Tuesday, November 26, 2013

SDL Trados Studio 2014 – The Manual

Mats Linder has just published the new updated version of his Trados Studio Manual.

The new version of the manual (expanded from 345 pages for Studio 2009, to 385 pages for Studio 2011, and now to 430 pages) has been updated to reflect the changes from Studio 2011 to Studio 2014. As previously, it comes in two version: a clean one and one in which the changes from the previous version are highlighted; this is very useful for those who want to skim through the manual to see what has been changed and added to the program.

The manual is sold for USD 49 (Euro 38) to new users, and at a discounted price of USD 24 (Euro 19) to those that are upgrading after buying a previous version of the manual. In any case, a reasonable price for a very useful resource.

I highly recommend the manual both to new users of Studio and to those who already are familiar with it: the manual is thorough, clearly written (unlike SDL’s own help files), and independent.

The manual is provided in pdf format, but it is also ready for printing (for those who don’t mind killing a few extra trees): it comes with a substantial table of contents and a very complete index.

A suggestion I have for Mats is to consider publish future editions as a true e-book: this would be useful to the increasing number of people who use e-book readers and tablets, as it would then permit such features as increasing the font size as necessary.

You can purchase the full-price version of the manual from www.TradosStudioManual.com. If you already purchased a previous version, you upgrade it from the Upgrade to 2014 page.

Special offer for Xbench

Until November 29, ApSIC is offering Xbench, its super-useful terminology and QA tool, at a 50% discount.

While the 2.9 version of Xbench is still free, I highly recommend upgrading to the professional version (3.0): it supports more file types and offers useful additional QA tests.

Above all, by paying for the pro version you help ApSIC actively support and further develop one of the very best utilities for translators.

You can purchase Xbench at www.xbench.net. For more information on how Xbench can be useful for translators, see my presentation (now slightly out of date).

Friday, November 22, 2013

How to search on multiple PDF files at the same time

There is a customer of ours that always sends multiple PDF files for reference, together with .itd files to translate.

Since the PDFs illustrate the mechanical maintenance procedures described in the translation files, being able to search the PDFs to find the correct illustrations is essential. Searching each of them separately would be time consuming (and tedious). Fortunately, there is an easy way to search numerous PDFs all at the same time. Using Foxit Reader (an excellent free tool, much superior to the bloated Adobe Reader), just hit Ctrl+Shift+F to open the search pane,

Foxit Reader Search Pane

select the All PDF documents in radio button, browse for the folder where you have saved your reference PDFs, select the appropriate checkboxes, and hit Enter.

Foxit Reader will display all the files (and location in the files) where your search terms are to be found.
Foxit Reader Search Results

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Common cover message errors

Every week I receive a number of messages from freelance translators, offering their services.

Most of those who send these messages usually fail to distinguish themselves, and fail to make any positive impression.

Take this message I just received:
I am [Name redacted] from Italy. I am an Italian native experienced translator and proofreader. I translate from English to Italian and via versa[2]. I have worked for several translation agencies, translating various fields[3], it would be a real pleasure for me working with you as freelance translator, so I am sending this cover letter and the enclosed resume to introduce myself and my skills and experiences[4] to you. 
My rates are flexible and negotiable[5] depend[6] on the subject of the text and the urgency of the task. I look forward to working with you in the near future.
Now: what's wrong with this?
  1. Generic salutation. It tells me this is part of a mass e-mail campaign (i.e., spam) and that is not addressed to me or to my company. A message with such a salutation most likely goes straight to the spam folder: If the writer cannot be bothered to address it to a specific person or at least to a specific company, why should the recipient be interested in reading it?
  2. English to Italian and vice versa. The writer says she is an Italian native, and claims to be able to translate not only from English into Italian, but also from Italian into English. Translating into a language you are not a native speaker of is usually the mark of the amateur. There are exceptions (such as people who are really native speakers of two languages, and even a few non-native speaker who do have the exceptional ability to translate into their second language at a level indistinguishable from a native speaker), but these are very few and far between.
  3. Various fields. The purpose of the cover letter is to entice me into opening the résumé. I might do so if the message indicates a specific field I'm interested in. "Various fields" tells me absolutely nothing.
  4. Skills and experiences. Again, a missed opportunity for distinguishing herself from all other wannabe translators. Which skills experiences? The message doesn't say, so once again I have no reason to open the résumé.
  5. Flexible and negotiable rates. This translator writes "flexible and negotiable". I read "I'm a doormat, please step on me". There is probably no better way to indicate that one is not a real professional than saying from the beginning that your rates are negotiable. This translator is in effect negotiating against herself. (Hint: translation companies are usually more than ready to ask new translators to lower their rates. Don't help them do so by indicating from the beginning you are an easy mark!)
  6. Grammar errors. The writer claims to be able to translate into English, but then cannot even write correct English in her cover message. This not only undermines her credibility as an Italian into English translator: it also casts a shadow on her English into Italian skills. 
Remember: the main purpose of your message is to entice your prospect to open the attached resume, or to ask for more information. To do that you should distinguish yourself from other translators. Make your message stand out from the rest: indicate some specific skill or experience, address you message to a specific person, write in a way that clearly show you know your business.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Concordance blues

CAT tools' concordance features are usually more helpful to translators than fuzzy matching, especially in the long run - I consider my translation memories as a growing treasure that I can search to see how I translated something in the past, and for that it doesn't matter if the segments are not similar enough to suggest a fuzzy match.

But sometimes the way concordance works in some CAT tools leads me to wonder whether CAT tool programmers realize that when we search for a match in our translation memories we are not looking for a completely different word.

For example, if I'm trying to find whether or not I had previously translated "rocking strip" (a piece of a thrust bearing), getting a reminder of how I previously translated "backing strip" (the strip of paper that covers an adhesive) is worse than useless:

it just wastes time, without helping me one bit.

The example above is from Studio 2011, but I've seen similar mismatches in other translation tools. (Before anybody comments: no, I've not enabled the "character-based concordance search" for this - or any other - memory.)

I'd really like to know why CAT tools' programmers think providing this kind of results could be helpful: what's the rationale behind them? Has any translator asked for this type of matching? Would it be helpful for certain languages? (If so, shouldn't it be enabled only for those languages, and not for all of them?)

Friday, October 18, 2013

Java problems in Multiterm

Once again, Multiterm is suffering from Java problems: it seems that the latest updated to Java (7.45) creates various problems with Multiterm (for more details, see article 4956 in SDL's knowledge base)

While SDL has been very timely in signalling the problem, and in publishing a workaround in the KB article, saying that this is not an SDL-created problem (as SDL representatives are saying for example on ProZ) is, I think, disingenuous.

Yes: the actual problem is caused by Java, so it is ultimately Oracle's fault, BUT

  • It is SDL who decided to use Java - so it is SDL who is responsible for using Oracle's unreliable and/or defective technology.
  • It is SDL who keeps on using Java - despite previous instances of problems caused by Java: as far as I can see SDL fine-tunes their tools to a specific version of Java (7.25 in this case), and then they cross their fingers and hope that the next version released by Oracle won't break Multiterm.
  • When (not if) such problems happen, SDL have little recourse but to recommend to uninstall the latest Java version, and reinstall the previous one. This may bring back the Multiterm functionality, but, presumably, at a cost: if the new version of Java has been released to solve newly-discovered vulnerabilities in the previous version, SDL is asking its customers to stay open to said vulnerabilities.

This, to put it mildly, is not a "best practice" (though SDL claims it as such in their KB article: "Step 3: Follow-up for Best-Practice to avoid the question to install Java 7 Update 45 again.").

My questions:

  • Why does SDL keep on relying on Oracle's defective technology?
  • What is SDL doing to permanently solve these recurring issues?

Friday, September 27, 2013

A very special offer on QA Distiller

QA Distiller is a useful translation QA tool that lets you run a series of tests on various types of bilingual files, including Xliff (SDL Trados Studio and MemoQ), ttx (Tag Editor), and TMX.

QA Distiller offers a wider range of QA checks than Xbench or SDL's internal QA tools. When compared with Xbench, it does not have the very useful terminology functions that Xbench offers, but (besides the higher number of tests performed) it does have a useful advantage over Xbench: you can edit the incorrect segments directly from within QA Distiller.

On September 30 only, on the occasion of the International Translation Day, QA distiller is offered at a very special price: 100 Euro instead of the regular 1000 Euro (so a 90% discount).

The link for the special offer is www.qa-distiller.com/anniversary. Other useful links: a flash demo of the tool, the on-line help file (use Firefox to display the online help: I had problems displaying it in Chrome) and a series of FAQs.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

A quick Xbench trick

When using Xbench as a terminology reference tool, in many translation applications you can select the test you want to look up by highlighting it, then using the Ctrl+Alt+Ins hotkey to invoke Xbench and send that text to Xbench's source search box (or Ctrl+Alt+Backspace to send that text to the target search box).

In certain applications, however  (for example in SDLX), these hotkeys do not work: if you highlight some text and press Ctrl+Alt+Ins Xbench appears, but in the search box you get the last content of your clipboard, instead of the text you had highlighted.

The workaround is to highlight the text to search, use Ctrl+C to copy it to the clipboard, and only then use the Ctrl+Alt+Ins (or Ctrl+Alt+Backspace) hotkeys.

Remember that most hotkeys can be changed in Xbench: if you do not want to use Ctrl+Alt+Ins and Ctrl+Alt+Backspace - for example because they are already used by another application - you can change them in the Settings window (Tools -> Settings -> Layout & Hotkeys).

For more information about Xbench and how it can help your translations, a good place to start is my presentation, which you can download from the Xbench tab above.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Say no to the ribbon: an open letter to SDL's Paul Filkin

Dear Paul,

I’m writing to you as you are the best advocate for translators at SDL. 

We have heard that Studio 2014 will adopt a ribbon interface. If there is still time (and there is, since the program is still in beta) I urge you, and all at SDL, to reconsider this decision.

The ribbon interface in MS Office has been a disaster, in the opinion of most power users – we’ve had to spend unnecessary long hours to find out where all familiar commands had been hidden away.

In MS Office, at least, third party developers have been able to return something similar to the familiar menu as an add-on to the program. Since, however, SDL has a much smaller market, I doubt that there will be any similar solution available to us.

I therefore urge you, and SDL, to concentrate your efforts not on an unnecessary, unwanted and harmful novelty like a ribbon interface, but rather on spending development resources on actual improvements to the program – you could, for example, finally start to do something to improve the serious defects still present in your fuzzy-matching algorithms, or perhaps work on the broken auto-propagation feature.

Best regards,

Riccardo Schiaffino

Monday, July 01, 2013

Switching spell-checker in SDL Trados Studio

I normally prefer to use the Hunspell spell checker in Trados Studio: I can set the various parameters from within Studio (instead of having to change them in MS Word), and I don't mind that Hunspell normally flags more false positives - I actually prefer that to MS's sometimes more permissive approach.

There are, however, times when you need to change the spell checker used - for instance, if the language version used in a project is not supported by your default spell checker.

This happened to me in a recent project: the customer had set it as English to Italian (Switzerland), instead of the normal Italian (Italy). Hunspell does not have a spell checker for Italian (Switzerland), so Studio was not performing any spell checking at all - if you selected the Tools menu you would see the spell-checker option grayed out.

In such instances the workaround is simple: just go to Tools > Options > Editor > Spelling, and select the other spell checker.

In my case, I switched from Hunspell to MS Word's, and I was able to check my project. In other instances you may try the reverse (selecting Hunspell when you normally use the MS Word spell-checker). This is useful, for instance, if your installation of MS Office does not come with the spell-checker for a certain language.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The dread "Hi All"

Some large translation companies seem to make an habit of sending their messages not to you, but to all and sundry:
Hi All,
Could you please confirm ASAP if you would be available for this request. 
I normally no longer answer such "Hi All" messages, but since this guy was so insistent (this was the third or fourth message I received from him in the last couple of days, all about the same project), I made an exception:
Hi [Name of PM],
I am sorry, but we are not available.
The reason I have not answered sooner is that I no longer answer messages that are broadcast (“Hi All”), since they normally just signify a waste of time (usually, when you confirm you availability you then get a message back along the lines of “sorry, but the project has already been assigned to someone else”).
If, in the future, you need me to confirm my availability or the availability of my team, please note that I only will answer to messages that begin “Hi Riccardo”, “Dear Aliquantum team”, or the like.
Best regards,
Translation companies, please note: messages addressed to a group are fine, if the entire group is working on the same project.

In exceptional circumstances you can use them, if you really need an answer in a hurry, and you don't know who is currently available - in those instances I would suggest prefacing your message with an apology: "Hi All, Please excuse the mass e-mail, but ...".

But if you make an habit of always sending your messages to all, please consider the likelihood that they will be answered by none.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Simple regular expressions for SDL Trados Studio filters

Regular expressions (regex for short) are very useful for searching, replacing and filtering information, and are increasingly available in many applications, including SDL Trados Studio (SDL's Paul Filkin has several articles in his Multifarious blog about sophisticated uses of regular expressions searches in Studio, for example Regular Expressions - Part 1 and Regex… and “economy of accuracy”).

Regular expressions, though, also suffer from a reputation of being difficult to learn and to understand. This reputation is well deserved: no matter how useful regular expressions may be, nobody can say that something that looks like "\b(0?[1-9]|1[012])[- /.](0?[1-9]|[12][0-9]|3[01])[- /.](19|20)?[0-9]{2}\b" is simple, easy to understand, or easy to construct.

Many people, therefore, after taking a look at regular expressions, decide they are not for them: they look too difficult. But while sophisticated uses or regular expression do tend to look forbidding, certain regular expressions are simple and amazingly useful.

Let's see an example: say that you are translating a long document about painting systems, and that you want to check all the segments in which the term "topcoat" appears. Since Studio has a very useful filter feature, you know you can enter the word "topcoat" in the filter, and obtain all the segments in which it appears.

Unfortunately, though, you noticed during your translation that the source language is not very consistent: sometimes "topcoat" is written as a single word, sometimes as two separate words ("top coat"), and sometimes the author used a mid-way solution and hyphenated the term ("top-coat"). You can certainly use the filter three times entering the three different versions of the term, and find all the segments that contain each. But using regular expressions it is also possible to do it all at once: use a single search expression to find "topcoat", "top coat" and "top-coat".

To do so, enter in the filter top.?coat.

What does this regex string do?

It searches for all terms that contain the sequence of letters "top", followed by any character (the dot) repeated zero or one times (the question mark), followed by the sequence of letters "coat".

Using an expression that lets us search for any character we were able to find those instances in which "top" and "coat" are separated by a hyphen or a space, and by telling it to search for that character only once or zero times, we were able to also search for those instances in which "top" are "coat" are attached, while excluding longer strings in which "top" and "coat" appear separated by more than one character (we do not want the filter to also return "when you paint the top, make sure you are not coating the sides as well" - which we would get if we had used in the filter top.*coat, instead)

More powerful regular expressions may look difficult - but you can start using simple ones, which are nonetheless very useful.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Xbench adds support for SDL Trados Studio memories

If you have not updated to version 3 of Xbench, now there is yet another reason to do so: the most recent build of the tool (build 1136) adds support for SDL Trados Studio memories (.sdltm files), so, if you were accustomed to convert them to TMX format just to be able to search for terms in them using Xbench, you no longer need to do so. You can download Xbench from Xbench.net. If you download version 3, make sure to choose the correct version for your operating system: there are both a 32-bit and a 64-bit editions of the tool.

Xbench freeware version (2.9) is still available, and still useful, but ApSIC is clearly adding value to the new commercial version of their terminology management and translation QA tool.

If you need an introduction to Xbench, you can download one from this blog (click here): the intorduction is now a bit out of date, as I had written it for the previous version of the tool, but still touches most important functions.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

DéjàVu: 20th anniversary discounts

It was about twenty years ago that I started working with my first CAT tool. It was the very first version of DéjàVu, and I probably still have somewhere my first installation diskette... I think its serial number was 27. Emilio Benito had programmed the new application, and supported it very actively, making fixes and improvements happens almost immediately.

It's been many years since I stopped using DéjàVu (not because I didn't like the program, but rather because I had started working for a company which choose a different CAT tool) but I still have good memories of the program and of how it made working in translation easier.

To celebrate the program's twentieth anniversary, Atril is offering a 20% discount on its products until May 28th.

Time to vote for the top 100 Language Lovers 2013 competition

Voting for the Top 100 Language Lovers 2013 competition is under way - you have until June 9th to give your votes to your favorite language blog, Facebook page or twitterer.

This year, Lexiophiles received 1024 nominations. Out of those nominations, they selected proceed to the voting phase 200 blogs in two different categories (language professional blog and language learner blog), 100 language Facebook pages, and 100 language twitterer to proceed to the voting phase.

Browse through the list of language blogs, Facebook pages and twitterers: you'll likely find some wonderful blog, page or twitter account you didn't know before.

About Translation has been included in the Language Professional Blogs category. If you like this blog, please consider giving it your vote!

To vote, click on the following button: it will lead you to a page where you'll be able to caset your vote for your favorite language professional blog.

Vote the Top 100 Language Professional Blogs 2013

On the right, on the same page there are the buttons to get you to the other three categories.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

(Bull)Shift Happens

Keith Laska, CEO of SDL, has recently published a self-serving, jargon-filled post on SDL's community blog.

His claim is not all that novel: that there is so much content to translate now, that MT must be part of the equation. He then goes out on a limb with some unsubstantiated claims about how MT has become so much better, in recent years (can you spot the logical fallacy in a statement like "As for MT quality concerns: the machine translation quality debate is dead. Over 75% of our language markets report the use - or pending use - of some form of machine translation solution."? - a hint: "use" or "pending use" are not the same as "successful use", and stating, without a shred of evidence, that the MT debate is over doesn't mean that it is).

But my question is another: is there a special secret pact between CEOs that requires them to spew such corporate drivel as "value is now at the critical intersection between machines and humans"? Is that sentence supposed to mean something, or is it there just to give the impression that it carries some momentous meaning? Am I alone in thinking that "thought leadership", in "to drive high-quality, secure MT improvements, innovation and thought leadership" sounds creepy?

Keith, if you do have some good MT product or strategy, write your post again, in a way that does not make the reader think that your product or service is so poor you have to hide it in a fog of jargon lest your prospects realize how hollow the vaunted MT progress actually is.

Speaking as an SDL customer, in fact, I have a suggestion: why don't you redirect some of the efforts you are spending on pushing MT onto the unwary, and instead concentrate on actually improving those products of yours that we human translators use every day? A hint: starting with long overdue improvements to fuzzy-matching algorithms would be a good idea.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

When will SDL improve fuzzy matching?

In a series of posts between 2005 and 2008 I had expressed my frustration at the poor, and sometimes dangerous and misleading, fuzzy matches offered by "old" Trados. SDL Trados Studio is a match better tool, overall, than Trados Wrokbench, but in one respect it has not improved at all: fuzzy matching. You can see from the screenshot below that I had just translated the title "GENERAL CLEANING PROCEDURES".


Two segments down, the same title appears again, again all in upper case. But since the surrounding tags are different, the translation memory does not offer my translation for the title as a suggestion. It does, instead, suggest several other segments, all of which are poor matches for the text of my segment, but all of which have more similar tags.

For more on fuzzy matching woes, see these previous posts of mine:
Looking back at these old titles, I realize that I was somewhat intemperate in my wording - especially in the first two posts. I apologize for that, but the meat of the question remains: the purpose of fuzzy matching should be to help translators by leveraging past translations. By not improving their fuzzy matching algorithms, SDL is failing us. I repeat what I said in my previous posts: SDL's programmers should get to work and improve the fuzzy matching algorithms they use, so as to give more weight to the more significant parts of the segment. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

INTERSECT: A Newsletter About Language, Culture and Interpreting

Cross-Cultural Communications is a training agency in the U.S. devoted to community interpreting and cultural competence. I don't really know much about the services they offer, but Intersect, the e-mail newsletter they publish about language, culture and interpreting, collects interesting news about language and interpreting. If your are interested, you can subscribe here.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Mediterranean Editors & Translators - Language, Culture and Identity

Registration is now open for Mediterranean Editors and Translators’ 9th annual meeting

Language, Culture and Identity

24-26 October 2013, Monastery of Poblet, Tarragona, Catalonia


Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Monday, May 06, 2013

Top 100 Language Lovers 2013 – Nominate your favourite now!

The  bab.la language portal and the Lexiophiles language blog are announcing the start of the contest to choose the Top 100 Language Lovers.
You can nominate your favorite blog, facebook page or Twitter account in the following categories:
1. Language Learning Blogs: blogs about the language learning process, both from the learners and teachers perspective.
2. Language Professionals Blogs: blogs by people using languages in their profession, such as translators or interpreters.
3. Language Facebook Pages: Facebook Pages related to language topics, such as dictionaries, translation tools, language lovers’ communities and more.
4. Language Twitter accounts: Twitterers who share content about languages.
The nominations for the Top 100 Language Lovers 2013 competition are open until May 20th, 23:59 pm German time. 
About Translation was chosen among the top 100 language blogs in 2008 and 2011, and in 2011 among the top 25 language professionals blogs.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Note-Taking for Translators

Tomorrow (Saturday) is the 3rd Annual Conference of the Colorado Translators Association.

I'll be giving a presentation on "Note-Taking for Translators and Translation Editors".

I've added a page to this blog with links to the presentation in Power Point and pdf formats.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Italian dictionaries online

I first wrote about the Italian bilingual and monolingual dictionaries available online some five years ago. Since, however, such links are liable to change, with old sites disappearing and new ones taking their place, here is an up to date list of sites that offer English-Italian, Italian monolingual, and other Italian bilingual dictionaries:

  • Picchi's English-Italian dictionary (published by Hoepli) is available for free from La Repubblica website: Dizionari - La Repubblica. The same site also offers the Grande Dizionario di Italiano Hoepli.
  • The current incarnation of the excellent Sansoni English-Italian dictionary (published by Rizzoli) is available online at the Corriere della Sera website: Dizionari e Traduttori - Corriere della Sera. The same web page also offers several other Italian monolingual dictionaries and Italian-Spanish, Italian-French and Italian-German bilingual dictionaries.
  • The venerable Hazon English-Italian dictionary is available from the Garzanti website: Garzanti Linguistica, where you can also find Garzanti's Italian monolingual dictionary and an Italian-French bilingual dictionary.
  • The English-Italian bilingual dictionary I'm currently using most often is Ragazzini's. You can subscribe to it on Zanichelli's site (Dizionari online Zanichelli). From the same site you can subscribe to several other dictionaries, including Zingarelli (Italian monolingual), Tommaseo (a historic Italian monolingual dictionary), several different specialized English-Italian bilingual dictionaries, and other bilingual dictionaries including Italian-Spanish, Italian-French, Italian-German, Italian-Russian and Italian-Albanian.
  • Oxford-Paravia Concise English-Italian dictionary is available from the Oxford-Paravia website.
  • WordReference.com offers access to two different English-Italian dictionaries: its own and Collins'.
  • The eLexico.com website offers a wide range of bilingual and monolingual dictionaries, either via online subscriptions (generally more expensive than those available from Zanichelli), downloadable installable dictionaries, or both things combined. Among the dictionaries downloadable from eLexico.com are Picchi, Sansoni, the excellent Italian monolingual Devoto-Oli, and many others.
  • Lexicool.com lets the user search many different dictionaries. You can find Italian-English bilingual dictionaries, as well as Italian and English monolingual resources (Thanks to Carlotta for the suggestion)
  • The Treccani website offers access to the Enciclopedia italiana online, to the Italian language Vocabolario, and to a good Italian synonyms dictionary  (Thanks to Licia for the suggestion)


I've added links to the Lexicool and Treccani sites, thanks to suggestions by Carlotta Saconney and Licia Corbolante.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Quick tip: how to avoid the "Attempted to read or write protected memory" error in Studio

Some time a file (usually an MS Word file) causes Studio to display the following error message:

Sometimes, Studio, instead of displaying the error (or in addition to it), shows garbage characters in the Editor:

According to the SDL knowledge base, this is likely due with problems displaying certain specific fonts (and, indeed, this source file did use some unusual fonts).

If this is the reason for the error (I believe it might appear in other instances), the way to overcome it, is to prevent studio to try to display formatting. You do this by going to the Options ( Tools > Options), and change the "Formatting display style" from "Show all formatting and tags"

To "Show all tags but do not show formatting":

When you return to the Editor you'll see that the text now displays correctly:

Friday, April 12, 2013

Warning: the lowest price may actually harm you

Just read this in a translation company's blog:
The quoting of a project is as important as the process in which the work is actually done. Quoting at the lowest price, for example, will attract clients and provides greater sales possibilities.
I find this simplistic, self-serving and misleading. Yes, other things being equal a customer will choose the lower bid.

Things are seldom equal, however, and customers might actually value other things more than saving the last few pennies. They might, for example, value the better quality provided by a better (and more expensive) translator.

But never fear: that same translation company assures us that
At [XX] Translations, we provide our client with the most competitive pricing and the highest quality in the industry.
I could believe they sell at the lowest price (though that would be difficult to prove, with the translation market as fragmented as it is); or maybe I could believe that they are able to offer the best quality (again, a difficult proposition to prove). That they can provide the lowest prices AND the best quality, both at the same time? Sorry: no, I cannot believe that.

The problem with certain agencies is that they seem so terrified by their competitors, that they try everything to lower their prices. But at what heavy cost! this way they are more likely to lose their best translators, and remain with the worst, thus decreasing the quality they can actually offer (no matter what they boast). And the more they are unable to compete on quality, the more they have to compete on price, in a downward spiral that, I believe, will doom many formerly good and viable translation companies.

Unfortunately, in their fall they are probably going to damage many translators, and many unsuspecting clients who believed exaggerated claims of good quality from companies that are no longer able to sustain them.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Quick tip: how to make text easier to read in Studio

Sometimes when you work in Studio, the color of the text makes it either difficult or even impossible to read...

There is a simple solution: from the Editor, select Options, then Editor, and then Font Adaptarion:

Adjust the Text color contrast slider, if necessary, all the way to the right:

The result is much easier to read:

And bear in mind that changing how the text is displayed in Studio won't affect how it appears in your translation.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

New book: "Role of Translation in Nation Building"

Ravi Kumar, president of the Indian Translators Association, and editor of a new book on translation, has just sent me the following announcement about an interesting new book: "Role of Translation in Nation Building".

The book has been jointly published by Modlingua and the Indian Translators Association.

The book talks about how translators have always played a pivotal role in social and cultural change in society and how they continue to play a major role in dissemination of the ever expanding knowledge and information available today. In this globalized world the demand for translation and language related services has increased many times and that translation is not only needed for the creation of national identity but it has also become an essential tool for keeping pace with the processes of globalization and localization. Many times we take for granted the translator's crucial role at the (intra) national level and we are less aware of their equally pivotal place as mediators at the international level and, potentially, in the creation of the even larger and comprehensive global supra national identities which seem destined to follow in the future.

The book also covers how translation has played crucial role in shaping up nations not only in Indian/Asian context but also in the context of Europe, Canada, Africa, Australia and Arab world. Hence, in a way, the extent/range of thoughts/issues discussed in the book, encompass the entire globe. The book is also an attempt to find answers to issues like:

  • What role has translation played in Nation Building in the Indian as well as global context?
  • How easy or difficult is it to view Translation and Nation Building as a well-gelling couple?
  • Did translation play a role in Turkish modernism movements and its accession to European Union?
  • What about Translation and Nation Building in the African, Arabian and Australian contexts?
  • Do national conflicts and language politics actually impact literary works and translations?
  • How can media play an effective part in bringing social changes by means of translations?
  • How has translation impacted the discourse on nationalism and globalization in the Arab World?

The book can be utilized as a guiding base/reference tool/textbook by:

  • Students of language learning and its theory; translation studies; literature.
  • Research scholars working in areas related to translation, nationalism, globalization, international studies, etc.
  • Professors, teachers involved in teaching the above mentioned subjects/topics.

Digital as well as Printed version available at Modlingua, K-5B, Lower Ground Floor, Kalkaji, New Delhi -110019
SMS: +91-8287636881 E-mail: sales@modlingua.com

ISBN Printed Version: 978-81-926798-0-8; ISBN Digital Version: 978-81-926798-1-5. Price within India INR 395, outside India US $ 24.95. Payment option available through Paypal. Contact:
Modlingua Learning
K-5B, Lower Ground Floor
Kalkaji, New Delhi -110019
Web: www.modlingua.comSMS: +91-8287636881 Skype: ravikumar.net
Facebook Link: https://www.facebook.com/modlingua

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Unfair business practices

I received an e-mail asking me to join a new phone-interpreting service. Phone interpreting is not a service I would normally consider, but I went to the site, just to have a look. Then I read their "general terms and conditions", and found these two egregious conditions:
5.1 Translin will invoice and make all commercially reasonable efforts to collect payment from the Client. At the end of each month, the Interpreter will receive an e-mail listing the work for that month and the amount that can be invoiced. The Interpreter is responsible for invoicing Translin. Translin applies a 14 Business Day payment term after receipt of invoice.
5.2 In the event that the Client has complained about the quality of the service provided by you, Translin has the right to reduce or cancel payment to the Interpreter if and to the extent Translin in its sole discretion considers the Client’s complaint to have merit.
Now, "will invoice and make all commercially reasonable efforts to collect payment from the Client" sure seems to imply that if they do not collect from their Client, you are out of luck, and you won't be able to invoice Translin.
Worse yet, they can always decide to dock your pay or not to pay you at all if they decide their client's complaint is justified... and they get to decide that at their "sole discretion".

My advice: stay away from this service.

Bottom line: always read the fine print, and don't be afraid to reject conditions it they are not fair.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Xbench 3.0 – Making good on my promise

Well before ApSIC announced the pro version of Xbench – when the program was still just freeware – I said (and wrote) several times that I would be ready to pay for the program whenever ApSIC decided to turn it into a commercial product.

I've just made good on my promise by pre-paying for two subscriptions to Xbench.

If you are interested in Xbench, and want to obtain it at a steep discount, tomorrow is the last day you can get it at the special  19 early pre-release rate.

After January 10, you'll still be able pre-pay the subscription at a (decreasing) discount:
  • €19/year until January 10
  • €39/year until January 17
  • €59/year until January 24
  • €79/year until BETA officially ends
  • €99/year after the official release of the program.
So, if you find Xbench useful (I find it indispensable) it's a good idea to prepay for it while it is offered at a reduced price. To download Xbench, and to pre-pay the subscriptions, go to www.Xbench.net.