Thursday, July 30, 2009

Congratulations to all translation blogs among the LexioPhiles 100!

Congratulations to all the translation blogs that were selected among the LexioPhiles 100 best language blogs of 2009:

38. Über Setzer Logbuch
39. There's Something About Translation...
49. wéb-tränslatiôns
52. Wasaty tlumacz O tlumaczeniach przy fajce i kawie
56. Beyond Words
60. algo más que traducir
61. Musings from an overworked translator
74. El taller del traductor
76. TecnoTraduBlog
88. Fidus Interpres
89. Translate This!
93. Blogos
98. Medical Translation Blog
99. Naked Translations

This year About Translation was not among the 100 best language blogs (I'll try to do better next year!).

Again, congratulations to all the translation blogs in the list (and of course to all the other fine language blogs)!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

TM-Europe 2009

TM-Europe 2009 will be held on October 1st and 2nd in Warsaw. This year, the conference theme is Quality and Terminology Management, and Business Terms and Conditions for Translation and Localization Services.
In the 2008 TM-Global Translation and Localization Market Survey customers and providers alike reported that consistent high quality was the number one factor they take into account when managing processes or selecting a vendor, yet they had problems pin-pointing how quality is defined, measured and manifested.
The conference's schedule covers an interesting range of topics, among which:
  • a workshop on translation and localization technology (Daniel Goldschmidt and Jost Zetsche)
  • a discussion between customers and translation companies on how they do business together
  • a panel and several presentations on terminology management
  • a panel and presentation on quality management
  • a presentation on different approaches to selling translation in the US and Europe (Dave Smith of Lingua-Lynx)
  • a post-conference workshop on Selling Translation
TM-Europe is the annual conference of the Polish Association of Translation Agencies (PSBT) and is organised by PSBT and TM-Global.
For more information on the conference visit

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An interesting new blog on localization: Localization Best Practices

David Ashton works for SDL, but his new blog, Localization Best Practices, is an independent effort.

David's blog looks and feels professional, and has already published several interesting posts. In particular, I found "How healthy is your localization partner’s supply-chain?" should be required reading for most buyers of translation services, and "The case for and against direct update of TM’s by translators" should be pondered by the clients and MLVs that are all too ready to unleash a scrum of translators all on the same project and on the same memory:
Translators are only human and errors are introduced by human translators every day… that's why we have Quality Assurance processes in the first place! Auto-propagating translations pre-QA carries a tremendous risk
Many translation blogs start with tentative steps, unsure of where they are going, only to find their feet with practice and time. David, on the other hand, hit the ground running.
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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Independent information on translation tools


Is the Trados filter capacity outstanding compared to other CAT Systems? Maybe there is a forum somewhere that compares Cat performances and answers these questions impartially.
I am an newbie here and these systems can be time and money drains.


There is indeed a site where you can find comparison of various translation tools: Jost Zetzsche's excellent Translators Training. For a very moderate yearly subscription you can get independent reviews, information and comparisons of various different translation tools, and much else.

I wrote that to answer a comment to another post.

I'm sure that many translators already know Jost's excellent Translators Training site (not to mention his Tool Kit: a great series of computer tips for translators), but if you didn't know them, and you are interested in how best to use the computer to help you with translation, Jost's sites are an invaluable resource.
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Monday, July 20, 2009

Reverse auctions

Just before I wrote the post on "Name your price", I had read the post on the Tomedes blog with which they announced their new service. I also left a comment there: "Why not go the whole hog and call your new service “screw the translator”, instead?"

Not diplomatic, I know, nor a well argumented analysis of what's wrong with their scheme. Tomedes published my comment, but Ofer answered for them by saying how, on the contrary, they respect and cherish translators and care about translation quality:
I'm sorry that you see it that way. “Tomedes name your price” keeps having the same benefits Tomedes brings to translators today. We keep getting excellent feedback from professional translators. You are more than welcome to register and see for yourself.
Tomedes does not have a fixed rate. Any translator can decide which translations he would like to take and to set his rate based on his availability and based on random sentences from the source document we let him/her see.
We never compromise on quality and carry out an advanced quality assurance system ensuring we work only with professional translators.

I'm sure Ofer is sincere in thinking so, but actions speak louder than words: the new scheme is a typical example of a reverse auction.

According to Wikipedia, a reverse action is
A tool used in industrial business-to-business procurement. It is a type of auction in which the role of the buyer and seller are reversed, with the primary objective to drive purchase prices downward.
There have been companies (outside the translation field) that have expanded their business by bidding in reverse auctions (See Inc., May 2007; Reverse Auctions – A supplier's survival guide: an article quoted in the Wikipedia's entry).

But to use a reverse auction successfully, businesses (and professionals) need to be highly knowledgeable about their market, the details of the job, and, above all, their own costs. Otherwise they risk all too easily to lose money on the projects they win.

In other words, they need to have finely honed business skills, something that most translators conspicuously lack.

The result of a reverse translation auction as described is easy to foresee: The customer receives a quote (which, remember, is calculated considering the lowest bid estimated for the project), and names a lower price. Some translator accepts the lower rate, and the translation is delivered to the customer. Next time, the customer again asks for a quote, and this time, besides the quoted price, he also knows that last time he succeeded in buying the translation for a lower price. So he again "Names his price", even lower than last time. This is a slippery slope where soon prices can be driven down to mere pittances, to the detriment of all.

Friday, July 17, 2009

"Name your price" or "Find a sucker"?

A translation company with an overenthusiastic translation blog (I won't name them here, I don't believe they need more traffic), has just announced the clearest example of a reverse bid for translation I have seen. They call their new service "Name your price", but might as well call it "Find a sucker". It works like this:

  • The customers send details of their translation project to receive a quote.
  • The quote is calculated considering the lowest bid estimated for the project.

If the customers still thinks that's too much (and who won't, at that point?) they can "Name their price".

In that case,

  • The customers place their order, and automatic bidding starts. Once someone desperate enough to work at the price set by the customer (or lower, I imagine, to "win" the bid) is found, the translation supposedly gets done.
  • If they cannot find a translator willing to work for peanuts (but I bet they will: "There's a sucker born every minute", as P.T. Barnum used to say), then they say the customer gets a refund.
I believe that translators should set their own rates, and I'm not one to rail against those who set their rates lower than mine. But a scheme like this drives the customer to set a price lower than the minimum estimated quote, then pushes competing translators to go ever lower in the illusory hope of getting some work.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Voting has begun for the best language blogs of 2009

LexioPhiles has just posted a page where you can vote for the best language blogs of 2009. You can vote for blogs in several different categories: Language Learning, Language Teaching, Language Technology and Language Professionals.

About Translation was chosen as one of the top blogs of 2008, and has been nominated again for 2009, in the Language Professionals category.

You can vote for About Translation, by clicking this button:

(A big "thank you!" for anybody that votes for this blog!)

I invite everybody to check out the other fine language blogs listed, and vote for your favorites.

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SDL Studio 2009: Wait for SP1

I've been following an interesting thread on ProZ about bugs and defects in SDL Studio 2009. After three pages of detailed defects signaled by various translators, SDL has finally shown up, with a long and detailed post.

In its post SDL technical supports comments on the various defects. In a few instances by saying they are difficult to reproduce and under investigation, for others suggesting a workaround or an existing hot fix, and for most indicating that they are going to be corrected with Service Pack 1.

While I applaud SDL's responsiveness in this instance (especially in a public forum), the number and seriousness of the defects indicated makes me think that beta testing had not been completed properly: these are the kind of issues a well-designed beta test should have caught and correct before the release of the product.

My advice to everyone who can wait is not to install Studio 2009 until Service Pack 1 has been released and tested by users, if you can wait. This is what we are going to do: we don't have time to participate in an involuntary extended beta test of a buggy product.


I've been taken to task by Laszlo and Richard in the comments to this post for criticizing SDL the very moment they are doing the right thing.

Just to be clear: I do acknowledge that by responding to these bugs reports publicly they are doing as they should. I applaud the fact that they are acknowledging these as bugs, and that, by slating most of them for correction with SP1, they are promising to correct them.

I commend SDL for this and for their greater responsiveness to their customers' complaints.

And I acknowledge I'm probably biased against Trados (if so, it is because of many years of experience and frustration with their program). But I still think that these bugs, and especially the apparent seriousness of some of them, may indicate that the beta testing was not thorough enough.

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Real-time terminology sharing with Google Docs

One of my partners and I are working on the same project. In a way, it is a throwback to an earlier era: a pdf project that we could not convert using OCR.

We took the opportunity to test the Google Docs spreadsheet as a remote real-time shared terminology tool. We wanted to know if it would allow us to open our glossary at the same time to check terminology and add, change, and delete entries.

The Google Docs spreadsheet does a remarkable job of allowing simultaneous use by two translators.

At first, we set up the spreadsheet so the approved entries were in one page, my partner's additions in a second one, and mine in a third one. We feared that typing a new entry on the same page simultaneously could unintentionally overwrite data. After a while, however, to test the limits of the application, we tried to write at the same time on the same line of the same page.

We could not do that: Google Docs prevented us from accidentally messing up each other's entries.

This was by no means a stress test: perhaps many simultaneous users on the same page could damage a document and lose data. But for two people working far away at the same time on the same project it is a useful tool: data sharing in real time without the need to set up any server or other network application or hardware.

Best of all, it is free, and the data is frequently saved by Google.

In a later post I'll give a more detailed description of how to set up such a shared Google Docs spreadsheet.
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