Saturday, December 15, 2012

Xbench 3.0 – Now in public beta with some major new features

ApSIC have announced today the public beta of Xbench, their terminology management and translation QA program.

I’ll write a review of the new version of Xbench after working with it for a while, but there are some major improvements that should please many translators:
  • Full unicode support
  • Separate 32-bit and 64-bit versions
  • Support of MemoQ 6 XLIFF files
  • Support of Wordfast 3.1 Pro
  • Integration of the spell checkers in the program itself (you no longer need to download and install the dictionaries separately). 
The QA functions are also improved, with two new tests that will certainly interest those of us who often translate software: checks for CamelCase and for ALL UPPERCASE string mismatches.

Unlike most other beta programs, Xbench 3.0 comes with good documentation: an excellent help system and a new 70-page manual.

You can read about all the new and improved features in ApSIC's blog, but if you want an introduction to Xbench, see my old presentation: it is no longer up to date, now that 3.0 is out, but should give you a good idea about what this program can do to help your translations.

A big change is that version 3.0, when it is finally released, will be available through a paid subscription; those who pre-order before the end of the beta period will enjoy a discount  (up to 80% if you subscribe by December 27, less so if you wait). Version 2.9, however, will remain free and will still be available for download. I believe that charging for the program will be good for the translation community: the program's priorities will no longer depend on ApSIC's internal use only, so they should match even more closely the needs of other translators.

To download the public beta you can go to (if you are in a hurry, the link for the download is here). If you want to pre-order a subscription to take advantage of the discounts (and I strongly recommend you do so), the link is here.


There was some confusion about the pricing scheme for Xbench licenses - ApSIC have now clarified things in a new post on their own blog.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

750 Words - A simple but surprisingly good idea to get you in the habit of writing

There is plenty of advice given to writers - but most of it boils down to "get in the habit of writing - and the best way to do so, is by writing every single day". For some, this may be easy, for others not so much: there are too many distractions, and sometimes (make it often) we may not feel like writing. In fact, I believe most of us are always ready with some excuse not to.

Enter, a simple site that encourages you to write every day: not for publication (what you write remains private - this is not a blogging platform), but to get you in the habit of writing something (at least 750 words, in fact) every single day. The site encourages you in a number of ways, most of which may appear cheesy: the badge of an egg when you start out becomes a turkey after three days in which you have achieved your 750 words goal, and on to a penguin (five days), a flamingo (ten), and so on. There are badges for continuous days of writing without distraction (doing the 750 words without an interruption), badges for continuous days of writing fast (750 words within 20 minutes) - badges for night owls (sorry, for "night bats" according to the site), and for morning roosters for those who complete their writing either late at night or very early in the morning.

If all this seems silly, it most certainly is... but it also works, at least for some of us: it provides that little extra encouragement to write every day, and make a habit of it.

Since you know your writing is private, you don't get stressed out by the pressure of producing well-finished prose, and since each day's writing is no longer editable after the end of the day, you are encouraged to go on and write something new, instead of fiddling with your previous output. (Even if your writing is no longer editable on the site, however, it does not disappear, and you can always download it for later use elsewhere).

You can use the site for different purposes: to write morning pages and to freewrite are two obvious examples, but I find it also works to help you write the first draft of something you may then post in your blog or publish elsewhere (this post, in fact, was started as a draft in

The site is free (although if you find it useful donations are welcome), and very simple to use. Try it: you may like it and find it helps you develop the habit of writing every day.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Trados Studio Manual - now with its own blog and Facebook page

I mentioned before that there is now a Trados Studio manual, available for purchase from SDL's Open Exchange. I've not as yet reviewed the manual thoroughly, but I've used it for reference several times already, and I highly recommend it: it's useful, well organized and well written - a far cry from the mess that is SDL's own documentation. Now that  Mats Linder has written two editions of the Studio manual (one for Studio 2009, one for 2011), and that he has updated them to also cover the latest SDL's upgrades (including Stdio 2001 SP2) I urge him to write a good manual for MultiTerm - the need there is even more pressing, considering how badly the MultiTerm help system is written.

Mats has recently also launched a blog dedicated to the manual and a Facebook page where he links to useful sites and blog entries by other knowledgeable people, with the purpose to give practical tips on translation matters.

I recommend both the blog and the Facebook page - they are certain to be useful to SDL Trados studio users.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Feeling lazy? A sure-fire way not to get work

Novice translators often get advice on how to get work and how to successfully conduct their freelance business. Several leading translators, in fact, have published books aimed at less experienced colleagues (among these books, I especially recommend those by Corinne McKay, the Jenner twins and Chris Durban).
            However, what if you feel lazy, don’t really want to receive work, but, for some reason, you have to make a show of looking for it? Maybe your significant other has been nagging you to send your résumé to your prospects, and when you temporized by saying “I need to research them first”, she answered by providing you with a list of 7,600 translation agencies and a paid subscription to Payment Practices.
            What then: Are you doomed to the drudgery of toil? Not to worry: Here you’ll find a 10-point proven strategy to make sure no translation company in their right mind will ever send projects your way (and it works for direct customers, too):
1.         Be full of it: Write a bombastic cover message for your résumé. Feel free to add implausible claims (“...I am a Vogon native speaker, but can also easily translate into Klingon, as I spent two weeks on vacation there once, and I specialize in all subjects...”). A patronizing and condescending tone is also very helpful in turning prospects away (“ you should know, language translation is a profession only a selected few can undertake...”).
2.         Deliberately misspell your cover message, and add some egregious error of grammar, syntax, punctuation and usage (very effective, for instance, is to claim “I have challenges to provide high-quality service and meeting deadlines,” as in an application I received some time ago).
2.1       Bonus material: If you don’t know how to write a thoroughly off-putting cover message, take heart: Here is a real masterpiece I received (with a few details changed to protect the sender) that you can use as a template:
“Good morning!
I hereby request the following question, I saw this email and you were recruiting freelance translators, I wonder if that offer is still open?
               I am a young Portuguese who have a graduation in Portuguese and Dutch by the faculty of letters of Coimbra. And for three years I teached English in Portugal. Over these three years, at home, I did a translation of various texts, literary and non-literary, for example: user guides , how to apply a product; how to put a machine to work in a factory; the warning letters and simple letters; poems; short stories; emails with requests; cookery recipes; medical prescription; college and University diplomas and etc.
               I´m available and able to make in these three languages translation. I can also translate from Italian to Portuguese and Spanish to Portuguese, because I had a year of Italian and Spanish in University.
               I am currently living in Burma.
               My work as a translator will be done at home in the computer and then I send my translations through my email for your company.
               If you are interested in my services as a freelance translator, could you tell me what email can I send my CV?
               Please contact me at (address) for any further information.
Best regards,
Jane A. Translator”
3.         Don’t mention your language pair in the title of your message. Let your prospects guess.
4.         Don’t mention your language pair in the header of your résumé, either. If you really feel compelled to add it, the bottom of page three (possibly under “other information and personal interests”) should do nicely. If they finally get there, your prospects will be happy to discover you don’t translate in a language they are interested in.
5.         If you have worked as a translator in the past, do include every detail of all projects you ever did (in fact, list all language assignments you did since middle school, for good measure). Remember: Your goal is to bore your prospect, and a seven-page single-spaced résumé should easily do the trick.
6.         Wide margins and a legible layout are for chumps. Use the narrowest margins your word processor lets you get away with, don’t indent between paragraphs, and don’t use any font other than Arial Narrow (8 points maximum). If your prospects cannot read your résumé, they will not be tempted to hire you.
7.         If (as you should) you are writing your résumé in a language which is not your own, make sure not to have it revised by a native speaker: She could accidentally correct all the errors you have worked so hard to add.
8.         In the unfortunate case that a prospect, despite your efforts, answers your message and asks you to take a short translation test, be original: don’t just say you don’t do free tests (they might respect you for that), and certainly don’t accept to translate the test and do your best on it. Instead, accept the test, use Gurgle Translate, don’t spell-check, and send the test late (if they gave you a deadline), or not at all (if they didn’t).
9.         If you decide to take a test, ignore any instructions that come with it: following them would waste your time, and you might unfortunately find in them some suggestion of how your prospect would like you to proceed. You want to show you are an independent spirit, not someone who meekly accepts to do what he is tasked to do.
10.       And finally: Now that we live in a Web 2.0 world, with plenty of social media available to show what you really think to all and sundry, let your personality shine under your real name. Badmouth translation companies and belittle other translators on AmateurZ and BabbleBook. Suggest plenty of erroneous terms in online translation fora (in fact, suggest them in at least three different languages you don’t know). Display a righteous attitude (better yet, a paranoid one), and let everybody know that all translation companies (and all direct customers, for that matter), are out to get you to work for free, that all other translators are infinitely worse than you, that of course translators can and should translate from their second language into their third one, and that the sole reason for university translation departments the whole word over is to churn out plenty of lemmings ready to jump off a cliff and take all the work away from you.
P.S. This will be the subject for another article, but learn to be very rude on the phone, especially if some project manager calls you.
NOTE: This article, together with many others from several prominent translators, was written for Mox II: What they don't tell you about translation, the new collection of Mox cartoons by Alejandro Moreno-Ramos. Mox II was published today: go and order it - it is the perfect gift for any translator.  

Mox II

Many translators already know (and identify with) Alejandro Moreno-Ramos's downtrodden translator, Mox.

Last year Alejandro published Mox Illustrated Guide to Freelance Translation, with articles from several prominent translators and over two hundred cartoons, many never published on his blog before.

Now he has done it again with his second book: Mox II - What they don't tell you about translation, which  has been published today - a perfect gift for other translators (or for yourself).

mox ii present translator

As in the first book, the adventures of Mox, Calvo, and the other characters in the strip are accompanied by a series of articles from prominent translators - and this year I had the honor of being invited to contribute one of of the articles. With Alejandro's permission I'm republishing my article (it will be in my next post) - but I urge you to order the book so you enjoy the other articles and the new cartoons.