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Aug 17, 2021

Note-taking for Remote Simultaneous Interpreting: webinar on 21 August 2021

 On Saturday, August 21st at 14:00 UTC, the International Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters (IAPTI) will present a special webinar on note-taking as a critical differentiation skill in the competitive field of remote simultaneous interpreting (RSI), a staple of international communication in our pandemic times and likely thereafter. The presentation is free for members, with a small fee for members of partner associations (€22) and non-members (€25). Send your registration request by e-mail to:!

Aug 12, 2021

Fail early and often

A guest post by Kevin Hendzel 

Why playing it safe by trying to avoid mistakes is exactly the wrong instinct in translation

We’re all afraid of failure – it’s deeply hard-wired into our genetic code. If our forebears had not succeeded in avoiding all the predators on the primordial savannah by listening to those trembling fears, none of us would even be here today. 

And then there’s the shame of being told we are wrong. We avoid this at all costs because the downsides are so painful -- loss of approval and respect, and a feeling of personal regret.  We’ve all been there.

Novice translators often instinctively avoid these risks by playing it safe, or engaging in what’s called “risk aversion” – clinging to dictionary definitions they can point to later in self-defense, providing literal renderings of the source text and other approval-seeking behavior. 

This is exactly the wrong thing to do.

I learned this lesson as a young rock climber in the arid mountain climate of Arizona.  At high altitudes, novice climbers instinctively cling to the rock face, pulling their face and upper bodies flush to the rock with their arms.  This is totally understandable.  Fear will do that to you when you’re 400 feet up in the air and there’s nothing below you but more rock.

Unfortunately, this is the wrong instinct.  

While your face and upper body feel safer as they cling to the rock, that position pushes the toes of your feet – on which all your weight rests – ever so slightly outward.  It dramatically increases the likelihood that you will slip and fall.

Experienced climbers hold their upper bodies slightly away from the rock face – this pushes their toes and feet into the rock, and gives them greater stability and mobility.  

Experienced translators do this, too.  A lifetime of climbing all over texts has taught them to cling less desperately to that rock face.

Since novice translators lack this experience, another strategy they use is to defend a translation based on their “feeling” for the text, or their “intuition” on how a text should be rendered.  

This is certainly seductive, because we have all experienced how successful this strategy can be in personal interactions with spoken language in social situations where two people are working together to find common ground.  But those conversations are usually in limited domains, rely heavily on visual cues and body language, and are forgiving of errors.

This strategy utterly fails in written translation when it’s just you and the source text staring you in the face.

That’s because it falls victim to a human cognitive flaw. The psychologist Daniel Kahneman calls it the “WYSIATI Fallacy” (“What You See is All There Is.”)  As Kahneman notes, “It leads a mind to experience high confidence much too easily by ignoring what it does not know.”

Let’s see if I can explain that one a bit better.

Skill in the translation field is a form of wisdom that relies on extended life experience in which we make repeated errors that are then corrected, sculpted and eventually perfected over a period of many years to form the building blocks that we use to convey master-level texts.

This is because translation is not one single skill, but a whole complex chain of specific, precise and in many ways unrelated skills.  These include, among others:

a) The ability to think and navigate in two or more languages simultaneously; 

b) A talent for conveying ideas over complex and often incompatible terrains; 

c) A profound sensitivity to the power and subtleties of different languages; 

d) An artistic flair and ear for composition in your target language;

e) The mastery of exceedingly complex technical, legal, scientific and cultural subjects.

As you can see, “intuition” is a feeble weapon against such a fearsome task.

So try this: Take risks.  Ease away from the rock. Explore different routes and paths. 

In practical terms, when you are first starting out, this means you will fail early and often. But the path to success in translation is paved with an endless cornucopia of errors. We learn and retain more knowledge from the errors we’ve made and learned from than the questions we got right the first time on the test. 

Translation at its best is an essentially collaborative enterprise.  It requires endless learning from each other – mentors, instructors, colleagues and partners – every single day. So take the risk right now of being revised and re-written and corrected.

It’s a lot more fun when we’re all climbing this mountain together.

Aug 5, 2021

Workflow Wednesday: Getting started with memoQ templates


Recorded Aug 11, 2021

It has been more than seven years since memoQ introduced the use of project templates, and although the default method of project creation involves templates when the New Project icon is clicked on the Project ribbon, most users stick with the examples provided, venturing little beyond them, or they use the old Project Wizard and avoid templates altogether. It took me some years to really get my head around the use of project templates in memoQ, and the fully configured sample templates included with installation and made to specifications that were seldom aligned to my needs were not particularly helpful.

When I finally did understand how templates could revolutionize my productivity in local and online projects, I responded to help requests by some LSP consulting clients by providing fully configured templates to address all the problems they listed with the often complex needs of their high volume clients. And to my surprise, most of these configurations went unused. The project managers were simply overwhelmed. As I had been for nearly six years.

And then a colleague's request to help with a filter for a package type not included in memoQ's standard configuration opened my eyes to the importance of simplicity. I had to use a template for that particular challenge, and the template allowed easy import of GLP packages full of TXLF files and did no other special thing.

A weekend of training with project managers from a local LSP showed that this approach could clear up the confusion often caused by immediate confrontation with "kitchen sink" templates as an introduction. When the team shared their desires of "just one thing" to make their work easier and saw how simply that one thing could be accomplished, the understood the value of templates quickly and were soon able to build more sophisticated templates as their confidence grew and they dared tread just a bit farther. Step. By. Step. 

So this webinar took a different approach to templates than you have probably seen so far, emphasizing simplicity and simple needs as a foundation for robust processes and automation. I had no intention of talking about all the myriad options for configuration and automation, though some of these were discussed in the Q&A. This talk is for people who are confused by templates. Who think they aren't really of any use for what they do. Or who are even scared stiff of them. So enjoy the recording (best viewed on YouTube, where you can take advantage of the time-coded table of contents).

Jun 21, 2021

Get a Q about translation!

Once again, my friends at memoQ Ltd., the software artists formerly known as Kilgray, are offering a great deal:

30% discount

on new licenses for the Translator Pro edition of memoQ, the most versatile professional platform for organizing and performing translation work. The relevant sales page can be found HERE.

Many people who use memoQ these days are only familiar with the limited WebTrans versions linked to a server for slavelancing; with your own desktop edition of memoQ Translator Pro, you need no licenses allocated by server operators and have far more control over the resources used in projects based on remote servers. And, of course, total control over all the projects on your local computer, without dependence on sometimes unreliable online connections.

A memoQ license often makes a lot of sense for translators and reviewers who prefer to work with other tools as well. Each platform for computer-aided translation has its own unique set of characteristics, such as the file formats it can process (a major, major point) and the kinds of operations it can perform to translate, edit, review and quality check texts. This is why, for example, I keep a license of Trados Studio on hand, because certain types of files can be prepared better with that tool, but the actual translation after preparation works better for me in memoQ. Conversely, if you are a user of another tool, such as Trados Studio or Wordfast, file formats which cannot be handled easily in those tools can often be prepared in memoQ as an intermediate stage and then translated in your preferred tool. And powerful features like memoQ's Regex Text Filter, which is basically a build-you-own-filter toolkit for any sort of crazy client-cooked text-based data format, enable memoQ to "serve" a wide variety of other platforms. Just a week ago, for example, I used that feature to build an import filter for the *.ctm format used in Community Trade Mark information in the EU so that XLIFF files could be prepared for memoQ, Trados Studio, etc. and translators and reviewers would no longer have to suffer nightmare's from the EU's badly programmed translation software.

This special price on new licenses is also relevant for current users of memoQ who have not had a support and maintenance agreement (SMA) for some years. The annual SMA cost of memoQ Translator Pro is 20% of the list price of the software (€620) or €124 per year (or the equivalent in other currencies). This entitles the user to deeper-level support and access to all upgrades released during the term of the SMA, even if these are not installed by the time an SMA lapses. Some think there is no "value" in that, because they ask all their questions on a listserve or a Facebook user group, but I've had too much personal experience with corrupted customer files rescued by my Hungarian Heroes to give much credit to that opinion. The memoQ Support team is honestly the best in its class. I have five decades now of experience with software support teams on which I base that opinion. On more platforms than most people can or should imagine.

There is some confusion and occasional resentment about memoQ's policy of cumulating costs for the SMA if someone wants to renew in order to access features in a new version. If you "skip" two years, the cost of those "missing" years is added to the cost of your renewal, and at some point it's just cheaper to buy a new license. What's that point? Let's do the math. There is usually at least some opportunity to get a 30% discount deal at least once a year, and some professional organizations have continuous access to that rate, which would currently be €434 (or about US$ 515 according to, but if you are in the US or somewhere else and plan to pay in US currency, please check the sales page for the actual price). So...

(434 new license cost)/(124 SMA per year) = 3.5 years

In other words, if you feel you don't need support from the dedicated experts who make the software and need to eat and pay their water and electricity bills just like you, then upgrade (pay the SMA) only every five years (one free year of SMA comes with each new license) and you'll save a little bit of money. This approach actually works best for people who are only occasional users or who rely on other tools for their routine work. The memoQ license continues to work indefinitely with or without the SMA under any Windows operating system with which it is compatible. Unlike a Wordfast or Memsource license, for example, it isn't a subscription which lapses after some period. I still run into memoQ users with ten year old software, and it works just fine for them, and they don't do the SMA. I've heard discussions of possible memoQ subscription (SaaS) models, and there is a cloud-based server that uses that model, but that's not what this special Translator Pro deal is about.

memoQ has a lot to offer, and the user community is full of really great people who offer mutual support for a lot of really tough challenges, as one also finds for many other leading commercial and Open Source tools. As a consultant for translation technology with over 5 decades of IT experience now, I try to make fair comparisons of usability and value and invest what personal time I can afford (or someone pays me to afford) to see what works best for a given individual or organization. And more often or not, the answer UI find is "memoQ". Even when my friends in the company piss me off with some awful bug in a new or old release or disappoint me with some policy with which I vehemently disagree, and in a fury I think, "Damnit, I am going to switch to X!", I never find that X > Q.

So for all of us in translation, even those without a clue, maybe it's time to get a Q. It also matters to me that the people behind it all actually do care about what we do.

Jun 12, 2021

The right Ideas venue for #memoQ in #xl8

To request access to the memoQ Ideas Portal, e-mail


Yesterday I had an interesting chat with some of the memoQ team involved with the new Regex Assistant in memoQ 9.8, and before we finished, one of the fellows in the session offered me a tour of that "development portal" described in a January 2021 blog post but which I had never accessed myself, having seen similar user forums for other tools go straight down the toilet after many people had invested a lot of effort in them. However, in this case, I was quite surprised by the quality of what I saw, and then tweeted:

This thing really does look good, and I don't mean just its clean appearance:

As far as I can tell, the thing is implemented with WordPress; it uses gravatars for those users who want to have a chosen image appear by their posts and comments. The official company explanation of the portal, its purpose and how to use it is here.

One user had this comment about the new platform for suggestions:
Although memoQ's support team is generally excellent, they deal with tens of thousands of users and their ongoing troubles, and the form letters they used to send for requested features often had a somewhat impersonal feel, which frustrated many people. And there was little chance to see if others had similar requests or to discuss these. All that has changed for the better with this new portal.

The most encouraging thing for me, however, is the clear commitment to this platform which I saw in the memoQ product owner, Zsolt Varga, in a group chat with another responsible person. He's a consummate professional and no bullshitter, and it's clear he plans to watch the portal closely to inform efforts of many kinds with memoQ software.

So, for now I have abandoned my initial reservations about yet another user campaign, and I am taking this as seriously as the decision-makers I trust are. My friends at memoQ will probably also welcome the respite from late-night e-mails and Skype harangues about things I feel are harming the productivity of many of my LSP and independent friends in the translation sector. Many people in the translation world, including some of my closest friends, mistake what I actually do. For more than twenty years now, I have been more of a consultant, occasionally a developer for translation workflow solutions and training or coaching. Yes, I translate a lot, though less in recent years as I prepare for a quiet retirement with my ducks and goats, but I have this bad habit as a former research scientist of turning almost every freakin' translation project into some kind of study, though my clients are usually spared the knowledge and the burden of results from these studies. Most of my time lately is spent training translators and project managers privately. So in any case, I am really, really chuffed, as my British friends would put it, to see the memoQ Ideas Portal, which is, I believe, the best venue so far for memoQ users of every kind to tell the makers what we really need.

So take your ideas and wishes for a better memoQ here:

And now I have to get off my ass and contribute, or I'm going to lose a bet and have to pick up a really, really big bar tab at the next memoQ Fest. So won't you join me? At the Portal, I mean. Well, in Budapest at the next memoQ Fest too, assuming we all manage to get our vaccinations and don't die of the next plague or get blown up by all those jihadis for other CAT tools out there....

We need better backups! Vote for this!!!

Jun 5, 2021

Get better dates with memoQ

There's hope for all those incels stuck with RWS Trados Studio, Memsource, Wordfast, OmegaT and a host of other horrors if they are willing to make a change....

Not surprisingly, dates can be a real nuisance to translate and check, depending on the client's specifications. Target language specifications that include the use of elements such as non-breaking spaces can be particularly troublesome. But even apparently simple tasks like writing all dates in the target language as DDMonth-AbbreviatedYYYY or the like can go wrong far more than expected, and skilled reviewers easily get caught up in the flow of the text and overlook details of format (and often even correct content) in dates. This proved to be a shock to one LSP client who found hundreds of overlooked date errors in a large volume of recently reviewed text.

What's the solution to these inevitable human errors? Proper automation of the monkey work so professionals can concentrate on what they are good at: a fluent text that accurately reflects the intent of the original.

In the case of the QA horror of checking four source languages to ensure the dog's breakfast of date input formats (which also included day+month and month+year entries) regardless of capitalization, memoQ enabled a simple auto-translation ruleset to be created (a few hours' work, including testing and documentation); this was then attached to a project using a QA profile configured to check only against the enabled auto-translation rules, and BOOM! after about a minute, all the date errors in something like 100,000 translated words were revealed. The only false positives found were a few instances where times were written after the date, and the rule can be updated easily to avoid this issue.

I do a lot of date rule development for many languages, and I've published some of this in simplified forms on this blog. But interesting new tricks come up all the time. And I've found it useful when developing rules for others, who usually understand little about writing proper specifications that capture all the likely source input, to create special screening rules like the one shown in the first screenshot, which can be used to examine an entire large TM imported to the memoQ working grid, and see how the input and target texts vary. I used that expression on two large TMs in a view, and in just a few seconds, my laptop screen showed me all renderings of every English date in those TMs into Portuguese. While researching target formats for some new rules I also found quite a number of errors in the TM which I could have corrected had I cared to.

Having rules like this available in the translation phase can prevent quite a few errors to start with. I've found too many cases of dates in March translated as May and overlooked by both the translator and the reviewers. memoQ is - as far as I know - the only tool which will offer such conversions in a results table from which they can be inserted just like any other "terminology hit".

Other tools like RWS TradoZe Studio will allow you to use regular expressions for quality assurance (checking the text), but I'm not aware of any tool other than memoQ which allows you not only to include these checks in customized QA profiles but which can also provide them for on-the-fly review from a library of named expressions. That's what memoQ now does in version 9.8 (scheduled for release in June, within a few weeks) as shown in the first screenshot above.

This new rules library feature of memoQ makes it possible for the first time for users who have a life which does not involve wasting brain cells learning to program regular expressions to use the efforts of those who actually like that sort of thing and do it well. So with this tool, anyone can easily check for things like date errors and a lot more without knowing a single bit of regex syntax. That's some progress :-)

Stuff like dates just keeps getting better for memoQ users, leaving them more time for life and better stuff... like other kinds of dates.

If this kind of thing interests you, I think my friend Marek Pawelec may be teaching an in-person course in regular expressions for memoQ in July of this year, and he, I and others (including memoQ's Business Services unit) are available to help you with turnkey solutions to project challenges like those described here.

Jun 3, 2021

A Hebrew abbreviations "hint base" points the way for other languages

Years ago I published a guideline for how to create something like a term base for memoQ that can handle the irregularities one might find in the way German attorneys on tight deadlines might type the many abbreviations they use in crazy ways. The memoQ term base model can't cope with punctuation and many special characters, so it's basically impossible to use it to map something like "US-$" to the standard currency code "USD". But regular expressions in an auto-translation rule can do that, of course.

The same principle can be used simply to map abbreviations to their full expression so the translator can decode the abbreviation and decide how to render it. Here's an example of that in Hebrew:

This can, of course, be done in other languages, but the fellow who had this idea and asked me about it happens to be a Hebrew translator working into several target languages. I'm tempted to adapt one of my German abbreviation sets to map to the full German expression in the target to serve as an aid to translators who might not be as familiar with the abbreviations as I am and who are also not bound strictly to a particular target language expression. A cheat sheet, basically, or a "hint base" if there is such a thing.

The code for this is particularly simple. Here's a quick look at the resource in an external editor:

The basic "engine" is just a list (#abbreviations#). And the resource was created quickly using search and replace on a list of over 600 abbreviations in an Excel spreadsheet.

In the awful memoQ rule editor it looks like this:

Those who know Hebrew may note that some periods are out of place. I'm not an RTL expert, so I had a few issues with punctuation migrating as I moved data from one format to another, but someone familiar with issues like that can fix things without much ado. This was just a quick prototype to demonstrate feasibility. And a few minutes of search and replace work in a text editor beats entering more than 600 pairs manually in the built-in editor for memoQ. It would be nice if that damned editor included list import features that would read Excel files directly!

As with other auto-translation rules, certain characters may need to be represented by entities or uuencoding. The simple rule shown above can also be made more robust by dealing with variable punctuation, for example. Complexity can always be added. 

Many thanks to the translator colleague who shared his challenge and gave me something fun to do after a grueling day of mapping many messed-up date formats from a lot of different source languages I mostly don't know :-)

May 22, 2021

Richard Delaney on "SHALL"


Legal translators and those who aspire to be are often confronted with arguments over the use of the word shall in legal documents such as contracts. Here, my esteemed colleague in translation, attorney Richard Delaney, offers his sensible and rather comprehensive perspective on the use of shall and purported alternatives.

The text of his guest post was originally part of a social media discussion in which participants felt it would be a shame for such an excellent explanation to disappear into the scrolling void as so many things often do.

Richard Delaney:

Below please find a brief summary of the main reasons I like shall, and do not believe that the alternatives come close:

1) (Lack of) Ambiguity:

If I say "shall we have a cup of tea" or "we shall see" that implies no obligation, it is merely a question or a statement. If I use "shall" in a contract, it implies a clear, contractual, future obligation. Ideally I would steer away from such ambiguity; however, the fact that "shall" is now almost extinct in normal usage means that it is now considerably less ambiguous than it might once have been. Particularly in contracts, or legal writing generally, there is virtually no other meaning that can be attributed to "shall" other than a contractually agreed future obligation of a party;

2) Lack of suitable alternatives:

All of the alternatives that are frequently suggested have drawbacks:

"should" - this means something else (and the German "soll" is a frequent mistranslation into German, where "shall" is often misunderstood to mean "should"). "Should" suggests a preferred approach, but does not impose any firm obligation. While there have been court decisions in Germany that "soll" is an indication of the standard situations, which should only be deviated from in exceptional circumstances, but crucially "should" DOES allow a certain amount of flexibility. It is basically saying "It would be nice if you could do that, and we would really appreciate it if you could try, but don't worry too much if you can't".

"will" - "will" is one of the suggested alternatives touted by Garner. It has the advantage of corresponding more or less with the German usage and of being a more commonly used word, but semantically the meaning is different. "Will" is a statement of fact, not one of obligation. Drafting a contract, however, is rarely done by anyone clairvoyant, who can actually predict what "will" happen. Of course "will" can be used in contracts, to set out what certain consequences are ("In the event that raw materials are not delivered in time, the Purchaser will have to suspend operations until such time as new raw materials have been delivered..."), but it is unsuitable to express a contractual obligation. Even if one argued that "will" is regularly used to describe future intentions, and claiming that only a clairvoyant could properly use it is overly semantically pedantic, it still fails to impose the obligation aspect of "shall". Stating that "Party A will deliver 25 tons of bananas without abnormal curvature per calendar year" is merely a statement. It might be useful if I describe the setting to a third party I want to enter into business with (for example a publisher for banana dessert recipes), for whom that information is of interest. However, in a contract with Party A, that statement, although expressing some future intent, fails to impose any firm obligation to do so. Arguably any such obligation might be implied if the contract includes certain sanctions for any failure of Party A to deliver, but then it is necessary to construe "will" by using context, rather than having the semantic clarity of "shall".

"must" - this is actually my favourite alternative, if one had to opt for one, as it clearly imposes the obligation, it also makes it clear that this is something that HAS to be done, rather than something that WILL be done. However, "must" also has a slightly different meaning, as it describes a necessary element, rather than merely an obligatory one. "Must" is a practical precondition, while "shall" is merely an obligation. So, I might say "The translation must be delivered before 9 a.m., as any later submissions will be discarded", or "a supervisor must be present before any heavy machinery may be operated" - in either example, a failure to comply will make the intended action (legally) impossible. Obligations that are phrased in the "shall" form, on the other hand, are contractual obligations, but a breach of those obligations does not result in a complete impossibility of the intended action. It is a little bit like conditions and warranties in a contract- one entitles you to terminate, the other merely entitles you to damages.

I am a firm believer that "will" and "must" (and to a lesser extent "should") do have their place in contracts, but their meaning is slightly different to that of "shall". If one tries to substitute any of the alternatives, that increases ambiguity (while the stated aim of using these alternatives is to simplify the language used), and impoverishes the language. To my mind that is counterproductive.

3) Retention of style

Of course things change, language usage changes, and legal style changes. I don't have any objection to that- on the contrary, I think that a lot of the moves towards more comprehensible legal language are commendable. However, English contracts have traditionally been written slightly differently to, say, German contracts. In English legal language we don't have the convention of using the present indicative to express a party's obligations (so while a German text might say "Party A delivers 25 tonnes of bananas a year", this statement, which would be a clear expression of a contractual obligation in German, would likely only be read as a statement of fact in English. An obligation would be expressed as "Party A shall deliver... "). While stylistic conventions can obviously be changed, I see it as again being counterproductive, as it is more likely to lead to more confusion, rather than reducing it.

That is why, all things considered, I still favour using "shall".


The author of this guest post is a respected expert on German and British English legal language, offering a range of consulting, translation and education services. Information on the current seminar program of his partnership can be found here.

May 8, 2021

The official memoQ blog


There's been a lot more activity lately on the official blog for memoQ, maintained by the software artists formerly known as Kilgray. Some really good stuff too. The blog has existed for years, but I never added it to the blog roll here (see the left sidebar, down a bit), because various technical issues prevented updates from being seen as new content was added. And it also wasn't really that active, as the principal team members were focused on day to day matters of support and development.

But as the rest of the CAT tools market has increasingly come to resemble episodes of Star Trek: TNG, with RWS now playing the role of the Borgs as they  swallow one company after another, purge management of competence and independent thinking, then move on to the next anti-competitive, destructive acquisition, the last remaining independent CAT tool vendor with no compromising ties to intragroup LSPs competing with its technology customers, has really started getting its act together again.

Since the reorganization of memoQ Ltd. and the appointment of co-CEOs – co-founder Balázs Kis and Peter Reynolds – the company has been focused once again on its growing "technical debt", much to the relief of key staff with whom I've discussed development privately. 

Communication has become clearer and more consistent, and it looks like the good path of managing the flagship product memoQ, which really became apparent with the version 8.4 release under the competent coordination of Senior Product Owner Zsolt Varga and which has continued its winning streak making the software more flexible and responsive for evolving project needs. And the new Customer Marketing Manager Cedomir Pusica is strongly focused on making learning assets better and more accessible, expressing a strong interest in building a stronger user base through real, best practice education resources. I am very, very encouraged by most of what I see this year.

So check out their blog. There have been times lately when I read something there and thought "Damn, wish I had written that. Good job!" That wasn't such a frequent thought in years past, when it was sometimes clear that the post writer didn't really understand the features being discussed. What I read now meets my personal standards for useful content. (I admit to having some catch-up to do with the reading, but every time I look now, I end up smiling.)

I'll still be writing my own stuff on memoQ in my own way and doing education and consulting for friends and colleagues in the sector at all levels as before. But in recent years, after the retirement of my companheira, my energies are less invested in public matters, and only a small part of my writing, tutorial video work, custom development and whatnot is released publicly. There is a backlog of some hundreds of draft blog articles and many hours of raw and edited research video, recorded webinars and online tutorials that only occasionally see light with a few individuals who need them.

Really, its time to absorb what's useful out there, make it your own in your own professional environment and your own languages. Large parts of the translation sector remind me a bit of the Republican Party in the US, campaigning on their own Big Lies with regard to "AI", NMT and other recent fads, with an utter disregard of ethical issues and serious, disturbing occupational health concerns for those working with machine-generated texts (cf. Bevan et alia and published research at the University of Groningen, Netherlands, for example). It's really about the concentration of power and the disenfranchisement of individual professionals when you think about it. RWS: "You will be absorbed!" Renato B.: "Quality doesn't matter!" TWB: "Screw the local service markets, we need your free work to feed the machine translation engines of our corporate sponsors!" "BOHICA, baby!" And so on. Same as it ever was.

In the midst of all that noise, the memoQ team still offers a signal that can guide real professionals to better ways of working and less frustration. Sometimes it's hard to pick that signal up, but it is indeed there. And with improvements to their blog and a renewed commitment to serviceable education, that signal is getting stronger

Apr 19, 2021

Free webinar: memoQ Server skills for teams!


Note: this webinar has already taken place. A download link for the presentation slides (with links to unlisted instructional videos) is available below, as is some Q&A from the live session... there will be an online course offered soon for teams and project managers using memoQ Servers, so watch this blog for the announcement.

This Friday (April 23rd, 2021 at 2 pm Central European Time), I'll be giving an English-language talk via Zoom discussing my approach to using the memoQ Server and teaching others to do so for workflows involving small teams. These might be groups of collaborating independent service providers, in-house and freelance staff supporting translation and editing services in corporations or at boutique translation agencies, or university and continuing education courses with instructors and a group of student PMs and translators. This talk is not designed to cover the perceived needs of behemoths inhabiting the bulk market bog. 

I will discuss the use of the memoQ Server and the hosted memoQ Cloud service with particular attention on user management, permissions, project workflows and resource availability. The last point also includes ideas for using a memoQ server as a platform to make some working "light resources" available which may be beyond the scope of a particular project.

There is no charge for the live webinar, though there will be a fee for those who wish to obtain a downloadable copy later. The recording will also be part of the reference resources provided in a professional continuing education course to be announced soon after some details on certified hour credits are worked out with the relevant Portuguese labor authorities and their representatives.

Register for the webinar here:

(registration now closed - see below for the presentation slides and Q&A)

I welcome all of you who are able to join me this week, and any others who may attend the online server skills course later or have particular training or problem-solving needs in this area.


Lecture slides can be downloaded HERE.


Questions & answers from the session:

What does "CAL" mean for licenses?
These are "floating" licenses, not attached to a specific user unless you assign them. 
(from Ellen Singer) : CAL (Concurrent Access Licensing)

Does a separate translator login also work when you want to work in your local client and only have a PM license and Webtrans licenses for a memoQ cloud subscription, No Translator Pro?
In that case you can assign a CAL license for some period of time (see the screenshot above), and this will make it available for offline use in a desktop edition of memoQ. For a basic memoQ Cloud subscription with just the PM license, it would be that PM license assigned (presumably) to you.

What are the advantages of a privately-run / hosted MemoQ server, over MemoQ cloud?
Several perhaps.
  • You have full control over all file paths. You don't have access to all file paths in memoQ Cloud. The only place I can see where that makes a real difference is when changing default resources as I described in my old blog post on that subject, but I think that is an important option for many company teams.
  • Maybe some economic advantage in the short or long run. A memoQ Server at your site represents a significant capital investment, and there are maintenance fees (about 20% of acquisition cost, isn't it?) incurred each year for support and upgrades. A memoQ Cloud subscription is a fairly manageable expense if it's small, but with a lot of licenses or added options like Qterm, customer portal, etc. it can be a pretty hefty monthly expense, though one which can be adjusted up or down as needed. And memoQ Cloud subscriptions can be suspended or reactivated as needed. Really, you would have to model the costs of each approach in a spreadsheet (or similar manner of calculation) to compare and determine definitively which approach gives you the greatest advantage.

    I do believe that even for owners/operators of private memoQ Servers, the memoQ Cloud subscription (trial or paid) offers a superb platform for testing new versions, other "sandbox" work including development which will not endanger your production server and arms-length special projects with outside partners.

Can you create an unlimited number of Users, regardless of the number of licenses you purchased?
Indeed you can. Configured user logins can be configured in any number and have nothing whatsoever to do with any number of licenses you may have available. But if your access maximum for licenses has been reached at any given time, a configured user may have to wait some time until a current active (logged-in) user logs off the server so somebody else can get in to work.

We’ve been using mQ Server for a while now, and you tackled a few very interesting points. (Esp. concerning access control in case of PM accounts.)
With regard to access, I think there are two very important things to do, remember, configure, etc.
  • Use separate logins for your work as a PM or administrator and any work you may do as a translator/reviewer. These can have the same password for your convenience if you like. But for God's sake, use TWO SEPARATE LOG-INS. This will help you "stay in your lane" for a given role and prevent accidents. If you are logged in using an account that has project manager or administrative access privileges, you cannot easily tell sometimes (or may overlook) where you ought not to be working, and this can lead to difficulties.
  • "Permissions" can be used to restrict or enable access to any memoQ resources available on the server. This is not an easy topic to get your head around if you are unfamiliar with how permissions and access work in general on computers, especially in server environments, and anything you configure should be tested to ensure that you got the configuration right. The memoQ Help is rather good on this point and should be read and re-read and re-read and re-read carefully, and if there are doubts remaining, ask memoQ Support or other experts for advice.

    A useful example of using "permissions" might be to assign an individual "Review" privileges to a specific TM or term base, enabling that person to do many maintenance operations on that resource which might otherwise be possible only with PM or general "terminologist" access. This approach would give a specialist for a rare language access to the specified resource(s) at a higher level, but that person's access would be more limited for other, similar resources (assuming there is no relevant group membership assigned that would provide such access.

Is it possible to do bulk changes to the permissions of more than one server resource at once?
Yes. Select the resources desired by control-clicking (for a discontinuous group) or shift-clicking (for a range in the list) and choose the "Set permissions" command. Changes made should apply to all the resources selected.

You mentioned a book on MemoQ. If so, can you let me have the title.
The book I mentioned in this talk is Marek Pawelec's excellent guide to the use of machine translation resources - including the extremely valuable pseudotranslation function. Information on that guide can be found here.

Feb 24, 2021

A memoQ must-have: the definitive guide to MT use!

People who know me and my work know that I have a very low opinion of machine translation use in most language service situations. Even in the best scenarios, it offers no value to me in my routine work as a translator of scientific and intellectual property texts (patent filings and litigation mostly). So why am I totally excited about the new e-book by my friend and colleague Marek Pawelec? For several reasons.

  • MT discussions bore the crap out of me. But when Marek asked me to review a pre-release copy, I was actually entertained by his clear, concise writing and the superb way he explained basic concepts of resource management in general that most memoQ users still don't master. I was shocked at how much fun I had reading about a subject I hate!
  • He talks about more than just how to configure memoQ to use DeepL, Gargle Trashlate or some other MT engine. He details strategies and best practices for effective use that many people might not be aware of. He talks about how to circumvent prohibitions on MT use and how to catch people who do that. And more. I didn't learn something on every page, but it's probably not an exaggeration to say I did on every other one.
  • Pseudo-translation using a special plug-in for the Pre-translation step is covered in wonderful detail. This technique has been very important to my work for nearly 20 years now. I use it to identify hard-coded interface strings in software I translate and to check and quote large documents that might have paragraphs or whole pages scanned and inserted as graphics that look like editable text - or charts whose text can be selected in the document but never show up on the memoQ working grid after import. Marek also discusses other uses of pseudo-translation I never thought of (layout checks, for example) which could have saved me a lot of grief over the years.
The only complaint I have about this book is that it's too cheap. The author teaches me more in its 36 pages than most can in 200 pages, and the learning is worth a Hell of a lot more to my business than fifty cents per page. Anyone else would probably have written much more and communicated far less of value, but that's a special gift that Marek has. Long ago, his talk at a memoQ Fest was the first time that regular expressions (regex) made any sense to me (as a casual programmer for about 40 years at the time I had approached the topic many times and mostly just found confusion). There aren't many people in this world who can take complex topics and make them seem simple and interesting to nearly anyone. Marek can. Richard Feynman could. I can't name many more on that list.

So... all I can really add is to tell you to go spend €18 here:

The value you'll receive as a memoQ user at any level, even if you never use machine translation, is a large multiple of that price.

Update 2021-03-22
The Polish version of the book is now available at:

Jan 25, 2021

Is it worthwhile to upgrade to a newer version of memoQ?


I am often surprised how many people still work with very old versions of memoQ, though I shouldn't be. Royalties continue to dribble in from books I wrote covering memoQ versions 6 and 2013 R2, and I still see questions from people using versions 4 and 5 as many of us anticipate the release of version 10 later in 2021. In several of the guides I wrote, I tried to give a summary of important changes in versions which are relevant to individual translators, but that's really a rather subjective, moving target and a somewhat thankless task. Well, that task is now a little easier, and you can handle it yourself.

The new "memoQ Features You Missed" web page makes version comparisons a lot easier. In some cases.

Unfortunately, the current version of this page only permits comparisons from the horrible 8.0 ("Adriatic") version or later to the present version. I can hack the URL to make it appear that a comparison is made from version 6.0, for example, but only features introduced in version 8.1 or later will be listed. It is, nonetheless, rather useful for most of us.

I hope that the company adds more information to cover older versions, because - as stated - there are still quite a few people out there on rather old versions, and a more complete summary of improvements might prove helpful in decisions to upgrade.

This page has also helped to settle a few arguments about the extent to which some recent versions are useful or not to individual translators doing particular types of assignments. The most recent version changes have been largely focused on server-based processes of little relevance to individuals in most cases, but for certain specialties there have been new features of good value introduced.

I expect that the value of this tool - if it is maintained by the software provider - will continue to increase with time. It will certainly save ME a lot of time answering questions about whether it is "worthwhile" to upgrade.

Jan 8, 2021

memoQ Courses, Resources & Consulting at Translation Tribulations Tech

The new online school offers a variety of resources for new and experienced users of desktop and server editions

For many years now, I have advocated for better professional education for users of translation process support software at every level. I have tested curriculum delivery platforms, better ways of making information more accessible to those who need it, and more. In a limited scope, this has been a successful effort.

My greatest hope in these efforts was to encourage professional associations, technology providers and universities to do better by their clientele. I would judge the success there as mixed, at best. The wind of change discussed, for many of them, could fill one's sails... for a voyage off the edge of their flat Earth. Their reluctance to provide even minimal indexes for navigating copious video content is simply baffling, as an example.

Even with the current pandemic, I have seen little progress, though that may be as much for reasons such as those which kept me largely silent last year. It's hard to think about doing things better when you have to ask honestly which of the people you care for will be lost because of the refusal of so many national governments to do so.

In any case, I've always been one to advocate more personal involvement. If a person says they're hungry, give them food and listen to their stories. Cash may not be the answer. The courses, consulting and resources offered through my license of the Teachable platform will cover much of issues and assistance for which I have been an advocate in the translation sector for two decades. I also hope to involve other language service educators to offer their unique and valuable approaches in this venue. This is not to compete with any existing associations or companies, but rather to continue to show them how we can all work together to help users develop the competence and confidence so often needed and not found.

This, like all of us, is a work in progress. Check out Translation Tribulations Tech (here, or by clicking the school graphic at the top) and see if anything there provides missing elements for your professional toolkit.

Some of the initial offerings include:
Additional courses, consulting and tools for
  • regular expressions as an aid for translation of patterned information like currency expressions, dates, legal citations, coded information, etc.
  • better source document segmentation in projects
  • memoQ server basics for collaborating groups and small companies
  • memoQ and other technology for legal translation
will be available soon.

This platform provides a long-needed mechanism for providing more detailed learning assistance than I have enjoyed with this blog and my YouTube channel, and future publication habits on my part will reflect that. I'm excited about many ideas for moving ahead in quick and quicker steps with memoQ and so many other resources that many of us depend on for professional relief and productivity.

Jan 6, 2021

MemoQ Users Ideas Portal

Editor's note and update (June 12, 2021): This thing is now called the memoQ Users' Ideas Portal and can be accessed HERE.

A bit of background. I attended memoQFest 2019, and during and after this event, a group of us got into discussion, and I compiled a list of features we would like to see added. At this time, memoQ appointed two new people to oversee its development pathway, and the idea of a development portal came up. It was very slow to take form, and I believe an error was to admit that no new suggestions would be considered until 2020.

Well, here we are now in 2021. The portal exists, and I encourage you to use it, to put forward proposals for new features, and make comments on other people's suggestions. At present, you need to e-mail (contact e-mail updated on 7 September 2021) to get access. A point raised by one of memoQ's chief developers is that we should try to explain what we want to do, not how - that's their job. Another request was to try to indicate how much work our new feature would save.

In closing, I've heard the complaint that we freelancers should have more influence on CAT development. As an informed outsider, I'd estimate that about 20% of the top players' turnover comes from us, so perhaps our demands should be tempered a little.

Tweeting away....

Got up this morning to not altogether unexpected good news that the Empire of MAGATs has fallen:


Yeah. Life is starting to feel normal again despite the usual continued death and destruction. But what does one do with babies if not put them in cages? 

A course announcement for terminology users in memoQ (i.e. any sensible user):
... which leads one to ask: How do I get there? Well, try this: