Nov 26, 2023

memoQ term base "roundup" chat


The last of the planned office hour discussions for the self-guided online course "memoQuickies Resource Camp" will be held on November 27th at 17:00 CET (8:00 PST). For those not already registered for the Zoom chats, the link to do that is HERE. If you have done so previously, the access URL is the same. The chat is open to everyone, regardless of whether they are registered or not in the online course.

We'll begin with open Q&A time on any of the course sections in the term base unit or any other presentations of the subject matter by me on this blog or my YouTube channel. Afterward, I will show my general method for editing or updating term base content via Microsoft Excel exports brought in to the memoQ working grid, which facilitates certain kinds of changes or actions involving regular expression use. This goes beyond the possibilities of the integrated memoQ term base editor, which will also be presented briefly.

A recording of the talk will be made available later in the course structure.

In December the course will move on to discussions of QA profiles and other aspects of quality assurance in memoQ, with some live discussion possibilities to be announced. All course material will remain online for access until the end of March. More information on the memoQuickies Resource Camp can be found HERE.

Nov 25, 2023

Book review: "Terminology Extraction for Translation and Interpretation Made Easy"

A few months ago, I received a pre-release copy of this book as a courtesy from the author, terminologist Uwe Muegge, with a request to give a quick language check to the English used by its native German author. As I expected, there wasn't much to complain about, because he has lived in the US for a long time and taught at university there as well as been involved in important corporate roles. I was particularly pleased by his disciplined style of writing, the plain, consistent English of the text and the overall clarity of the presentation. Anyone with good basic English skills should have no difficulty understanding and applying the material.

At the time I read the draft, I was completely focused on language use and style, but I found his approach and suggestions interesting, so I looked forward to "field testing" and direct comparisons with my usual approach to terminology mining with that feature in memoQ. About a day's worth of tests shows very interesting potential for applying the ChatGPT section of the book and also made the context and relevance of the other two sections clearer, I will discuss those sections first before getting to the part that interests me the most.

Uwe presents three approaches:
I wouldn't really call these three approaches alternatives as the book does, because all three operate in very different ways and are fit for different purposes. That didn't register fully in my mind when I was in "editor mode", although the first part of the book made the differences, advantages and disadvantages clear enough, but as soon as I began using each of the sites, the differences were quite apparent as were the similarities to more familiar tools like memoQ's term extraction module.

Wordlist from Webcorp is functionally similar to Laurence Anthony's AntConc or memoQ's term extraction. It's essentially useful for getting frequency lists of words, but the inability to use my own stopword lists for filtering out uninteresting common vocabulary makes me prefer my accustomed desktop tools. However, the barriers to first acquaintance or use are lower than for AntConc or memoQ, so this would probably be a better classroom tool for introducing concepts of word frequencies and identifying possible useful terminology on that basis.

OneClick Terms was interesting to me mostly because friends and acquaintances in academia talk about Sketch Engine a lot. The results were similar to what I get with memoQ, including similar multiword "trash terms". I found the feature for term extraction from bilingual texts particularly interesting, and the fact that it can work well on the TMX files distributed by the Directorate-General for Translation (DGT) of the European Commission suggests that it could be an efficient tool for building glossaries to support translation referencing EU legislation, for example, though I expect only slight advantages over my usual routine with memoQ. These advantages are not worth the monthly subscription fee to me. However, for purposes of teaching and comparison, the inclusion of this platform in the book is helpful. I see more value for academic institutions and those rare large volume translation companies that do a lot of work with EU resources. 

ChatGPT was an interesting surprise. I have a very low opinion of its use as a writing tool (mediocre on its best day, clumsy and boring in nearly all its output) or for regex composition (hopelessly incompetent for what I need, and anything it does right for regex is newbie stuff for which I need no support). However, as a terminology research tool I have found excellent potential, though formatting the results can be problematic.

My testing was done with ChatGPT 3.5, not a Professional subscription with access to version 4.0. However, I am sorely tempted to try the subscription version to see if it is able to handle some formatting instructions (avoiding unnecessary capitalization) more efficiently. No matter how carefully I try to stipulate no default capitalization of the first letter of every expression, I inevitably have to repeat the instruction after a list of improperly capitalized candidate terms is created.

I keep an e-book copy of Uwe's book in the Kindle app on my laptop, so I can simply copy and paste his suggested prompts, then add whatever additional instructions I want.

The prompt
Please examine the text below carefully and list words or expressions which may be difficult to translate, but when writing the list, do not capitalize any words or expressions which don't require capitalization.

is too long, and only the part marked red is executed correctly, but this follow-up prompt will fix the capitalization in the list:

Please re-examine that text and this time when writing the list, do not capitalize any words or expressions which do not require capitalization.

Further tests involved suggesting translations for the expressions, with or without a translated text and building tables with example sentences:

Other prompt variations, for example to write terms bold in the example sentences, worked without complications.

What about the quality of the selections? Well, I used memoQ's term extraction module on the same text I submitted to ChatGPT for term extraction in order to compare something with which I am quite familiar with this new process. 

memoQ identified a few terms based on frequency, which ChatGPT ignored, but these were arguably terms that a qualified specialist would have known anyway. And ChatGPT did a superior job of selecting multi-word expressions with no "noise". It also selected some very relevant single-occurrence phrases which might be expected to arise more in later, similar texts.

Split screen review of memoQ extraction vs. ChatGPT results

The split-screenshot is an intermediate result from one of my many tests. The overlayed red box was intended to show a conversation partner the limits of ChatGPT's "alphabetizing skill", and the capitalization of the German is not correct after a prompt to correct the capitalization of adjectives misfired. It is not always trivial to get formatting exactly as I want it. However, looking at the results of each program side-by-side like this showed me that ChatGPT had in fact identified the nearly all the most relevant single words and phrases in my text. And for other texts with dates or citation formats, these were also collected by ChatGPT as "relevant terms", giving me an indication of what legislation I might want to use as reference documents and what auto-translation rules might also be helpful.

I also found that the split view as above helped me to work my way through the noise in the memoQ term candidate list much faster and make decisions about which terms to accept. The terms of interest found in memoQ but not selected by ChatGPT were few enough that I am not at all tempted to suggest people follow my traditional approach with the memoQ term extraction module and skip the work with ChatGPT.

My preferred approach would be to do a quick screening in ChatGPT, import the results into a provisional (?) term base and then, as time permits, use that resource in a memoQ term extraction to populate the target fields in the extraction grid. With those populated terms in place, I think the review of the remaining candidates would proceed much more efficiently.

All in all, I found Uwe's book to be a useful reference for teaching and for my personal work; it is one of the few texts I have seen on LLM use which is sober and modest enough in its claims that I was inspired to test them. The sale price is also well within anyone's means: about $10 for the e-book and $16 for the paperback on Amazon. For the "term curious" without access to professional grade tools, it's a great place to get started building better glossaries and for more seasoned wordworkers it offers interesting, probably useful suggestions.

The book is available HERE from Amazon.

Oct 18, 2023

An Unfiltered Look at memoQ Filters (webinar, 19 October 2023, 15:00 CET)


This presentation and discussion covered some of the challenges and opportunities to improve memoQ project workflows through correct filter choice and design. There are many different aspects to filters in memoQ, and the right choices for a given translatable file or project are not always clear, or different options may offer particular advantages in your situation.

Cascading filters - an important feature for dealing with complex source texts - are also part of the talk, not just the basics but also examples of going beyond what visible memoQ features allow, to do "the impossible". This session is part of the weekly open office hours for the course "memoQuickies Resource Camp", but everyone is welcome to attend these talks regardless of enrollment status. Those interested in full access to all the course resources and teaching may enroll until the end of January 2024.

To join sessions for the October and November office hours, register here.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. 

Here is an edited recording of the October 19th session, with a time-coded index available on YouTube in the Description field:

Oct 5, 2023

What's wrong with my segmentation (in translation)?

The fifth open office hours session for the self-guided online course "memoQuickies Resource Camp" discussed segmentation problems with documents imported to translation environments such as memoQ, Trados Studio, Phrase, Cafetran Espresso, etc. and various ways that these issues might be identified so that they can be corrected.

Segmentation problems waste enormous amounts of time, and bad segmentation rules are a plague on the translation and localization service community. Unfortunately, nearly all the rules I have seen, for all working environments, simply suck sewage. memoQ's rules usually suck less, but still....

This week's talk presented, among other things, some methods for identifying segmentation trouble spots quickly and easily with the use of special regular expressions describing common patterns followed by texts with troubled segmentation. And a Regex Assistant library has been provided (and will be updated during the course period) to help with all of this.

The video and related course pages will remain completely open to the public, with downloads available, at least through the end of 2023. After that the pages and resources may be taken down for updates and reorganization in other courses.

The video recording of the lecture "What's wrong with my segmentation?" can be accessed on YouTube (embedded below) or course participants can access the page to download it by clicking the "segmentation rules" icon at the top of this article.

An important part of checking the performance of your segmentation rules and possibly improving them is to have a good sampling of test data. One of my favorite sources for this are the European Community archives at the DGT, where EU legislation and other important information is available in a parallel corpus of all the official languages of the Community.

I have downloaded part of the 2022 DGT distribution and prepared a number of monolingual and bilingual corpora (about 2.6 million words, approximately 150,000 TUs) in EU languages and translation pairs. Moreover, information on my method has been published so that others can reproduce it for the languages that interest them.

Oct 1, 2023

Bring the lightning.

Quality is a slippery notion, especially when discussing it with those whose ethical approaches to providing services are even slipperier. According to one well-known figure in the trashlation sector, "Quality doesn't matter". Knowing that individual as I do, I know that this utterance was intended as a provocation, and that it is likely backed by some almost-persuasive sleight-of-hand involving differing definitions and whatnot. Given the variability in the human emotional perception of quality (as with obscenity, I cannot define quality, but I know it when I experience it), all of the attempts one sees to quantify it in language services seem all the more absurd.

All the myriad process definitions, ISO certifications, stamps and seals of sinlessness, diplomata, grants of honoris causa et cetera cannot transform the humble lightning bug into a Bolt of Zeus.

Nor are Large Language Models (LLMs) capable of such linguistic transubstantiation, but rather the opposite. The predictive practices at their core could take a training feed of all the world's great literature (and likely already have), and yet the output would be nothing more than an insipid averaging of the basest mediocrities. Only the basest of the mediocre could mistake such text for objectively good quality.

Were we to plot the degree of enthusiasm for AI as the "future" of trashlation against the degree of actual understanding and competence for good language, the graph would look something like this:

But a recent article in The Economist suggests a better way. Curiously, it is a process I resort to myself when the greatest subtlety and balance are needed in a work, for example in the translation of good poetry, or a letter of condolence occasioned by the loss of a belovèd child.

Back to pen on paper. Where the pressure of the nib is an expression in itself, as the sweeping flourish of a final letter or a well-executed ligature.

"But that's ABSURD!!!" some might protest, glancing nervously at their smartphone timers counting down to the next due delivery of linguistic sausage. Much too slow some might think. But is it? Really?

"But you need to run QA and you can't do that with a sheet of scribbles on paper!" some might suggest, more reasonably. Ah, but I can, merely dictate the text I will have read aloud already time and again as I refined the words and their rhythm, and then, in good electronic form, all the slings and arrows of outrageous regex are my quality arsenal.

We have a slow food movement. Perhaps if we want more delicious, digestible, properly communicative words in our translated lives, we should slow the fuck down and let them crystallize, with exquisite subconscious fractal creativity, to form bolts of emotion and understanding that pierce the veil between this world and others as they flash across a page.

As the morlocks cower in their caves and hovels, tapping tiny tablets in their claws, prompting their artificial gods to take this terror of meaning from their shriveled world.

Sep 21, 2023

Grog and grub with me mateys in Cascais

I got my personal introduction to NFTs last night over pizza in Portugal. WTF? I'm still not sure what to do with this thing I minted, nor even how to download it (if this is possible), but it was a fun bit of madness in the second (or maybe third, I'll know better when the hangover clears) of these gatherings I've attended.

They say you should keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. Well, from one perspective that makes LocLunch the perfect social opportunity for our strange times in the language service professions. I had excellent chats with someone well placed in a company that is too often the epitome of Evil Trashlation... and her Russian friend, of course. And Brazilians galore, oh my, those awful people who come to Portugal to steal all the good Catholic men and women from their sanctioned wedlocks and -chains. And I saw that the tradition of German intrigue in Portugal is alive and well maintained by the organizer of last night's event, the energetic entrepreneur Jan Hinrichs, who recently moved his family and headquarters from Madrid (where the Spanish government has lost its business plot) to this, Nossa Senhora's sacred country. Who further undermined our moral defenses with the suggestion that we all get some ice cream nearby before dispersing to our scattered night shelters.

I am thoroughly compromised by those two scoops of mango and third scoop of maracuja. And by the kindness of the Russian fellow who saved me from a dodgy midnight train connection and got me home safely to Benfica.

And though the table was well occupied by those who make their own rules and view the conventional trashlation sector "wisdom" with a jaundiced eye, they followed the the LocLunch Basic Rules very well. This is a social thing, not a fucking sales event. Damn. I had my elevator speech all prepared....

Where'er ye may dwell, whate'ever seas ye may sail, matey, whene'er in port or Porto, join the motley crew of LocLunch for some fine grog and grub with all cutlasses sleeping peacefuçlly in thar scabbards.


Sep 19, 2023

Flirting with a Fiverr & more

If you always want to get paid...

Payment practices are a perpetual pain in Trashlation World. What professional translator or interpreter has not, at some point, faced difficulty getting paid for work delivered. Or in my case, consultant, independent solution developer and instructor, since I retired from translation three months ago and no longer accept such tasks in the increasingly thankless environment where they are requested.

Net never has become the modus operandi of too many wankers in the NMT-AI-MOUSE Fanboy and -gurl Klub, and when B of A, Barclays, Santander of some other clan of thieves fails to provide the desired credit for the Incredible Journey to Ruin, there will always be those AI Artists Formerly Known as Trashlators who understand that in matter of money, all that really matters is mindset.

Fuck you. Pay me. Well, imagine getting paid! Isn't that exciting? Fuck you. Pay me. I'm more excited by the structure of your fucking kneecaps and how fragile it is... SET YOUR MIND TO PAY ME.

But wait, Paulie, there may be a better way!

A perpetually solvent friend who owns a couple of German service companies once shared his secret: when in doubt, demand payment in advance. When there is no doubt, demand double. But what if the prospect just walks away? Offer them a peck on the check and hold the door for them in gratitude for the grief they are about to save you.

Times are hard. But payment practices are, alas, too often limp. Like a little mushroom past its sell-by date and full of mold and other things best not named.

I'm personally fortunate not to deal with many deadbeats; avoiding business with Italian and American companies certainly helps. Well, I have a soft spot for the Portuguese, but let's not go there.

I have another problem. I had administrative work even more than I hate not getting paid, and since I acquired a retired surgeon as a billing assistant and, at about the same time, took on a new role as a trainer for incoherent billing software like SAGE, not getting paid has been a source of surprising pleasure. But our five dogs still demand food, and if it does come in bags and come on time, well... there is that extra weight I'm carrying, the Portuguese pit bull is fond of reminding me.

And I am sure that many clients and friends and friends with the misfortune to be clients keep a special dartboard with my face on it for those times I get around to writing the bill after a year of so.

Fuck you. Pay me. Well fuck you. Write the fucking bill. Yeah, right, you tell me again how all that works here in Portugal where the tax laws are so screwy that almost none of the invoicing tools typically used by translators, companies involved with language services (regardless of whether they actually provide any) in other countries are compliant with Portuguese tax law, so I often feel myself well and truly fucked.

Enter the performance platforms such as Fiverr, which I am beginning to consider for certain recurring requests where I have asked Dios for a better intake process in which people tell me exactly what they need, provide the means of doing that, including the money to pay for the electricity to drive the tools I use to reach their goal and, well, just let me get on with it and make something nice and bless them for a change.

I started toying with platformed pre-payment about four years ago, when I started using Teachable as a way to demonstrate to memoQ and others how professional tools instruction could be improved and content could be shaped in more useful ways. I may not have been successful in convincing others to Do the Right Thing, but now that I have more time on my hands and have resigned myself to take a shot at that myself and maybe actually charge for all that knowledge that so many people mint money with, I am really, really glad that the Portuguese tax mysteries are handled in a way that does not involve me at all and is completely correct. No more constant special requests for special invoices for special people in special countries and special claims on my non-existent admin time.

So, that's the news, I guess. Next time you need a training video, a dash of regex for your project soup, a magical mysterious import filter for Formats Unknown or the like, there's a process. And it's not "fuck you". That's between consenting buyers and the platforms from which they draw their services....

Sep 17, 2023

Say something, I'm using memoQ!

It's a reasonable approximation of reality to say that no good deed goes unpunished, and that can certainly be said for the team of software artists formerly known as Kilgray. The groundlings have little idea of how very concerned the machine is to deliver the right god in communion for our times. No sausage from the golden Trados calf, no. no. The right Phrase is everything, and to delve the source of Memory for this revelation is Our Life's Work.

The ways of the Great CAT who art in Hungary are a mystery, and those lacking Faith are taken aback at a lack of transparency. But I, faithful in my productivity pilgrimage, brought my offering to the High Priest in the temple. 

It was the Time of Offerings, of intelligence sacrificed to artificialities, offerings burnt before an MT God. Ours is a Merciful One, and yea though I walk slowly, very slowly through the Valley of Technical Debt I fear no loss of data, for I am not a user of Trados nor of Wordfast. In Orange Ecstasy I linger, savoring the gentle crush of bugs between my gnashing teeth.

Initiated in the Mysteries I am, the Nine to One of the mighty dollars, flowing like a river of corporate honey or puddling as piss in a petty pool on the commons. 

But our Holy Ground needs a good charge of urea to grow the next best thing, so pay all ye faithful for your SMA renewal before the end of September, when there shall be Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth as the price of memoQ and its servicre and maintenance contract increase by a modest 20% for the nifty Translator Pro version.

And fear not, for I am with you. My rod and staff are needed in the garden to prop up an apple tree, but I can offer this at least: if you blow the deadline and have to pay an extra €20 or so for the SMA renewal this year after October 1st, evidence of that in the form of a purchase invoice or somesuch which reaches me by the end of 2023 on the hidden paths of e-mail or social media will receive as a blessing a discount "coupon" worth twice and half again that for a stay at the memoQuickies Resource Camp until March 2024.

Or if the high priest ever gets back to me as he said he would, maybe there will be an alternative route. You are all nonetheless blessed that you have in your professional hands a tool, which for all its shortcomings, beats the competition to death if you know how to unlock its power (which few really do).

All the myriad GUILTY

If I were really the sort who needed someone to blame for life's tribulations, I would blame Max, though it took me forty-two years to realize that. It was that tempting little seminar he offered on Stuttgarter Schwäbisch in autumn of 1981 that drew me into the dark world of espionage and deceit and episodic madness. But really?

Perhaps I should blame my father instead for his love of books, which he so cruelly imposed on me. How dare he! A book was a sacred object, not to be defaced, and never to be stepped on. How traumatic it was then to see fellow students marking up their textbooks at university, with highlighters, pencils, four-color pens or, o horror, dog-earing the pages instead of using proper bookmarks. But as university does tend to have a corrupting influence on one's character, I was seduced by the perceived utility of the practice, and years later when I learned the term marginalia and found that it was a thing with Samuel Taylor Coleridge and other literary heroes of mine, well....

In Xanadu did Kevin Scott
A stinging margin note decree....

Damn old Sam. I blame him too. The derelict toxicodependente, bumming books and free room and board off his too-tolerant friends. Not as bad as that bloody Arab who fancied himself a Frenchie and swiped his host's suits. Oh no, I'm better than that, surely....

Oh, blame there is for all, in full measure, my friends. Form a queue, please, and wait patiently for your personal portion.

What have we here? Faith, here's an English teacher come hither, for stealing out of a French hose: come in, Janssen; here you may roast your goose.

And you, Somtow, what have you to say? Quam tauri merda.

Round about that cauldron go, in the guilty parties throw....

But as the light fades from my dying professional eyes I see at last that I bear all the guilt in mine own Temple of Sin. For I have seen darkly, but face to face now with the social engineering Instagurus of Translation I know and confess: it is my bad mindset. And my failure to practice yoga. Mea maxima culpa.

Sep 16, 2023

The memoQ Regex Assistant Revisited at 15:00 CET on 21 September 2023!


Eleven months ago I was supposed to talk about terminology in a three-hour evening class taught by one of my friends at Universidade Nova de Lisboa, but I was so excited about the progress of the quality team I was training at one of my agency clients in Portugal that I twisted what was expected to be my usual straightforward 90 minute lecture on term base best practices in memoQ into an unusual take on the role regular expressions might play in terminology management.

That was a weird one, for sure, but the potential I saw was very real. I was defining "terminology" in rather broad terms to include not only more efficient term base management based on problem patterns but also translation memory clean-up, better filtering and find/replace operations in the working grid and QA.

"What the heck has all that got to do with scary ol' REGEX?" you're probably thinking.

Well, all this was triggered by memoQ's recent release of the One Ring Thing we've been needing to unify our memoQ management processes for the routine use of regex by The Rest of Us. The Regex Assistant. The Nazgul of Trados World are surely jealous.

That quality team I was training, my friends at Linguaemundi. is headed by Inês Lucas, about whom I had heard many good things for years from her enthusiastic professors at university but whom I hadn't actually met until she was hired by the agency a few years ago. At the recent memoQ Fest in Budapest, she explained how changing the approach to regex mastery from the struggles of syntax to organizing and applying packaged solutions in well-engineered processes significantly upgraded their work capacities and reduced stress levels. When you cut the nerdy crap and focus on understanding what solutions are called for particular tasks, everything gets much easier.

I was so amazed to see people who had struggled for years to learn regex well enough for simple tasks suddenly become solution powerhouses that I put together (rather spontaneously) a series of three online 90-minute workshops, which were repeated a month later. And new refinements to these methods come each time the ideas are presented.

The raw recordings of those six workshops are included in the current online course ("memoQuickies Resource Camp"), but one - the first of six - is publicly available on YouTube, where you can have a look.

However in the memoQuickies Resource Camp, a self-guided course that is serving as a platform for me to organize and distribute the best resources from my 14 years as a memoQ user, solution provider and trainer before I retire, I'll be taking another more streamlined pass at teaching some of the best possibilities for using memoQ Regex Assistant resource libraries. The webinars offered in most weeks of the course are simply an overview of the current topic emphasized in the course and also serve as a Q&A platform and a means of offering some different perspectives on information from the self-guided units. Recordings are always added to the course for later viewing.

This coming Thursday at 15:00 Central European Time, I'll give a brief overview of the Regex Assistant much like the public YouTube video does and answer any questions that attendees might have. Further information and an event notice can be found here on LinkedIn.

You can join the webinar with this link. The meeting ID is 878 3540 2561, and the passcode is 385434

Sep 12, 2023

Save the date: IAPTI2023, 11-12 November 2023 in Timișoara, Romania

After all the chaotic Covid-induced delays, it's finally happening this year from November 11th to 12th:

Registration is now open for #IAPTI2023 in Timisoara, Romania! Network with experienced #translators and #interpreters from around the world as they share their professional insights in this amazing city.

The International Association of Translators and Interpreters (IAPTI) promotes professional ethics and best practice on every continent and is noted for speaking out on "controversial" issues when human rights and the health and professional stability of individual language service providers are at stake. 

Since I became a member in 2014, I have always enjoyed the company of some of the finest colleagues in the translation and interpreting sectors and learned so many surprising and fascinating things about specialties I would otherwise never have known. IAPTI has very often been the first to support the development of professional organizations in developing countries and for disadvantaged populations. 

Join this year's gathering in one of Romania's most beautiful cities and get with the program....

All you need to know about this year's schedule, speakers and registration policies is here:

Sep 11, 2023

memoQ "Auto-translation Roundup": 14 September 2023 at 15:00 CET


This week's public lecture for the "memoQuickies Resource Camp" on Thursday, September 14, 2023, at 3:00 p.m. Central European Time (2:00 p.m. Lisbon time) will be a summary of currently available auto-translation rules on the course pages which are open to everyone (enrolled or not) and those restricted to registered participants. This is all about getting to work now with stuff that is ready to go, and how to adapt that stuff for clients with different requirements.

So if you want to get right  down to productive work using available memoQ auto-translation rulesets in translation, review and quality assurance without wasting time on learning bloody regex, this is for you.

A recording of the talk will be available to all registered course participants afterward.

Last week's lecture, "Auto-translation Rules for Everyone", is available here.

Oh, and next week at the same time we'll be talking about the memoQ Regex Assistant and all the cool libraries available for QA, filtering, find & replace and other tasks.....

Icons of the resources covered im the memoQuickies Resource Camp

Sep 4, 2023

New online course: "memoQuickies Resource Camp"

Summer is almost over, but technically, "camping season" will continue in memoQ World until November 30th. Or maybe January 31st, depending on how you count.

Today, a three-month journey of exploration begins, covering six important kinds of resources to make work with the memoQ translation desktop and server environments more pleasant and efficient... and profitable. This self-guided online course will give participants full access to my 14 years of cumulative experience as a memoQ user translating, managing projects and developing hundreds of solutions with this world-leading productivity tool.

Click here or on the icon bar above to have a look at the course description and to see (and maybe download) some of the publicly available information and resources for better work in many language pairs. 

The emphasis of teaching will shift to a new resource every two weeks (with auto-translation rules as the main topic for the first two weeks), but throughout the course, information will be added continuously to all topic sections as I trawl through, sort, upgrade and publish the best or most interesting stuff from my archives. And course participants have access to open virtual office hours each week on Thursdays and some other occasions, where any questions can be asked and special requests made.

A special enrollment discount of 40% is available for the first week (code: HALFOFFLAUNCH) until September 10th, but you can join at any time and work with any of the material posted, ask questions and receive feedback. Learning material and downloadable, ready-to-use and -adapt resources will continue to be added until the end of November, and the full course will remain online through January 2024. Enrollment fees and content are subject to change without notice.

Addendum 1: On Thursday afternoon, September 7th, 2023, a presentation was made to introduce the first course topic - "Auto-translation Rules for Everyone". The recording and slides can be found here.

Addendum 2: Payment options for groups and monthly budgets have been introduced now. These options enable teams, departments and organizations to obtain blocks of passes for their members to receive continuing professional education in translation workflow tools. The host site applies VAT and other taxes where relevant and generates appropriate invoices. All relevant information can be found at the bottom of the information and enrollment page.

May 20, 2023

Taking the trash out of trashlation in translation

Let’s be real, people. We need to start using the word trashlation to describe what too often passes for professional activity in the language services sector these days.

I’m looking at all of you DeepL fans among others. 🧐  And especially the LSPs who try to sell that garbage or other post-edited spew as translation. Such nonsense is seldom fit for purpose, and when I am not bent over the Porcelain God in “prayer”, I am always reminded of Mark Twain’s comment that the difference between something “close” to the right word and the right word itself is akin to the difference between a lightning bug and lightning. I would suggest that in some cases the consequential difference could be compared to being strapped to the electric chair for execution as opposed to watching the Natural magnificence of a lightning storm.
Recently, a German publisher sent me a very interesting file containing a table with the original German text in the first column, a post-edited DeepL result by a German who has lived abroad for some decades in the second column, in a third the post-edited result from an American living in Germany, and in the fourth column the results of some beta program called DeepL Write, yet another iteration of all of this AI trash the fanboys and -girls all declare will replace human writing efforts. Although I prefer to be left out of any discussions whatsoever involving the linguistic quality of MT output, the submitter seemed pleased by what he saw and insisted on having my opinion. So I gave it to him. Unfiltered. 😃  I suggested leaving me alone with that nonsense, and said I considered all of it to be hopeless trash. Actually, I might have been harsher than that, as I don't consider that sort of “writing“ acceptable or in any way fit for purpose, any purpose with which I'll be associated. It is physically painful for me to look at verbal garbage like that. I would rather stick my nose in a garbage can full of rotting meat and inhale deeply. The original German text was not bad, and it deserved real translation like someone I recommended could provide for that subject matter.

In a long consulting gig in the second half of 2022, which ended only in April of this year, I had a very close look at how badly the commercial models of translation service offered by most agencies are broken, badly, badly broken. Years of social engineering propaganda by unscrupulous promotors of machine translation and artificial "intelligence" have skewed expectations badly so that if the buyer is lucky the "best" service might be "good enough", though barely.

Project managers at agencies tell me of their soul-crushing duty to force ever lower rates on those external providers of translation services who typically do the real work sold as the agency's deceptive product. All the while, charts and graphs and other "quality metrics" tell the fairy story of superior delivery.

It's time for individuals providing independent services to take a different approach. Let the linguistic sausage providers (aka LSPs) eat their own product. Take the trash out of trashlation.

Of course there has been a lot of talk for years about the need to find more direct clients. Most conferences for translators have at least one presentation on this topic. But many of the recommended practices are dated or have become less effective as LSPs providing trashlation have increasingly gamed the search algorithms to make their pages appear to be those of independent individual providers, and then once there the buyer is treated to lies and distortions suggesting that they may be better off with the superior "full service" of the agency. Very few of the claims on such pages reflect actual practice, something I know very well as an insider providing technical assistance to companies for a very long time.

I have also read suggestions recently that search engine optimization (SEO) strategies may soon be a dead letter. Why? Companies developing search engines are rushing to implement large language model (LLM) functionality, such as that found in ChatGPT, any many expect that to blow the algorithm gaming strategy to Hell, negating much of the investments companies and individuals have made to increase the visibility of their web sites and the services offered there.

I don't know, really, what disintermediation strategies might be most effective these days, but at the very least individual traders should examine alternative representation strategies. I saw an interesting one recently on Fiverr, a platform I remembered only for the idiotic idea that every service should cost $5. Well, that has apparently changed.

Although their presentations were often far from a perfect, translators offering services on those platforms are able to structure the "gigs" in such a way that buyers can easily specify relevant conditions, such as project scope, urgency, etc. And service providers can avoid overbooking by applying various kinds of throttles based on order volume. Extra services, such as multiple revisions, project glossaries and many other extras I have marketing over the years are a snap to set up.

In fact, I was so impressed by what I saw that I am considering to create special services for some of the routine technical services I provide for translation workflow training videos, custom import filters, regex tools to translation and text QA, etc. Frequently, more of my time is spent gathering information on a client's requirements than I actually spend providing the implementable result. The flexible FAQ functions, intake questionnaire, portfolio and communication tools look like they can be a huge time-saver.

Compared to what I saw on Fiverr and a few similar, huge volume platforms, the structure of platforms like ProZ-dot-com and Translator's Café definitely look "last century". The times they are a-changin' and maybe we should be too in the platforms we use to promote services that our potential clients need.

Mar 2, 2023

memoQ Regex Assistant workshops re-run

The series of three workshops on the use of regex resources in memoQ, with a particular emphasis on the integrated Regex Assistant library, has been updated and will be offered again on March 9, 16 and 23 from 3:00 pm to 4:30 Lisbon time (4:00 pm to 5:30 pm CET, 10:00 am-11:30 am EST).

You can register here to attend any or all of the three sessions:

This is an evolving course, with the content continuously adapted in response to new questions, workflow challenges and process research as well as interoperability studies with other tools. Participants in the last series asked quite a number of interesting things during and after the talks, and their questions provided excellent material for new examples and approaches, and I hope for the same experience in this round.

The memoQ Regex Assistant is a unique library tool introduced in its current form in memoQ version 9.9. The little bit of public discussion there has been about this tool is quite misleading. Contrary to the "pitch" from memoQ employees and nerdy fans in the user base, this isn't really a tool for learning regular expressions. There are much better means for doing that. And I have strong personal objections to the idiotic statements I hear so often that "everyone should learn some regex". What utter nonsense.

What everyone should do is take advantage of the power regular expressions offer to simplify time-consuming tasks of translation, review, quality assurance and more to ensure accuracy and consistency in language resources and translations. The Regex Assistant helps with this by providing a platform where useful "expressions" can be collected and organized with readable names, labels and descriptions in any language. These libraries can be sorted, exchange with other users and applied for filtering, find and replace operations, QA checks, segmentation improvements, structured translation of dates, currency expressions, bibliographic information, legal citations and more or exported and converted to formats for easy use in other tools such as Trados Studio, Phrase/Memsource, Transtools+ and more. All without the need to learn any regular expression syntax!

HTML created from a memoQ Regex Assistant library export
An exported Regex Assistant library converted to a readable format by XSLT

My objective is not to teach regex syntax. It is to empower users to take more control of their work environment and save time and frustration for their teams and enjoy more life beyond the wordface. To help with that, I provide some usable examples in a follow-up mail after each sessions: resources that you can use in your own work and share freely with colleagues. 

And in this next round of workshops, available for purchase, there will be some additional high value resources to help achieve better outcomes for work in particular language pairs and particular specialties, such as financial translations. These complex resources were developed over a period of years, sometimes at great cost. In the last session I'll be getting "down and dirty and a little nerdy" to show you my way of maintaining complex resources like these auto-translation rules and others in a very effective, sustainable way that enables you to adapt quickly to changing requirements and style guides.

Sign up free to join the fun here.

Jan 12, 2023

memoQ&A: The Regex Assistant in Practice

Note: there will be another series of workshops for this subject matter in March. Details are HERE. Register once to attend any or all of the sessions.

Users of memoQ version 9.9 or later have a powerful library tool available with which they can organize solutions or solution elements that use regular expressions and apply these without the complications of learning regex syntax. In each session, we'll look at different ways in which these portable libraries can be used, with a particular emphasis on solving common problems faced by translators and reviewers. Materials will also be made available to participants for later study and practice.

There will be three sessions of 90 minutes each on three consecutive Thursdays: January 19, January 26 and February 2 at 11:00 a.m. Lisbon time (i.e. noon CET). The first session will introduce the Regex Assistant library and its basic functions for organizing and exchanging information and then move on to specific examples of using the library to deal with common problems encountered in translation and review work. Particular emphasis in the first session will be on filtering and Find/Replace operations. 

The two later sessions will continue to explore filtering and options for making changes to texts and tags, and we will also take a tour of possibilities for using regular expression resources (from the library!) in other parts of memoQ such as the Regex Tagger, QA checks or auto-translation rules. As time permits, examples or requests from participants can also be explored. 

Those interested in joining the free sessions can register here.

Update: a recording of the first session is available here:

To get a little taste of what's to come, have a look at this video created by a colleague last year: