Machine translation by Google

I came across this presentation on machine translation by Google. Food for thought, certainly.


Trados vs. SDLX vs. ?

For the longest time I assumed that I was the only translator out there who preferred SDLX over Trados. I assumed that I just needed to get to know it better, that I needed some training and more practise, and that it would be all wonderful and magical.

So I took a course. Nothing. No light bulb.

I assumed that maybe I had only touched the basics and that maybe I just didn’t “get” it. But then today I stumbled across this blog (granted, the post is a few months old) and it all became clear: It wasn’t me!

To be fair, I have only ever used SDLX and Trados. I tried Wordfast once, couldn’t figure it out, cast it aside. I haven’t given any other CAT tool the benefit of the doubt as I always assumed Trados was the market leader and that it is arguably the preferred tool of most agencies.

So why do I prefer SDLX?

1) The original text is on the left, the translation is on the right. I can easily scroll up and down to refer to other sections, and I can easily read every one of them if and when I want to. I find Trados very challenging to read once you close a segment – all these tags get in the way, and the original and the translation are essentially on the same line. Granted, the formatting in SDLX can be a bit messy, too, especially if the original was not perfectly formatted beforehand. And proof-reading a text is a whole different ball game. But still.

2) Multiterm vs. Termbase. Multiterm in a separate window and matching terms not even showing up when I have the relevant segment open? What’s all that about? I want suggestions right while I’m translating! Thank you SDLX! Even if creating a Termbase is not as user friendly as I would like.

3) I want my Translation Memory to show me suggestions in the same window – not in some separate popup window that I always have to have in focus. No time for that – I might have dictionaries or other browser windows open that I need to refer to.

So what exactly is all the fuss about? Or is there even a fuss about Trados? I get the part about project management, and I have happily used Synergy to manage some of my projects. I find it quite alright. But once you finalize a project, there is no going back to it – and that is definitely not in my interest as I may indeed need to re-open it (not saying that I ever closed a project and then, panic-stricken, realized that I had to make last minute changes. Just sayin’).

Conclusion? I will keep using SDLX unless someone tells me otherwise. It’s simple, effective, and it works!

Is that a fish in your ear, or are you just happy to hear me?

Google is working hard on re-creating Douglas Adams‘ famous idea of a babel fish, but will they succeed (source)? They are facing two main issues:

1. Voice recognition – I do not use it on my iPhone, and it drives me nuts in the car. So what grand technological secrets can they possibly have up their sleeve?

2. Translation – No machine translation will ever be as good as a human translator. Or will it? Will I have to go and look for another career? With so much content in so many languages now being posted to the internet, all you would have to do is feed it into a database and somehow map/match phrases or segments. Trouble is, not everyone is a professional writer. So how do you allow for typos, poor grammar and lack of punctuation? Never mind the complexities of human language.

To be continued…

Three percent

Books translated into English from other languages account for no more than 3 percent of the American book market (source). This, to me, can mean only one of two things:

1) There are a lot of original works being published in the US, enough to cover the domestic market. By sheer volume alone, any foreign translations become invisible and do not reach their potential readership.

2) American readers are suspicious of translations. Plus, they don’t want to read anything by non-American authors.

So, which is it? Are readers really aware when a book is a translation and when it isn’t? Thoughts?

Ken Lee

This made me laugh so hard that I absolutely must share it with the world:

A fine example of NOT mastering a language! 😉

Seven thousand languages to reach everyone

I love numbers. So here are some:

It would take 83 languages to reach 80 percent of all the people in the world, and over 7,000 languages to reach everyone. — Evolution and Revolution in Translation Management (source)

Current world population is ~6,830,586,985 (source), or 6.8 billion. Worldwide internet users are ~1,733,993,741 (source), or 1.7 billion. This means that ~25.4% of the world population use or have access to the internet.

So do we need > 7,000 languages to reach these 25.4%? Here is the Top 10 list (source):

  • English
  • Chinese
  • Spanish
  • Japanese
  • French
  • Portuguese
  • German
  • Arabic
  • Russian
  • Korean

No big surprise? Sure, but Arabic had the highest internet usage growth rate of them all – 1,900% growth from 2000 to 2009 (yes, that’s one thousand and nine hundred percent; more than 200% per year), followed by Russian (1,400%) and Chinese (1,000%).

A translator is a person who writes

Some time ago, I came across the quote “A writer is a person who writes,” and it seemed a bit odd to me at the time. Of course a writer writes. Right? Well, it was really hinting at how much hard work writing is, and that talent is just the tip of the iceberg.

I think this is also true of translation (and many other crafts that require a lot of writing). It is one thing to speak a second language fluently. But it’s quite another to truly transport one language’s meaning and flavor into another.

Since practise makes perfect I decided 2 minutes ago to start this blog. So there you have it. Enjoy!

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