Once again, my friends at memoQ Ltd., the software artists formerly known as Kilgray, are offering a great deal:
Jun 21, 2021
Once again, my friends at memoQ Ltd., the software artists formerly known as Kilgray, are offering a great deal:
Jun 12, 2021
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:
It looks like #memoQ is getting its shit together for user feedback on how to improve. I was properly introduced to the new Ideas Portal yesterday and find it encouraging.https://t.co/YcfgiWpgLp pic.twitter.com/Qfm4cF0dbI— Kevin Lossner (@GermanENTrans) June 12, 2021
This thing really does look good, and I don't mean just its clean appearance:
This seems like a much more reasonable approach to user feedback than "send your suggestions to a support address so we can promptly shred it". Fingers crossed that we can get non-LSP oriented features & QoL improvements! #l10n https://t.co/hqKE1bqCz4— Lucile Danilov (@JustAnotherTL) June 12, 2021
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....
Jun 5, 2021
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
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:
May 22, 2021
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.
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".
May 8, 2021
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!" ProZ.com: "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
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.
Questions & answers from the session:
These are "floating" licenses, not attached to a specific user unless you assign them.(from Ellen Singer) : CAL (Concurrent Access Licensing)
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 Polish version of the book is now available at: https://payhip.com/b/RWcC
Jan 25, 2021
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
|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.
- re-released help guides I've written for learning memoQ, including some material in Portuguese. The link provided here is for a bundle which includes books and courses.
- a course with quick tips for maximizing terminology leverage in memoQ
- consulting which provides quick, affordable glossary building support for projects
- a special memoQ ergonomics course to improve user experience and efficiency
- 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
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
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.
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.
Got up this morning to not altogether unexpected good news that the Empire of MAGATs has fallen:
... which leads one to ask: How do I get there? Well, try this:
Course re-opened for enrollment:#memoQuickies: On Better Terms with #memoQ— Kevin Lossner (@GermanENTrans) January 6, 2021
The real deal for better #terminology leverage in #translation#xl8 #translate #l10n #Localization #LocalEyeshttps://t.co/bxpu6FhT1U pic.twitter.com/KtmmqW3OFU
Check out the CAT skills courses and consulting services at #Translation Tribulations Tech. #1 in #memoQ productivity on desktops and servers.#l10n #xl8 #translate https://t.co/76kcL1UAgK pic.twitter.com/xMa3iBuGNK— Kevin Lossner (@GermanENTrans) January 6, 2021