Erstellung und Pflege gezielt und richtig anzuwenden werden können.

Die geplanten zwei Stunden dieser kostenlosen Präsentation beinhalten Beispiele häufiger Anwendungsgebiete für den praktischen Einsatz dieser Technologie in der Übersetzung mit memoQ. Um die vorgeführten Inhalte üben und anwenden zu können, sind folgende Elemente notwendig bzw. empfohlen:
  • eine aktuelle memoQ-Lizenz (ohne funtioniert nichts!)
  • die kostenlose Software Notepad++ (stark empfohlen)
  • ein tabellenfähiges Textprogramm, wie z.B. Microsoft Word, Google Docs oder der OpenOffice-Editor 

Das Webinar findet am 12. September 2018 um 15 Uhr MEZ statt und läuft bis zu 2 Stunden. Die Teilnahme ist kostenlos, aber registrierungspflichtig. Der Erwerb brauchbarer Exemplare der vorgeführten Anwendungsbeispiele bzw. persönlich angepasster Versionen ist auch nachher möglich.

Falls Sie sich für weitere memoQ-Onlineschulungen interessieren, geht es hier zu der relevanten Umfrage.

Aug 22, 2018

The Case of the Missing Puerto Rico Blog Post

"Say goodbye to your friends in Russia, hello to the FBI!"

On September 20th, 2017, Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, with winds of 250 kph. The resulting destruction of lives and infrastructure was shocking, but even more shocking was the lack of response by the US government and others to the humanitarian disaster on American soil.

In the aftermath, translator and interpreter Heidi Cazes-Sevilla, who is based on the island, inspired me and many other friends and colleagues with her tales of human courage and help for neighbors on the ground where so many died or saw their property and lives blown into ruin.

The many pictures she sent me nearly a year ago (those above are just a small part from her tour of Hell) trickled slowly over a low-bandwidth connection via her mobile phone. Her many updates from before and after the storm kept us on edge worrying about her and so many others trapped in the storm's path.
Going to sleep. 12:30 amStill calm in Puerto Rico.A bit of rain, sort of a drizzle. We still have power, wifi, cable. 
Just heard the 11:00 pm update. No real change.Maria's hurricane force winds will enter the southeast of the island at about 8 am at 175mph, and will exit northeast at 8 pm. 
From the current trajectory, we will be getting either the eye of the storm, or just the eyewall. 
Our house is in a safe area, not floodable, not too high, surrounded by some elevation which might protect us. Also, it is a neighborhood where houses are closeby, also protecting each other... It is built of concrete cinder blocks, ALL its walls. That means it is sort of a bunker, with some areas which are bunkers within the bunker. It won't be confortable probably, but I am sure we will weather the storm. 
See you all tomorrow again, after the storm, hoping we have at least some cellular coverage. 
Sharing hurricane advice from my friend Alma:
My lawyer can't never get out of me, even in crisis. Here some tips:
1) take photos of your property prior to hurricane, for insurance claim purposes.
2) take away any decorations or devices from yard which might become projectiles. If something happens with any of your belongings, which could have been prevented, you will be responsible.
3) don't to
uch any cables on floor, even if it seems like not a live wired.
4) take your animals into your home or to safe ground. Leaving an animal behind, its breaking the law, because it's animal abuse.
5) don't go outside in the middle of the storm to check what's going on. Even when the eye of the hurricane brings a deceiving calmness.
6) don't block entrances of homes by any means, particularly cars.
7) be aware with the emergency, the prices on gas and basic essentials are frozen by the government. So if a store wants to overcharge, report them to the authorities.
8)keep some cash with you, because banks will be closed and atms won't work.
9) filled you car tank, you might not have gas in a while.
10) if you are an employer, pay your employees today, not because of the law but for moral reasons.
11) any other observations from fellow lawyers are welcome.

Hello all! 
Thank you for your messages of support!
Day 2 and doing ok. Connectivity is still iffy, only thanks to AT&T. We can connect via phone, slow whatsapp and sometimes messenger. Internet still very sporadic.
Impressive seeing how neighbors gather round for cleanup, clearing trees and obstacles from the way. Will post pictures later, how people got rid of huge trees and posts blocking access to another neighborhood.
All we know is what we see around home and hear from neighbors. Most of my information on situation here has come by phone or messages from outside PR, or the crazy access to internet and FB. 
One radio staTion which most of the time only says they are the only station transmitting... that's all..
Please post any information you read, just text, not links, so we can be informed. 
I learned of curfew from my son in Philly, about hurricane path from my son in Boston, that airport is opening toncommercial flights on Sat pm, too.
We are starved for information!
We are fine, let's see what tomorrow brings...

I want to share what my friend Carol Terry wrote. It perfectly reflects life in PR these weeks...
I'm just getting back in touch with the outside world as I have internet on my phone at home today, and although I had missed being connected, now I realize more directly how sad our situation is islandwide. I lost power the day before the hurricane and our communications have been down ever since so I didn't even know what path María had taken after battering PR or how extensive the damages were locally. After the hurricane you have so much work to do in your own home and community that you can't even begin to focus on the rest of the people. And if you're a parent of small children, that limits you even more because you must protect and feed them first.
Gasoline is more readily available now which has helped a lot. Before that you didn't even want to drive your car for fear of waiting in line 5 to 12 hours to get gas.
Then little things start to happen that give you some hope (a small sector got power back, a friend brought you water...) and you keep pushing forward one day at a time.
Note: If you are ever under hurricane warning, make sure you have enough food and water for 2 weeks ( they say 3 days, but that is totally insufficient).
As a small island, Puerto Rico is completely crippled. No power, so huge demand for fuels (which can only be imported by boat). You feel anxious, hopeless, scared, tired, hungry, thirsty, but you also wake up stronger everyday.
We have water (at least sometimes) now and we have a generator at night (which I am even ashamed to mention because I know most people here don't have one). You stand in line at the store to find empty shelves. No water (still) and it's overwhelming and terrifying. I don't only speak for myself. This is the current status of MILLIONS of U.S. Citizens, but, hey, we have paper towels, right?
Sorry for the sarcasm, but when you don't have water to drink, a role of paper towels doesn't do much for you.
HOWEVER, we are extremely thankful for the help we hear is being sent to PR and all the stateside personnel who have come to help. I can guarantee our struggle is real and not something we brought onto ourselves. This hurricane has devastated Puerto Rico. I could leave and go elsewhere, but I would be turning my back on this beautiful island and its people who have always been so wonderful to me ever since I stepped on Puerto Rican soil❤ We will come back stronger, but it will take some time.
I don't think I will ever be the same after this ordeal. I have learned and grown a great deal in the past couple of weeks. This only makes me love Puerto Rico more. The people make the difference.

Conversation with a nurse about how she fared with Maria. Thursday, a week and a day after the storm.
She tells me that her husband works in air rescue, so he was away, both for Irma and for Maria. So as she was alone with her daughter, she decided to pass the storm downstairs with her in-laws. After all, winds are worse on higher floors.
The house complies with the building code, so basically all they passed through was the awful experience of the storm passing, and some water coming in. She told me that the winds were terrible, that the different sounds of the storm were terrifying, that it seemed as if the storm was talking to her. She told me that there was a storm shutter that could be moved, and she could look outside and see the storm passing. She told me she decided to take her 5 year old daughter to that window and let her see the storm, because this is "something historic." She told me that she remembers when Hugo came, she was about 7, and her mother made her look out and see the storm, because it was "something historic."
She told me that she has an uncle who was one of the people who died during the hurricane. She said that he lived out in the country with his wife. She told me that when the winds were at their strongest, it seemed that the house's door was about to burst open, so he went outside to strengthen it. She told me he was not a healthy man, and he always used oxygen. When he came back into the house, he was exhausted. He lay down on his wife's lap to rest, and passed.
She told me that area was completely incommunicated. There was no phone, and also no way to get there through the destruction. Her aunt was alone in that house for 2 days with her husband until someone was able to reach her. After that, it took an additional day to be able to remove the body. Nobody knew what to do. It was only until two police officers came, saw the dire situation and took special care, that the remains were taken away.
She told me that her uncle was buried yesterday. They could not have a "velorio" or wake after all that time, and he was buried wearing what he wore when he was born. Nothing could be done about it. After all, it was urgent to bury him, as so long had passed, with the heat and the humidity...
She told me she learned about the funeral because she got a message on her cell to call a pharmacy. The "licenciado" -someone from the pharmacy- gave her the news about the death and the funeral. As there were no phones, the pharmacy became the communication center for that town.
She told me she feels terrible for her aunt. She cannot imagine what she went through those two days. She is sure she will need psychological help.

A dam has failed and caused "extremely dangerous" flooding on Puerto Rico's Guajataca river in the wake of Hurricane Maria, authorities say.
The National Weather Service (NWS) said buses were "currently evacuating people from the area as quickly as they can".
At least 13 people have died on the US territory since Maria ripped through Puerto Rico, devastating homes and knocking out the island's electricity.
The island's governor has called it the worst storm in a century.
Operators of the Guajataca Dam said the dam, located at the northern end of Lake Guajataca in northwest Puerto Rico, failed at 14:10 local time (18:10 GMT).
It sparked a flash flood emergency for Isabela and Quebradillas municipalities, the NWS said in a series of tweets.
The agency urged residents in the area to "move to higher ground now" in an alert posted on its website.
"This is an extremely dangerous and life-threatening situation. Do not attempt to travel unless you are fleeing an area subject to flooding or under an evacuation order," the alert said.
Hurricane Maria, a category three storm, is now moving away from the Turks and Caicos Islands and is expected to head to the northeast and east of the Bahamas over the weekend, forecasters say.
It has claimed more than 30 lives across the region, and is the second devastating storm to hit the Caribbean this hurricane season - the first being category five Irma earlier in September.
Maria caused widespread destruction on the small island of Dominica, where it flattened homes, destroyed buildings and cut off telecommunications when it hit on Monday night.
At least 15 people have died and 20 others are missing on Dominica after the tempest, according to the Caribbean island's Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit.
"It has been brutal," he said on Thursday on the nearby island of Antigua. "We've never seen such destruction."
Puerto Rico's Governor Ricardo Rossello described the hurricane as "the most devastating storm in a century".
He said Maria had hit the island's electricity grid so badly that it could take months to restore power.
Images shared on social media show roofs being stripped away as winds as strong as 140mph (225km/h) whipped trees and power lines in Puerto Rico's capital city, San Juan.
US President Donald Trump said the storm had "totally obliterated" the US territory, and pledged to visit Puerto Rico.
He has yet to declare the island a disaster area but has made federal emergency aid available.
Sort of not too publicly, and hedging the language, Puerto Rican Government Acknowledges Hurricane Maria Death Toll of 1,427
“Mr. Cerame acknowledged that the final version of the report hedges the language to say that the additional deaths “may or may not be attributable” to the storm; the 1,427 figure was also deleted from a chart.”
From the NY Times...
It is hard to believe that 13 days after Maria, supplies have not reached areas beyond the metropolitan area. And communication is also still come and go. (There is still no cell signal on the road west to Dorado beyond Rio Hondo, on km. 5)
Not even towns that are along main expressways, that have been open to traffic from the first days!! Forget about remote towns up on the hills, with access through winding rouds that used to be surrounded by lush vegetation...
And with the difficulty of getting gas, even people who live on accessible roads cannot afford the risk of driving into the metro area and not being able to return.
This is terrible!!

The copied messages above (only some of what Heidi shared) are in no particular order, scrambled as if by the winds and left disordered, because nearly one year past the event I really, still, cannot process what has happened. Not the natural disaster itself, which is one of many to break lives and hearts in my lifetime, many of which have much higher death tolls than the indeterminate thousands who died in Puerto Rico and the many more who continue to suffer the consequences of the hurricane unaided.

It's that last part. Unaided.

I remember the phrase "united we stand" from my school days, and by and large over the course of my life I have seen good domestic responses to natural disasters in the country of my birth.

There are many stories about the state of things in Puerto Rico now. Most of the island has power again I am told. But much of what one reads still reflects the neglect and deliberate denial of basic human rights to the US citizens and others on that island.

There are disasters in the United States of America right now which make the gale force of a hurricane seem like a pitiful fart when one considers their implications for peace, stability and prosperity worldwide. Puerto Rico and the tribulations of its good people are merely collateral damage, alas.

For nearly a year I've been unable to write that blog post I wanted to, lauding the courage and perseverance of my fellow citizens in Puerto Rico. These are no less praiseworthy for my continuing inability to write that post. I think of them, with some guilt, rather often, though they compete for attention with many other tragedies of children - even babies - ripped from their parents' arms at the US border and worse. So much worse.

Translators Without Borders - that notorious charity-washing operation is silent so far as I can tell, perhaps because the bog-dwelling corporations and their associates behind it fear derailing their gravy train by angering the Cheeto in Chief. Probably no profit to be discerned by its members from recycling donated human resources.

We owe a debt to Puerto Rico and to so many others who suffer; it is interest on all the times we ourselves have been aided in manners known and not known when we faced overwhelming challenges. How that debt is to be paid is for each individual to decide, though at a national level the guidelines for this are much clearer and the obligations are clearly not being met in Puerto Rico and at the US border with Mexico and at other points of entry to what was once known as The Land of the Free.

Stand fast. Do what you can when you can. And do not give ground to tyranny and stupidity, much less to raw criminality. We are at war in this world, and although the usual confusion of battlefields can obscure the action and the roles, it is clear that the unholy union of RepubliKKKan greed and Russian ambition centered in Washington D.C. represents a base evil which undermines much of what civilized countries at their best can stand for.

I liked very much the comment of Texan candidate for the US Senate "Beto" O'Rourke when he said that he was not running against his opponent nor against the fake president of the country. He is running for the Senate, for the people of his state, for the good of the country. Let's keep a positive eye on the prize. As for those others: they can run, run for office, run to the arms of their Kremlin masters or other partners in international crime. But they can't hide.

The Five Million Euro Translator

It's always nice when clients understand the value of your work. So I was pleased this morning to receive the following proposal from one of my oldest and dearest clients, who has stuck with me through thick and thin for some 16 years now:

It's always a pleasure to hear from old friends and clients, especially from those who pay fair rates - something I'm told is an increasingly rare phenomenon these days. I have a bad habit of forgetting to raise rates on old clients, so much so that sometimes they become embarrassed by how cheap I am compared to less qualified alternatives, so from time to time they simply offer increases themselves to overcome a sense of personal embarrassment.

My friend's agency has been doing rather well lately, so I had contemplated sending her a notice of rate increase, maybe to celebrate my upcoming birthday or Christmas. But Mrs. Klaus apparently decided that Christmas would come early this year when she jacked my word rate up to more than €798 per word. The total compensation for the job amounts to about €5.3 million for about 5 days' work that I can do in a day if I push myself. So the next time someone asks me for my "best rate" on a project, I have a new benchmark to quote :-)

For quite a few years now, the Poverty Cult of translators has whined that rates are in decline and that one cannot make a good living as a translator. I beg to differ. But success as a translator requires the right mix of skills, persistence and superior branding. Take it from the expert. Me.

Yours truly,

The Five Million Euro Translator

Aug 16, 2018

Survey on memoQ training in German

For some years now I have heard a steady stream of complaints from colleagues and clients about the availability and quality of memoQ instruction in the German language. There are of course a few excellent offerings of a general nature - usually for raw beginners - from some trainers I've known and respected for nearly two decades now, but there isn't a lot for users who need to go farther, particularly in some important specialist fields.

For nearly a decade now I have offered to assist the largest professional organization for language service providers in the German world (BDÜ) with filling this gap, but peculiar politics and strong input from SDL Trados partisans have prevented anything from happening. My recent acquisition of a long-term license for the Zoom conferencing platform and the positive experiences I have had with this tool for private and public teaching now put me in a position to deal with this without the nonsense of association and corporate politics.

So in September (date and topic to be announced) I will offer a first online workshop for German-speaking memoQ users. To aid in identifying topics of greatest interest for this and possible other talks I have put together a small survey in German (embedded below in this post - note that the embedded frame scrolls to view all questions in the survey - and also available at to get an idea of the potential audience's position with memoQ and its training interests and needs. Please pass this around among our DACH colleagues and others in the translating germanophone world.

Jul 19, 2018

On track with changes in memoQ

After a two-year break I decided to attend memoQ Fest again this year. I had burned out a bit on memoQ as a working environment in 2015 because of the slow resolution of many problems associated with the transition from traditional application menus to the awful, space-stealing Microsoft-style ribbons... bugs remained unresolved for so long in fact that I released my last book (New Beginnings with memoQ) with a "beta" designation and then months later simply withdrew it from the market because it seemed that no fixes were in sight. And then at the beginning of 2017 as things with memoQ 2015 (7.8) had stabilized to an acceptable degree, memoQ 8.0 (Adriatic) was released with a dog's breakfast of foolish interface changes and new bugs. The two minor releases that followed (8.1 and 8.2) deepened the muck, not the least by introducing new and very broken tracked changes features. Dark days indeed in which experienced users generally stuck desperately to the only really reliable release of memoQ that Kilgray still supported (7.8).

And then last autumn there was a perceptible inflection point in the memoQ development trajectory. The 8.3 release still had the awful new match comparison and other confusions, but it was unusually stable for a new release. And it dealt with some long-standing issues while introducing some improved term-handling features. Improvements in terminology handling continued in the version that followed, and stability increased with each minor release - a phenomenon nearly unheard of with any CAT tool I know. Whether it's memoQ, SDL Trados Studio or another tool, new releases are usually painful experiences with a lot of bug bites, but Kilgray seems to have discovered some new secret of pest control in software development. With memoQ 8.4 and 8.5 I have actually been able to recommend upgrades very near the release date, which past experience taught me is usually not a professionally wise thing to do. Whatever the memoQ team is doing now, I hope they keep it up, because this is the kind of stability and reliability that is needed in critical business applications and which is seldom delivered on schedule by any company.

Adding to that, the latest version of memoQ has restored the old (and better) match comparison feature and other aspects of productivity that went missing when the 8.x series first hit the street. I still have my usual long wish list of improvements and features, but at the moment the only big objection I still have to memoQ's feature set is the limitations of its image transcription module for handling graphics with a lot of text. Something closer to Fluency's approach to transcription would be helpful.

With all the encouraging things happening with the translation environment I depend on, I decided to go to Budapest this year and meet the new team members who were contributing to many of these improvements and to catch up with old friends and colleagues who have contributed so much to improving my productivity and professional satisfaction for many years. memoQ Fest is inevitably a good event no matter how good or bad its published program sounds; the gathering of talent, brains and outright decent people in the memoQ community means that it's probably impossible not to have a good time and learn a lot of useful things in the sessions, breaks and after-hours events. This year's 10th anniversary of memoQ Fest exceeded all my expectations in every aspect.

I was extremely pleased to see the progress made with the integrated speech recognition feature suggested three years ago after investigations begun by David Hardisty and others, and to listen to the new design and education teams about approaches to future development, support and training. I'm even a little excited, which is an unusual thing given the cynicism that nearly half a century of working with software has embedded in my brain.

There are so many interesting things happening now in the memoQ world: not just speech recognition, but major ongoing improvements to terminology handling, subtitling, easier QA control... the list goes on, and the importance of any item on it will depend, of course, on the nature of an individual translator's or other service provider's work and clientele. But, really, it's not about the features. It's the people. And I think that the combined quality of the team behind the creation and support of memoQ software and the superb, mutually supportive professionals in the user community remains unbeatable for a secure professional present and a promising future in #xl8.

Lots of tasty tidbits in the latest memoQ!

Jun 25, 2018

OmegaT: free CAT tool, free webinar

Click this graphic for more information and registration....

Didier Briel, current project manager of the Open Source OmegaT CAT tool, will discuss what makes this language service community resource unique, how it can enable you to work together comfortably in teams with others who use different tools (interoperability) and other interesting matters.

Have a look and see if this is the versatile, multi-platform tool you've been looking for!

IAPTI Brings the Translation Revolution to Spain on September 28-30, 2018!

The infamous Renato Beninatto once referred to them as the Taliban of the language services world because of their ardent refusal to endorse the worst practices in translation and interpreting with which unscrupulous people hope to transform those professions into an "industry" to grind out ever cheaper and less palatable linguistic sausage. Thus the term LSP ("Linguistic Sausage Purveyor") which the bottom-dwellers of the bulk market bog so proudly embrace and claim as their own.
I mean, what else can you say about an organization that counts Noam Chomsky as one of its honored and honorary members? The stated mission and objectives of the International Association of Translators and Interpreters (IAPTI) seem to many to be beyond the scope of your usual professional organization in the language sector. If its members were all black, I suppose the term uppity would be applied often in some corporate and political power centers. Like all of us, they do sometimes fall short of their lofty goals, but as one angel commented when God cheated and pulled back Faust's immortal soul from its deserved descent into Eternal Fire,

I wasn't quite sure what to make of IAPTI in its early days; the mention of its name tended to cause excess, foamy salivation among the more staunchly neoliberal of my professional acquaintances; the concepts of international solidarity and fairness seemed so out of place in the world I knew, where the BDÜ kept a sharp eye out for cross-border incursions from colleagues in France or Poland. There was an unsettling whiff of Marxist flatulence in the air at times, though I knew a number of the organization's most active members and they seemed like reasonable, personable sorts, though they did exhibit a disturbing lack of faith in the force majeure of the large international organizations who, reminiscent of a mafia extending its influence in the neighborhood, are increasingly taking the place of smaller translation firms who know and serve their local markets or specialized clientele well.

And—Heaven forefend!—they allow no corporate membership nor are they open to the influence, much less the control of interests promoting the reduction of professional work to the unergonomic slavery of corporate post-editing of machine pseudo-translation (PEMpT) unlike, for example, the American Translators Association which seems rather eager to bend (over) their planning to accommodate conference schedules with such interests. 

On September 29-30, 2018 IAPTI will hold its international language services conference in Europe once again, in the beautiful city of Valencia, Spain. A fitting venue, I think, in a country with a long history of struggle over basic questions of decency, dignity and centralization versus local control, questions which, as recent events in Catalonia have shown us, remain to be resolved.

I attended an IAPTI conference for the first time four years ago against the violent (!) opposition of some, and I was surprised to find that even the most "radical" of its members were actually rather sober folk who took the time to research important questions carefully and who believed that the complicated effort to find a fair balance for all parties involved with language services—translators, interpreters, facilitators and service consumers—is worthwhile. I joined, and from time to time I contribute my voice to the internal democratic debate on how best to serve a very diverse international community of colleagues and help them carry out their personal and professional missions in a better way.

So this year, once again, I will be one of a number presenting ideas for how to traverse our professional and political landscape in a secure, competent and ethical way. I'll be giving a fairly dry talk on reference management, teamwork and quality assurance in legal and financial translation—nerdy, sleep-inducing technical stuff for which attendees can leave their pitchforks at home—but there will be plenty for those who prefer verbal caffeine in the many other presentations from the many excellent speakers at this year's event.

IAPTI 2018 conference logo and link
Click the conference logo to go to IAPTI's conference information and registration site!

We’ll be celebrating International Translation Day together with talk on a range of relevant practical matters in translation and interpretation while exploring some of the profession’s hot topics and most urgent ethical questions.

On the Friday September 28 before the conference there are also some free workshops in English and Spanish for early registrants.

The literary translator Emily Wilson will be there as keynote speaker give us her perspective as the first woman to translate Homer's Odyssey into English. (It's a brilliant work - I'm reading it!) 

The author of the well-respected “red book” of medical terminology and cofounder of Cosnautas, Fernando Navarro, will be giving a workshop and a presentation in Spanish. 

And veteran linguistics sage David Crystal will also pay a virtual visit to share his latest thoughts.

I hope to see you at the Valencia conference and maybe share a taste of my sweet olives, a Greek delight reborn as a Portuguese culinary specialty. Have a look at what's ahead: