Thursday, August 28, 2008

Yet again: Trados fuzzy match woes (Expanded)

Continuing from my post of August 25, some further evidence of just how badly designed the fuzzy matching algorithms are in Trados:

So, according to Trados, "INSTALLING DISPLAY" is a 67% match for "Installing Display", while "Ownership of the Services and Marks." is a 65% match for "Description of the Service and Definitions."

A smarter matching algorithm would give more importance to meaningful words ("Description", "Service", "Definitions") than to grammatical ones ("of" "the" "and"), and would treat a difference between upper and lower case as much less significant than the chance similarity of two sentence structures.

By the way if "Installing Display" is changed to "Installing the Display", it does not come up as a fuzzy match at all (unless the fuzzy threshold is set extremely low), since it becomes a mere 40% match:

The worse thing is that all these problems have been known for years, but Trados (and now SDL/Trados) programmers have done nothing to improve the situation.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Trados: which bugs have been fixed?

I've just received a rather pushy call from an SDL/Trados representative. He wanted to know if I was considering upgrading from Trados 2007 to the newest version. When told that I was actually consider whether to change to a competitor's product, he asked why.

The reason I gave him was defects in the program, and old bugs never fixed.

I wonder however, if any of the more persistent bugs have been fixed with the latest releases - as far as I know, they haven't, but I would be happy to learn otherwise.

In particular, I'm thinking of such longstanding defects as the poor quality of low-fuzzy matches (see the previous post), the fact that formats are often mangled in MS Word documents, the irregular behavior of Workbench when translating MS Word tables with multiple columns (when Set Close/Next Open Get skips entire rows), the absence of shortcuts to open directly the previous segment, or the feebleness of the search functions within Tag Editor.

As far as I know, all development efforts were focused on supporting Vista/Office 2007, on corporate features, and on fixing some really disastrous new bugs (if any were introduced or discovered recently).

No real improvements to longstanding bugs, defects and annoyances as mentioned above. Does anybody know if this is still true, or which defects (if any) have been fixed after, say, version 7.1 and which improvements have been implemented?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Yet again: Trados fuzzy match woes

I sometime wonder whether SDL Trados programmers even understand the concept of fuzzy matching, or, if they do, whether they care or have pride in their job - only incompetent programmers would create or use a fuzzy matching algorithm that leads to ludicrous results such as these:

That's right: according to Trados, the segment "Ownership of the Services and Marks." is a 65% match for "Description of the Service and Definitions."

After all, "of the" and "and" are exactly the same in both sentences.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Translator v. linguist

One thing that riles me is the habit many translation companies have of calling us "linguists". According to my dictionaries, a linguist is either a specialist in linguistics or a person who knows more than one language.

Neither meaning directly applies: not all translators are specialists in linguistics, and most specialists in linguistics are certainly not translators. And though all translators do know more than one language, not all people who know more than one language have what it takes to be translators.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Tautology, according to the Visual Thesaurus, is (among other things), "verboseness resulting from excessive repetitions."

For too many technical writers - especially, in my experience, those drafting ERP software manuals, a verbose, leaden and tautological style seems to be the only one they are able to use. Hence such pearls as

"The Server Date information is displayed for informational purposes."

In our translations we can, in such instances, improve on the original. For example, "La Data server è visualizzata a scopo informativo" provides the same information in Italian and is more concise.

Besides omitting redundant words, the translation can be shortened by rearranging the sentence structure:

"You can create a link in the Documents frame to link to a file or a Web page,"

May be translated more concisely and without loss of information as "Nel frame Documenti si può creare un collegamento a un file o a una pagina Web" .