Aug 28, 2019

The challenge of light resource updates with many projects in memoQ

"Templates" take two forms in memoQ: the configuration option for equipping new projects with relevant resources in an automated way to save time and avoid forgetting important references or other information, which was introduced several years ago, and the older sort of "template" - a configured, existing project for a particular client or subject area - where new documents are simply added and old ones archived or deleted as time goes by. I use both approaches and still tend to rely more on the latter practice, as many do.

One colleague who is a frequent source of inspiration for new workflow approaches often mentions that her projects and support resources number in the hundreds, so many ideas I have for managing my own more limited set these days are not practical for her work. But recently someone mentioned casually that it was going to be difficult to update segmentation rules in the 1500 or so projects that her team maintains to support in-house translation needs in their firm. Oh, my God. Yes, that would take some time following the usual approach of going to Project home > Settings and selecting a new resource in even 10% of that number of projects.

There is a better way. In fact, this way will work with the desktop editions typically used by individuals as well as with memoQ server installations of any size, and a "mass update" of project light resources can be performed in very little time - less than it usually takes me to finish a cup of coffee in the morning. My recent article on memoQ light resource defaults and how to change them essentially points the way, but more details, now tested with a memoQ server as well, are given here.

Light resources in a desktop edition are typically stored in the paths
C:\ProgramData\MemoQ\Resources\Defaults for default resources and
C:\ProgramData\MemoQ\Resources\Local for customized (user-created) resources, unless that path was changed (as many do if they deal with a lot of files with long names and need to shorten paths to avoid errors when the file and path names together approach the 256 character limit imposed by Microsoft Windows).

Server installations follow more or less the same logic:
C:\ProgramData\MemoQ Server\Resources\Defaults for default resources and
C:\ProgramData\MemoQ Server\Resources\Local for custom ones, unless changed as noted above.

Note that the ProgramData folder is a hidden folder by default in Windows, so you may need to change your folder settings to view it.

Light resources stored in both the Defaults and custom (Local) folders are saved without the MemoQResource header one sees in an exported light resource file. Compare the following two screenshots of the same resource in the external editing and maintenance file (with XML comments to help me keep track of what things mean) and the stored file after importing it into memoQ:

My master resource file for German segmentation, maintained with comments in Notepad++
Imported custom resource file for German segmentation. All comments are stripped by memoQ.

So, what should you do if you have 200 projects for your personal work with a memoQ desktop edition or 1500 projects on your memoQ server, and you have a new segmentation rules file, for example, which you want to apply to all of your projects? Simply
  1. Copy all the text beginning with the XML declaration

    all the way down to the end of the file.
  2. Find the default or local resource to update in the paths described above (or in your own custom path) and open the file in a text editor.
  3. Select all the text in the installed resource file, and paste the text of the new resource over it, replacing the content completely.
  4. Save and close the file.
The changes to your default or custom resource will be active immediately. No need to restart memoQ or close and re-open any projects.

In my case, with the German segmentation file given as an example, I would paste that new content into the resource files for generic German (ger), as well as German from Germany (ger-DE), Austria (ger-AT) and Switzerland (ger-CH). No need to mess with the awful integrated resource editors in memoQ, because I keep a master resource file with explanatory comments to help me maintain it better outside of memoQ, and the segmentation I want will be the same for all language variants.

This method does nothing to disturb the content of existing projects nor does it affect their stability in any way. This should work with any memoQ light resources. Thus, for example, an IT department could plan bulk updates even of local resources like keyboard shortcut or web search settings given the necessary access to user drives on a network.

The approach that many follow of deleting old resources and importing new ones with the same names won't work; this can play Hell with project settings, because memoQ notices that a resource used in projects has been removed, and it does not replace the old assignment with a new one, even if that new one has the same name. I played that game with many variations to see if I could trick memoQ into substituting the same-named resource in my project and had no success at all. Don't go there. Use the process I described above.

Aug 26, 2019

Exporting compatible XLIFF (XLF) bilingual files from memoQ

Here we go again. Although memoQ is the undisputed leader for compatibility and interoperability among translation environment tools, users still encounter problems exchanging files, particularly XLIFF of some sort, with users of other tools. This is not because of any actual difficulty producing compatible XLIFF files, but rather a matter of deficient tool training and the failure to date by memoQ product designers to make the ease of interoperability a little more obvious. Some other tools, like recent versions of SDL Trados Studio, come pre-configured on installation to recognize the proprietary file extensions for memoQ's flavor of XLIFF ("MQXLIFF") and renamed ZIP packages (MQXLZ) containing XLIFF files, but others (or versions of SDL Trados Studio from many years ago) need to be configured to recognize those extensions, or someone simply has to change the MQXLIFF file extension to an extension that will be recognized by any tool: *.xliff or *.xlf are the choices.

The two-step solution is shown here:

On the Documents ribbon in memoQ, click on the tiny arrow under the Export icon and choose the option to export a bilingual file. There is some blue text which, if clicked, will allow a compatible XLIFF file to be exported, albeit with the MQXLIFF extension that some other programs might not recognize.

When the Export button in the dialog (marked 1, above) is clicked, the Save As dialog (marked 2, above) appears, simply change the file extension (the part after the period) to "xlf", for example. Then any program that reads XLIFF files can work with the file you export from memoQ. Despite the change of extension, memoQ will still recognize the file it produced, so it is possible to re-import it, for example if another person has made corrections to the XLIFF file that you want to use to update your translation or reference resources.

In some much older versions of memoQ, it does not work to change the extension in the export dialog; this has to be done directly to the exported file in whatever folder you save it in.

Of course, all of this will be rather difficult if you are one of those users who has not fixed the awful Microsoft Windows default to hide the extensions of known file types. Fixing that particular stupidity requires slightly different measures in different versions of Windows, but in Windows 10 you can do that on the View ribbon of Windows Explorer by marking the choice to show file name extensions:

Aug 25, 2019

Valerij Tomarenko, requiescat in pace

Some of the professional circles of which I am a part have been shaken once again by an unexpected and very untimely loss. One of the most gifted colleagues we were privileged to know, Valerij Tomarenko, lost his life on holiday while hiking in a Scottish national park. The alarm was raised after he failed to return home when expected.

I met him for the first time years ago at a conference in Warsaw; I don't remember all the details of that night in which at least half a dozen bottles of wine were opened with another colleague as we chatted late and later. He was always "a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma" but his astonishing talents, and the kindness and respect he showed me over the years were all unmistakable. The quality of his writing in English and German - neither his native language - and the subtlety and humor it so often revealed - consistently and rightly drew the admiration of the most perceptive people I know in what was our shared profession. His eye for detail was expressed not only in beautiful words, but in photographs and composed images which never ceased to surprise and delight me and many others.

We had our differences, as people do, but always he refrained from the ad hominem attacks one sees too often now, and expressed himself in ways more likely to call a listener to reflect and consider. I never thought of him as an adversary, but if I am to have adversaries in my life, I hope to be blessed with ones of such caliber and to enjoy a glass together as we toast and dispute our divergent perspectives.

The world of communication and culture is less now without Valerij, and the void he left there is surely less than the one in the hearts of his family and those who knew him. Go read his words, and remember. Vai com Deus, meu amigo.


Aug 20, 2019

Dragon NaturallySpeaking tip: killing the "please say that again" message

One annoying default setting for dictation using Nuance's Dragon NaturallySpeaking is the display of a message which appears if speech is unclear or - more usually - when there is some background noise. Depending on the active settings, the message box may persist and cover up text so that it cannot be read easily or at all. This is particularly annoying when one edits while dictation is active.

It is possible to limit the amount of time this message is displayed or eliminate it altogether.

The solution to the problem is found in the DNS options:

Under Appearance...

The auto-hide delay settings in the Results Box section are the key. Set to "Never show" (as in the screenshot above), that annoying message will never appear on your screen. If you want to see it for some period of time, choose the desired time to display (the delay before hiding) and when the message appears, right click on it and enable Auto-hide:

Then the message will display and disappear again after the specified time. In my work, I find it an unnecessary interference that can be triggered by a noisy laptop fan or background chatter in Portuguese (when the doutora has visitors), so I turn off the message entirely as shown above.

(Many thanks to David Hardisty for making me aware of this possibility!)

Aug 1, 2019

memoQ Ergonomics Webinar on August 14th

On Wednesday, August 14 at 16:00 Central European Time, I will be giving a talk on working ergonomics in memoQ, drawing on the outline of an online course to be released later this month. You can register now HERE. The webinar will be held in English and is available to all interested parties free of charge. The recording will be available later to participants with the course materials.

This discussion will highlight key concepts and approaches from the course outline shown below. memoQ version 9 will be used as the basis for discussion, but most of the talk's content is applicable to any version from recent years.

Working Ergonomics in memoQ 9.0: Technology Practice for Ease of Use

Getting Laid Out
- Standard memoQ Layouts
This can be improved on....
- More Fun with memoQ Working Layouts!

Colors, Visibility and Priority
- Color My Grid!
- Fonts in the Working Display
Wild & crazy? Or legible? You decide!
- Translation Results List Tuning
See the match results in the order you prefer!

- Setting the user interface language

- Showing hidden characters

Tuning Options for Typists

- Autocorrect
- Lookup & insertion
- Autopropagation and Its Implications
- Predictive Typing
- Keyboard Customizing!

The Great Dictators
- Hey memoQ

- Chrome Speech

- Dragon NaturallySpeaking

- Other Speech Tools and the 3-Stage Process

Other Views of Translation
- Combining and Filtering Files for Translation

- What's in a Translation Files List?

- Making Sense of memoQ QA Results

Jul 31, 2019

URL-based searches of your Google Drive

Just before a recent short holiday, I ran across an article from 2017 which described how to search Google Drive directly from Chrome's address bar. "Interesting," I thought, and with the possibility of integrating such Google Drive searches with IntelliWebSearch or memoQ's integrated web search feature (or similar features in other environments) in mind, I shared the link with a few friends.

Google Drive and its application suite, which includes GoogleDocs (the word processor) and Google Sheets (the spreadsheet application), offer many possibilities for helping in language projects, collaborative and otherwise. I have written extensively about these possibilities with terminology (here, for example, and in a number of related articles). But these earlier investigations involved specific documents and viewing these - or selected portions of them - in a web browser window. Searching a number of files of various types on one's Google Drive ("My Drive") or a subfolder thereof is a little different. Possibly more useful in some circumstances, such as in a group project where multiple participants are contributing to a shared reference folder (though this folder will have to be added to the "My Drive" of each collaborator).

Google's Help for the relevant search function explains:
You can find files in Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides by searching for:
  • File title
  • File contents
  • Items featured in pictures, PDF files, or other files stored on your Drive
You can only search for files stored in My Drive. Files stored in folders shared with you won't appear in your search unless you add the folders to My Drive.
You can also sort and filter search results.
It all starts with a basic URL, such as
Execute that in your browser's address bar, replacing the SOMETEXT with your desired search expression, and you'll get a hit list of all files on your Google drive which include that text in the title or contents. In a tool like memoQ Web Search, it is substituted by the placeholder for search text that the application uses (that is {} in the case of memoQ Web Search). With a little experimentation, you'll soon find the additional arguments to search specific file types or folders.

For example, if I want to do a search in the "Other" subfolder on my Google drive, I can discover the URL arguments by starting a manual search and just reading the address bar:

The parameter to use for a specific folder search is "parent", followed by a colon and the coded ID of that folder.

An example of a folder search with a specific text segment is in the screenshot above; this was taken while configuring and testing the search in a memoQ Web Search profile. One document containing the search text "turnip" was found in the folder. To view the document, right-click on it in the hit list and choose Preview.

Search inside the preview of a document found in a Google Drive search with memoQ Web Search

Unfortunately there seems to be a bug in the memoQ Web Search - which now uses Chromium - because double-clicking the document tries to open it in the old search engine based on Internet Explorer, where I was not logged in to Google.

An Internet Explorer window, bizarrely launched by the Chromium-based memoQ Web Search

In fact, you'll have to log in to Google each time you open the memoQ Web Search window (a total nuisance), so it's better to leave it open in the background, even though the current bug in which the web search window is no longer brought to the forefront can make this inconvenient. In other tools this may not be an issue.

The Chromium/IE issue as well as the focus and login hassles with memoQ's web search have been reported to memoQ Support; I look forward to seeing how these are handled. Nonetheless, this Google Drive search seems to have significant potential for individuals and teams to build searchable document collections in the folders of a Google Drive account. Try it in your working environment and share your findings!

Jul 22, 2019

No comment... on memoQ "light" resources and their editors

The memoQ working environment includes a number of editing functions and modules, some better developed and more useful than others. Unfortunately, the terms "better" and "more useful" cannot be applied to many of those functions for creating and maintaining resources for auto-translation and many other functions. And, at the present time, integrated facilities for documenting the purpose and function of resources are usually limited to a short description field. The consequence of this can be, in a better case, some confusion, and if you are unlucky you might lose and or accidentally delete resources or apply a version unfit for use.

Auto-translation rule set editor with inadequate space for reading and writing the rules.

The auto-translation rule set editor is a particular headache for me. Scrolling back and forth in a tiny field to read and edit a long match rule (here, in the example of the number-matching auto-translation rules provided with the memoQ installation) is difficult and error-prone.

Even with the dialog-based editors which don't look much like editors (such as the example for QA options configuration below), it's hard to get an overview.

Unless I can compress all the relevant information into the description field for the resource, the only way I am going to get an overview of which functions are enabled is to go through all eight tabs for the QA profile in that dialog. Yuck. And the "why"? Maybe recorded in a notebook buried in the paper pile of my work table if I'm lucky.

There is a better way. And while that way is followed by a number of technically adept colleagues and developers I know, unfortunately it is not usually discussed and taught in workshops and other training venues, nor is it promoted by the software providers for memoQ in any way of which I am aware.

I typically recommend the use of specialized text editors, such as the free text and source code editor Notepad++ for most development, maintenance and documentation tasks involving memoQ light resources. It is available at no cost to everyone and offers simple functions to help you get an overview, edit and document your resources. Only a tiny bit of arcane knowledge is required.

Armed with such a tool, or even with the simple Windows Notepad application, there are a number of useful things that can be done, such as:

Add <!-- comments --> to the text of an MQRES light resource file saved from memoQ
The markers shown in red in the previous line can be added to a line in the file to provide explanatory comments or maintenance instructions. In files with regex content, I often use comments to explain to myself the use of syntax that I will otherwise forget and be unable to understand in a matter of hours or at best weeks.
Example of an auto-translation rule set with comments added
Note that these comments are stripped when resources are imported into memoQ, remaining only in the original external file. Thus, a workflow involving external development and documentation in the resource files, with imports to memoQ for testing and use, is highly desirable. If deficiencies are found in the resource, it should be corrected externally in Notepad++, etc. and re-imported, not fixed in-situ in memoQ, where no information will be present regarding the resource, its purpose and mysterious details.
Comments of this sort night be added to a QA profile, for example, to give a quick overview of the resource and its purpose in more detail than the description field allows (and I often forget to update that description field, because it is in the header of the file, which is usually not of much interest for developing and testing configurations, except to note a version number and a few details). 
Edit the resource more sensibly, using standard text editor features like search and replace
Often I'll decide to add nonbreaking spaces to a date or currency expression (or to the French output numbers in the "French Group" numbers auto-translation rule set provided with memoQ, which unfortunately probably still uses ordinary spaces as separators for thousands, millions, etc.), and this can be totally tedious in the internal editors of memoQ. Such tasks are much simpler in Notepad or Notepad++, for example.
It's also much simpler to find multiple instances of a word or structure that needs amendment or to do just about anything else when you can see all the content in a larger display.
Where resources are in fact simpler to develop inside memoQ, it is still worthwhile to export MQRES files as security. Comments added to these are a form of internal documentation which can avoid confusion and mistakes later when sorted file messes on a hard drive.
Teach and practice resource development and maintenance more effectively
A heavily commented resource file can be thought of as an easily portable "textbook" which includes a functional, importable example of its teaching. And when another person receives a copy of such a file as an example, it will be much easier to understand its structure and purpose and make any necessary changes.

Jul 21, 2019

"Faulty" memoQ light resource defaults and how to change them

So often in the decade since I began using memoQ, I've felt an undercurrent of irritation at some of the default settings for certain types of resources, and with the need to switch these resources manually in so many projects. But with so many other pressing matters, I didn't really focus on the problem until a participant in last week's summer school course at Universidade Nova in Lisbon expressed the same irritation with regard to the default QA settings.

QA settings are probably the most familiar irritants to many memoQ users. Some have declared memoQ QA to be "unusable" because of many false positives or a failure to check certain things, and these opinions are usually unfounded and reflect a poor understanding of the available options and how to use them. But even those of us who do know how to use them get caught out by forgetting to change the QA settings to our favorite profiles on many occasions.

No more. If, for example, you want to change the memoQ QA default settings, it is very easy to configure them to match your preferred profile. I started off by cloning my empty QA profile, a template file that I maintain in which no checks at all are enabled. This is the starting point I use for custom QA rule sets in memoQ.

I then edited the renamed file and configured it with the terminology, auto-translation rule and tag settings I prefer in routine cases, leaving many of the usual, irritating memoQ QA defaults disabled. Then I exported the MQRES file as a backup and opened it in a text editor.

There I copied all of the text starting with the XML declaration (skipping the MemoQResource header), and I looked (for example, in the Resource Console, though the Options and Project Settings would do as well) to see where the default resource was located:

Then I went to the file location...

... opened the file, and pasted the copied text of my desired settings into the file:

Default resources (as well as already-imported light resources) do not use headers. Then I saved the new default file and closed it. Then I started memoQ again and make a copy of the Default file for QA settings, and used the editor to examine its contents, which matched those I had pasted into the file for the QA option defaults.

I'm not sure (yet) whether these defaults will be replaced when bugfixed builds or new versions are installed, so I am keeping my exported custom QA configuration as a backup in case I need to do this again. And I will be looking at other light resources which might benefit from this approach.

I had originally considered setting my empty QA profile (with nothing set) as the default until I realized that this could lead to a false impression that nothing of interest was wrong if that default profile is accidentally chosen (or not deselected, rather) for a quality check. Then I realized that the best default to use would, of course, be the settings I use most frequently.

One objection to this procedure raised on social media is that one can set the default for new projects in the memoQ options under "default resources". However, this does nothing for projects which already exist. In these, the change would have to be made project-by-project. And for users who tend to re-use projects for a particular client rather than use the powerful, but somewhat confusing project templates feature, this is a real time-consuming nuisance. Changing the installation-level defaults automatically changes how QA is done in all the exiting projects that use "default" QA options.

Jul 11, 2019

iOS 13: interesting options for dictators

Given the deteriorating political situation of many countries in the world today, the title of this post may seem ominous to some; however, the actual situation for those who use Apple's iOS operating system seems to call for some optimism in the months ahead. Among all the myriad feature changes in the upcoming Apple iOS 13 (now in the Public Beta 2 phase), there are a few which may be of particular value to writers and translators who dictate using their iOS devices.

Attention Awareness
This is 2019, and not only is Big Brother watching you, but your iPhone will as well. The rear-facing camera on some models will detect when you look away from the phone  perhaps to tell your dog to get off the couch  and switch off voice control. The scope of application for this feature isn't clear yet, and I have my doubts whether this would be relevant to more ergonomic ways of working with applications like Hey memoQ (which involve Bluetooth headsets or earsets to avoid directionality problems as the head may turn to examine references, etc.), but for some modes of text dictation work, this could prove useful. I have lost track of how often I've been interrupted by people and found my responses transcribed in one way or another, often as an amusing salad of errors when I switch languages.

Automatic language selection in Dictation
The iOS 13 features preview from Apple states, "Dictation automatically detects which language a user is speaking. The language will be chosen from the keyboard languages enabled on the device, up to a maximum of four." Well, well. I wonder how it will handle isolated sentences or paragraphs quoted in another language  or individual foreign words. I'm betting probably not. But I'll have great fun pushing this feature around with three or four spoken languages to find its limits.

Add custom words
This is what I have wanted for years. Custom audio recognition vocabulary  words and phrases  to ensure that unusual or specialist terms are recognized and transcribed correctly. BINGO!

On-device processing
All audio processing will be handled locally (on your iPhone or iPad), ensuring privacy if you believe the NSA and/or the Russians or other parties aren't tapped into your equipment.

Enhancements to voice editing and voice-driven app control
There are a lot of these. Read about them in the Accessibility section of the features description from Apple. My first impression of these possibilities is that editing and correcting text may become much easier on iOS devices, and the attractiveness of the three-stage dictation/alignment/pretranslation workflow may increase for some translators. (An old example of this is in an old YouTube video I prepared years ago for a remote conference presentation, but the procedure works with any speech-to-text options and has the advantage of at least two revision steps.)

It's even more interesting to consider how some of these new features might be harnessed by apps designed to work with translation assistance environments. And if Google responds - as I believe the company is likely to do - with new features for Chrome speech recognition and voice control features in Android and desktop computers, then there could be some very, very interesting things ahead for wordworkers in the next year or two. Vamos ver!

Jun 22, 2019

Smartling vs. Easyling: the court has spoken!


The first time I heard of "Smartling" was when Miguel Llorens wrote an exposé of the new company's rather dubious Spanish website quality. That was 2012, bad timing for a company in the first stages of acquiring many millions of venture capital financing. Certainly not the time one wants to see negative publicity like Miguel wrote. But all that didn't interest me; he and I were scheduled to debate machine pseudo-translation advocates at a conference in Warsaw that September. Yet another funky little startup without much to offer beyond the usual hype for idiots was really not enough to get on anyone's radar given the broader trend of deprofessionalization and war on independent service providers.

But Miguel never made it to that debate. Shortly before the conference he went silent, and when I finally got news through mutual friends, it was that his mother had already returned to Venezuela with his ashes. The circumstances of his death were never really resolved as far as I know; it was hot in Madrid at the time, a real heat wave, and the body wasn't found for some time.

Fast forward a couple of years. A well-financed Smartling is engaged in a full-court press on the market, but not yet of the judicial variety. Despite denials from some company employees, there was still incomprehensible, low-quality machine-translated content to be found on the site - for Dutch and German at least when I checked. But CEO Stormin' Jack and his sidekick VP of something-or-other Nataly Kelly (she of CSA fame with those bogus estimates of rate drops in translatiom that were used as a cudgel against independent service providers) were busy networking, making contacts among "influencers" and seemingly buying whomever was for sale. They tried it on with me, certainly, and I found it fascinating to study their methods. I had not seen some of those sophisticated moves since my days of footsie with FBI counterintelligence.

And the rounds of VC financing went on and on I'm told. "Shades of Thanatos!" I thought at one point, though really, Jack is no Elizabeth Holmes. There were a few associated with translation service companies who loudly rang the bell for Smartling and all it had to offer; Terena's bell rang a bit hollow to my ear, and sure enough, before long she bailed out on the translation sector to do other, better and presumably more profitable things.

So what does one do when flush with cash but the dog and pony show is just filling the stage with dogshit and horse apples, and your competition does something much like you do, but more transparently and perhaps more functionally? Double down on research & development? That's not The American Way today! Why you sue, you do, sweep those pesky foreign companies from the market in a legal campaign of Shock and Awe.

Except that sometimes common sense and justice prevails in the legal arena, and all your money won't buy you love... or victory. See above.

Jun 11, 2019

Ergonomic optimization for memoQ windows & more!

Click the graphic to see the mind-blowing details of all you can get on two silly little screens. Imagine two big ones!

How many functional windows do you see for working in the memoQ project of the screenshot here? Do you need more? It's possible. Are you familiar with all the functions shown in this two-screen view of my laptop and a repurposed television screen on my working holiday?

Of course one need not be restricted to just the many undockable, resizable and relocatable windows of memoQ; other, third-party like the SDL MultiTerm Widget (for searching SDL term bases in memoQ or other applications) or IntelliWebSearch, which offers many customized, configurable multi-tab web searches with the browser engine of your choice, or others can be added as needed.

"But wait!", you say. "You can't undock memoQ windows except for the preview, and it's impossible to get enough space to see all the information in the Translation Results pane or see the comparison of large matches well!" Well, here you can. The Translation Results hit list can take the whole height of your screen if you want it to. And you can even see more than one translation and editing grid for files if you need to.

Just because memoQ Support or some expert in the company says stuff like that is not possible doesn't make it so. For something like a decade now I have heard users ask for a lot of layout customization features to improve working ergonomics in memoQ. Heck, I've heard myself beg for that for ages. But typically, one is told how difficult and expensive such efforts are, how there are other priorities, yada yada yada. What, apparently, nobody realized was that while all these discussions were going on, someone actually implemented the requested features, deliberately or otherwise. In any case, somehow that secret never got out. Until I stumbled over it last week while trying to enjoy a few days at the beach.

"How do I get there?" you and David Byrne may ask. Join us for the Best Practices in Translation Technology course from 15 to 20 July (next month) in Lisbon and find out! Or wait until I get around to opening my upcoming online courses, Working Ergonomics in memoQ and New Beginnings with memoQ 9.0, coming soon. Or look in all those memoQ basics tutorials from memoQ Translation Technologies Ltd. on YouTube - something as basic as ergonomics for using the software must be in there somewhere. Or maybe not. Yet.

Or... explore and discover the tricks yourself. And while you're at it, you might find some of the other hidden surprises cleverly concealed in the world's greatest translation environment toolkit.

Jun 4, 2019

Best Practices in Translation Technology - summer school in Lisbon (July 2019)

UPDATE: The course registration deadline is Sunday, June 23rd!

Once again this year, I'll be team teaching a course with David Hardisty and Marco Neves (in English, open to all, with enrollment limited) at Universidade Nova de Lisboa (the New University in Lisbon, Portugal) on topics for best practice applying technology for more efficient and effective translation processes.
Click the graphic above to go to the Portuguese information page!
Details for costs (about €150 for those not enrolled at the university) are available here in English; the course instructors will assist those who cannot read Portuguese registration pages to register and handle other details as needed.

This year's topics include:
– Good translation workflows. 
– Using voice recognition in translation. 
– Using machine translation in a humane, intelligent way. 
– Using checklists to improve communication in translation. 
– Using glossaries, bilingual texts and other references in multiplatform environments. 
– Good practices for using terminology and reference texts in the target language. 
– Planning and creating lists for "autotranslatables" and the basics of "regular expressions" for filters.

There are some unannounced extras, but those will remain secret for now :-) And as time permits, individual challenges of course participants can also be addressed by the experts leading the course.

This is about as good as it gets for training costs; the university tuition is ridiculously low, and the 25 hours of instruction during the week of 15 to 20 July cost less than most half-day workshops while delivering far more. If it were up to me, I would probably increase the cost ten-fold, but that's because I'm a practical business person who understands commercial value, not a university administrator :-)

The course requires a basic knowledge of memoQ in advance, but much of the material goes well beyond that CAT tool. As always, integrated work with other environments, such as SDL Trados Studio and Wordfast is taught and emphasized.

The complete cost information (in Portuguese) is here:

The direct registration page in Portuguese (where you will need to mark "Boas Práticas de Tecnologia para Tradução/Best Practices in Translation Technology" at the bottom) is here:

We hope you can join us!

Regular expressions in memoQ demystified - THE workshop!

Next week in Utrecht there will be a unique workshop to enhance your productivity with memoQ, as you learn how to develop rules for automated formatting and QA of patterned expressions, such as dates, currency expressions, unusual or custom text formats and more. THIS knowledge is one of those "secret weapons" that I deploy to help the most sophisticated financial and legal translators I know save countless hours of mind-numbing donkey work doing QA on things like legal references and expressions involving currency (such as EUR 3 million vs. €3m, etc.) or creating those references in the first place and inserting them in the translation with a simple keystroke.

The course instructor, Marek Pawelec, is one of my personal resources when I am in over my head on technical problems or when I need to be very sure that a client of mine gets the right help in time. He has a rare gift of taking subject matter which many find baffling and presenting in a way that makes it accessible to most any educated adult.

Because of the scope of this subject matter and the importance of proper follow-up and support while learning it, the workshop will be held over two days - June 10 and 11 (Monday and Tuesday) - from 10 am to 4 pm each day, which will give plenty of time to learn the basics and move on to apply your new technical skills to common and not-so-common technical challenges in translation projects where memoQ is involved.

Trust me on this one: we are talking about critical process secrets to save massive amounts of time and do better work on things like annual reports, court briefs and more. Or creating projects for text formats that seem impossible to work with at first glance. THIS is where the money is in an increasingly competitive market.

Information to register now can be found on the Facebook event page for the workshop or on the relevant Regex Workshop page for the host, the All Round Translator education cooperative in the Netherlands.

May 19, 2019

Statutory translation rates for Germany: JVEG update

With all the confusion about fees for translation in some circles, and the generally timid and misguided attitudes regarding rate discussions in organizations such as the American Translators Association (ATA), it is useful to know or be reminded that such matters are governed by statute in some countries, such as Germany. The German Gesetz über die Vergütung von Sachverständigen, Dolmetscherinnen, Dolmetschern, Übersetzerinnen und Übersetzern sowie die Entschädigung von ehrenamtlichen Richterinnen, ehrenamtlichen Richtern, Zeuginnen, Zeugen und Dritten (law regarding the payment of experts, interpreters and translators and the compensation of pro bono judges, witnesses and third parties), also known as JVEG, governs the rates to be paid for certain categories of professionals who provide services related to courts, public agencies and the like, and it serves as a benchmark of what extensive review by the German parliament has determined to be fair and sustainable compensation for said professionals. I received notice recently that this law and its rates are under review again and may be revised shortly to cope with abuses often involving police agencies or others colluding with low cost and low quality brokers to attain rates which are not appropriate for the services provided and which sometimes represent poverty wages for the individuals providing the actual service.

The current law has many sections, and the ones most relevant to translation fees are sections 11 and 9 JVEG, though other sections are important to determine costs for travel, materials, stamping, copies and other incidentals. The current rates are higher in some respects than those I translated and published 11 years ago, though the top rate has been cut nearly in half.

Section 11 JVEG reads as follows:
(1) The fee for a translation amounts to €1.55 for each 55 keystrokes or fraction thereof in the written text (base fee). For texts not provided in an electronically editable format, the fee increases to €1.75 for each 55 keystrokes or fraction thereof (increased fee). If the translation is complicated particularly due to special circumstances of the individual case, in particular due to the frequent use of specialist terms, difficulties in legibility, particular urgency or because it concerns a foreign language not common in Germany, the base fee is €1.85 and the increased fee is €2.05. The target language text is the standard for the number of keystrokes; if, however, Latin characters are used only in the source language, the number of keystrokes in the source language text is the standard. If counting the keystrokes involves excessive effort, their number is determined by taking into account the average number of keystrokes per line and counting the lines.
(2) For one or more translations which are part of the same order, the minimum fee is €15.
(3) Insofar as the service of the translator consists of reviewing documents or telecommunication recordings for specific content without the need of preparing a written translation for these, the fee received will be that of an interpreter.

JVEG 11(3) would cover the case of summary work, listening to recordings to identify matters relevant to a client and probably things like sight translation and discussion. But what is the interpreter's fee to be applied in this case? That fee is governed by section 9(3) JVEG, which reads:

(3) The interpreter’s fee is €70 for each hour, and, if called upon explicitly for simultaneous interpretation, it is €75 for each hour; the fee is determined only by the type of interpreting communicated in advance for the assignment. One working solely as an interpreter receives a cancellation fee to the extent that cancellation of the appointment at which the interpreter was requested was not on account of the interpreter personally, a loss of income occurred, and notice of the cancellation was given for the first time on the scheduled date or on one of the two days prior. The cancellation fee is granted up to an amount corresponding to the fee for two hours.

For a typical urgent case of translating a brief for litigation in patent nullity proceedings, where one encounters the specialist terminology of the patent subject matter as well as the specific legal terminology for such litigation, the proper fee would be €2.05 per standard line (usually in the target text, though source text may be counted as noted above), which is equivalent to about €0.27 per source word for my German to English work.

For translating general correspondence in the same case, with no urgency and no burdensome specialist terminology, the appropriate fee would be the base rate of €1.55 per line or usually about €0.20 per source word. The equivalence calculations provided by the Online Fee Wizard of Amtrad Services (screenshot, above) are based on the averages of some EU documents; it is often a good idea to measure the actual equivalents in the real texts involved using the Excel spreadsheet Amtrad Services provides or my own rate equivalency calculation tools.

If you are a translation client dealing with a brokering agency quoting something close to the JVEG rates, please note that these were determined to be the sustainable rates for individuals, and they do not include the usual fees and markup applied by service brokers. Very often this means that the translator providing the service is being compensated at abusively low rates and is probably not a professional working full time in translation and dependent on that income to pay bills and eat. If you are dealing with an individual quoting rates below the JVEG, unless that individual lives in some place like Ecuador, you might well question whether that person is able to give full attention to the assignment and/or will continue to around to provide services to you and others in the future.

Apr 26, 2019

The Kindness of Strangers and Friends

This day was one of tired celebration. I'm in Lisbon, exhausted and relieved at getting my Portuguese visa renewed after months of over-the-top stress about the difficulties of scheduling a renewal interview in a system badly cracked under strains from international politics of recent years. I used to walk in to an office of Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF) and there would be almost nobody there, and business was settled quickly. Now, even when I tried to book an appointment (walking in is no longer allowed) six weeks in advance, I was given a date for a renewal interview that was three and a half months after my visa would expire. Only by great good luck did I get an earlier date when somebody canceled and my lady called the immigration offices at just the right moment.

I went out to a local restaurant near our Benfica apartment to celebrate alone; the dinner of monkfish and shrimp rice was perfect with a vinho verde tinto.

As I ate, I read various articles on my ever-present iPhone; one - "Helping Others Become Bilingual" in Psychology Today - spoke in particular to my present experience of life and things that have moved me so often in the past six years as I learned a new language and sometimes struggled more than a little to find my way in a new culture I may never understand entirely. The article is basically about kindness.

Kindness is what brought me to Portugal. It is, of course, not a patented property of the country and culture, though I have encountered more of it here than anywhere else, and I believe that there are some cultural factors which cultivate it more than in some other places. The kindness I have experienced in nearly every country, sometimes momentary, sometimes sustained over decades, is the mortar which holds together the foundation of most of what has been good in my life, and some significant part of that has been linguistic kindness in a large part. When I was an exchange student in the Saarland many years ago, I was welcomed into homes of people who spoke a dialect I found baffling, and they kindly tolerated my lack of understanding, never ostracized nor criticized me and patiently translated bits like "Hoscht gess?" into more familiar forms like "Hast du gegessen?". As a consequence, the many dialects of the Saarland and Rhine-Palatinate region of Germany will always have a special place in my heart.

Poland taught me that the language of kindness need not be verbal. I was buying bread one morning while attending a professional conference, and I had tied my young wire-haired vizsla Jambor to a metal chair outside the bakery. The air brakes of a bus frightened him, and he took off running across a busy street. I screamed No!!! and ran after him into the street, falling full length in front of a car which stopped just in time not to kill me. I ran after my dog and he raced down the sidewalk opposite; after several hundred meters some pedestrians managed to stop him before he ran out into a busy intersection, where he might very well have been killed. I held my young dog, shaking and crying, wondering how it was that we were still alive. The voices around me were comforting, but I understood nothing; I just shook until an old man quietly put his arm over my shoulder, and I could breathe again. I returned to the bakery with the bent and broken chair, expecting to be screamed at for the destruction, but the owner of the shop invited me and my dogs (Ajax, my Drahthaar, was also with me and also managed not to get killed as he followed me on the run) inside and gave me tea, telling me not to worry.

The Dutch are known for being brusque and rude, but in that crudest of cultures I have experienced kindnesses I can never describe without tears and memories of clients who have become friends who will never be forgotten wherever they go.

Such stories are everywhere, and I suspect nearly everyone, anywhere, has at least a few. Bilinguals surely have some, more like a lot, of kindnesses shown when they stumbled and fell over new or rusty tongues. Today again I had my share, in the SEF interview where I proudly mangled the Portuguese language with a patient immigration clerk, at dinner tonight as the waiter kindly confirmed my dessert order while teaching me the correct way to pronounce the fruit I wanted and many times in between.

My six years have, I think, given me some insight into what it might be like for some of the many refugees and immigrants in this world as they struggle to come to terms with new languages and cultures, often without the financial and other material resources I have and with backgrounds and skin colors that might inspire less sympathy than mine usually do. When I think life in my wonderful country of choice can be hard at times I feel shame when I remember how much harder some things are for so many others.

I spent time living in a very poor neighborhood of Évora, because I wanted to get away from all the educated Portuguese who would immediately switch to English with me. The Psychology Today article brought back many memories of that time and the extraordinary kindness of the people who, upon being told that I was not returning to the country of my birth, but instead intended to make theirs my home, welcomed me and patiently taught me new words and lavished me with kindnesses of every degree on my many walk with the dogs through their streets. The local grocery workers even took extra time to show me local foods and teach me to pronounce all the things I pointed to buy.

My goodnight graphic
I am not always kind in return, not even with those who are kindest to me, and that is simply wrong. My beautiful doutora spoke the most miserable English when we met, and I was grateful for her patient communication and complete acceptance of my complex and usually difficult self, but now that she has achieved an English fluency that would make her a good international lecturer I unkindly nitpick her word choices and burst with impatience and yet another fucked-up participle that anyone would understand anyway with no trouble. And I fail to give credit most of the time when I steal her original perversions of English and pass them off as my own linguistic creativity with the applause of my professional peers. Yes, I am a plagiarist of sorts, probably, and an ingrate in any case.

Of course, I have professional justifications for being a linguistic asshole; I feel - probably rightly so - that my strict separation of languages I use is necessary to keep my edge as a writer and translator and not fall into the incompetent muck that is the medium of the bulk market translation service bog. I cringe when I see the actual incompetence of some language professionals who are not quite Dunning-Kruger cases but are at least not in the fraction of the top percent that so many of my friends inhabit. But I'm getting that all wrong in most respects. As some others do too.

Michael Moore made the point well in his autobiography when he wrote of his time with writer Kurt Vonnegut in that great man's last year. Kurt said that his son Mark had figured out the meaning of life for him, with all its senselessness and pain. "We're here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is." That's about right.

Apr 12, 2019

memoQ LiveDocs: What Good Is It, Anyway? (webinar, 23 April 2019)

I'll be presenting a free webinar on the uses, advantages, and quirks of memoQ's often underestimated and misunderstood LiveDocs module: everything you always needed to know about its features and corpora but never thought to ask.

When? On 23 April 2019 at 3:00 PM Lisbon time (4:00 PM Central European Time, 7:00 AM Pacific Standard Time); webinar attendance is free, but advance registration is required. The URL to register is:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation e-mail containing information about joining the presentation.

Particular questions regarding the subject matter or challenges you face with it are welcome in advance via e-mail, LinkedIn or other social media contact. I'll try to incorporate these in the presentation.

Accessing full bilingual document context in an alignment in LiveDocs from the memoQ Concordance