Monday, November 30, 2015

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Three technical manuals for translators

Three books I highly recommend to translators interested in improving their technical skills:

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Linguee now available for iPad and iPhone

The well-known online bilingual dictionary Linguee has launched a completely new free dictionary app for the iPhone and iPad. With this new app, there are more words and phrases available than ever before, also offline. A further highlight is the modern user interface, which sets Linguee apart from previous dictionary apps. Linguee is fully integrated with iOS 9: you can also look up translations in other apps. Further information about this new concept can be found in the attached press release. 

You can download and try out the new app here.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Translation 101: Starting Out As A Translator

The number of handbooks aimed at beginning or more seasoned translators is growing. A recent addition is Translation 101: Starting Out as a Translator, by Petro Dudi.

I haven't had the time to read the whole book yet, but it should prove useful, especially to beginning translators.

If you are interested in the eBook alone, probably the cheapest price is through Amazon (or another webstore, like Lulu) - but if you want an unlocked version of the book, in three different formats (pdf, eBook and Mobi), and three additional spreadsheet tools, then go through the author's own website.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Unhelpful help

I've often criticized SDL for writing very opaque documentation, and I have occasionally said Kilgray's help files are more useful.

That is not always true:

Unhelpful help screenshot

Either Kilgray is saying that to create your first memoQ project you have to enter some text in the help system, or they forgot to write that text themselves.

The most likely explanation is that this is an obsolete section title that should not have been included in the help system, of course - it does not appear in the online help. It does look funny, though, and could stump a beginning translator.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

More about translation at the Hugo Awards

In addition to the Hugo for the best novel, a translated work also won the award for the best novelette: “The Day the World Turned Upside Down”, by Dutch author Thomas Olde Heuvelt, translated by Lia Belt (Lightspeed, 04-2014).

And since neither of the other two fiction awards had a winner this year, that means translations won in all the fiction categories in which an award was given. Congratulations to the authors, and to their translators!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

For the first time ever, a translated novel wins the Hugo Award

"The Three Body Problem" has won the 2015 Hugo Award for best novel.

This is the first time that the prize has been given to a translated work. Congratulations to Cixin Liu, the novel's author, and to Ken Liu, its translator. Congratulations also to the publisher, for doing the right thing and prominently displaying the translator's name alongside the author's, on the cover of the book:

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Quick Tips - IFTTT

Quick tip: a simple way to simplify many repetitive tasks is to use IFTTT (if this then that)... e.g. to speed up creating quick blog posts.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Quick Tips - Personal translation manual

Use a program like Info Select, One Note, Cinta Notes, Evernote or similar to create your own personal translation manual: a document (or collection of documents) where you keep all permanent notes and instructions - such as instructions on how to invoice a certain customer, customer’s preferences as regards formatting, etc.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

At least one translator in Italy is happy with her job

We translators are often a grumpy lot, ready to complain about many things.

It's refreshing to see someone who admits that "Working as a translator in Italy is the best job I’ve ever had"

(from the Irish times).

Monday, July 06, 2015

How to Improve Your Command of Source and Target Languages

I always suggest to my translation students to work on improving their command of both source and target languages. One effective way of accomplishing this is to enlarge our vocabulary - with a focus on the words we encounter in our translation projects.
  1. Every time you translate something, take careful note of all the words that you are uncertain about of that leave you with some doubt: the words you are not sure what they mean, and those you know what they mean - but you don't know how to say the same in your target language.
  2. Use a dictionary to learn about each of these words: both a good monolingual dictionary of your source language and a bilingual dictionary of your source and target languages. Even better: use several source and bilingual dictionaries, both paper and online.
  3. Read in full the dictionary entries for each word - not only the subhead closer to the meaning suggested by your context, but all the rest of the entry, including different meanings and meanings marked as obsolete.
  4. If your monolingual dictionary gives a meaning that is not covered in your bilingual dictionary, start to research how that specific word and meaning could be translated. Take notes of the example sentences given in the dictionary, and think how you could translate them.
  5. Don't limit yourself at searching in dictionaries: consult also encyclopedias and other reference works.
  6. See how these words are used in context in a variety of situations. Online tools like Google Advanced Search and Google Book Search can be very helpful to see how the words you are studying are used in the real world, both in books and in web pages and documents.
  7. Be thorough, and keep careful notes. Remember that your notes can be the starting points for further research.
  8. Think about the words you are studying: what they mean in your source language and what their translation mean in your target language. How the meanings differ between the two languages (for example, a word in your source language may share a core meaning with a word in your target language, but other meanings that each word may have in one or the other language may differ), and how register, connotation and usage differ between the two languages.
Keep on doing this, as much and as thoroughly as you can, and you'll see that your command not only of your source language, but also of your native language, will steadily improve.

Friday, May 29, 2015

International Terminology Summer School 2015

If you are a terminologist, or would like to be, this might interest you:
International Terminology Summer School 2015
13-17 July 2015
Cologne University for Applied Sciences
The organizers have received by now almost 70 registrations from participants coming from more than 20 different countries and representing important organizations, companies and universities, but a few places are still available. 
You can register at: 
The International Terminology Summer School (TSS) is the leading and largest international summer school for terminology professionals with about 80 participants from some 40 countries and almost every continent. TSS offers a one-week, practice-oriented training course covering a comprehensive overview of the methods and principles of terminology management. The course is taught by some of the most renowned and prominent terminology experts in the world. Participation in TSS qualifies to obtain the ECQA Certificate for Terminology Managers. 
More information about program, venue and travel at:

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Top 100 Language Lovers 2015

Just as it has done every year since 2008, LexioPhiles has organized the "Top 100 Language Lovers 2015" competition, which is currently at the voting stage.

You can vote for your favorite blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and YouTube channels, in several different categories:
By following the links above you can get directly to each category, where you can see your favorite language sites or accounts, or perhaps find new ones you didn't know.

This year, About Translation has been nominated in the Language Professionals Blogs category. If you like this blog, and want to vote for it, you can do so by clicking on this button:

Vote the Top 100 Language Professional Blogs 2015

...and if you decide to vote for this blog, thank you!

New version of my Xbench presentation now available for viewing and download

I've just uploaded the new version of my Xbench presentation, now updated with all the changes I made to it for the workshop I gave at the 5th CTA Conference, earlier this month. You can view a copy of the presentation as an online presentation by going to the Xbench page of this blog, or you can download a zipped copy of the presentation, from the same page.

Xbench currently offered at a 60% discount

Xbench, an excellent translation QA and terminology management tool, is currently on offer at a 60% discount (only Euro 39/year, instead of the regular 99/year). The special price offer will last until June 5.

You can find a through presentation of what Xbench is and how it can help you with terminology management and translation QA in the presentation you can see in another page of this same blog.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

How to use Google to determine which candidate translation to use

Few tools are as ubiquitous in the translation world as Google: we use it all the time to search for the meaning of obscure terms. But Google searches can do much more than that: they can help us determine which of several candidate translations is the best, or the most used (the two things may not coincide) in our target language.

For example a legal translation I'm doing at the moment mentions "buyer's remorse". According to Wikipedia, "Buyer's remorse" is "the sense of regret after having made a purchase. It is frequently associated with the purchase of an expensive item" - something, I'm sure, most of us have experienced at some time or another.

The meaning is clear, but... how should we translate this into Italian?
A few candidate terms come to mind: "rimorso", "pentimento", and "ripensamento" "del compratore" or "dell'acquirente".

By performing an advanced search in Google, we can restrict our searches to only sites in Italian and/or sites from Italy.

The results I found are:
Candidate translation
# of hits
rimorso del compratore
rimorso dell’acquirente
pentimento del compratore
pentimento dell’acquirente
ripensamento del compratore
ripensamento dell’acquirente

Now things are clearer: "pentimento" (which was the translation that first came to my mind) is clearly out: too few hits in Italian pages. The two "rimorso" entries are plausible candidates, but, in my opinion, rimorso is not the most appropriate word here: it's almost a false friend in this context – still, they may be what’s used in Italy, so they remain as term candidates. Of the final pair of candidates, "ripensamento del compratore" is clearly used much less than "ripensamento dell'acquirente", so this latter now becomes my leading candidate.

There is still more to do, of course: verify that my candidate term is in fact used in contexts similar to the document I'm translating, and that, in this particular context, one of the other candidate terms is not better or more appropriate. So this time I search again for "rimorso del compratore", for "rimorso dell'acquirente", and for "ripensamento dell'acquirente", this time together with another word ("immobile", in this case) to help restrict the context.

The results are now:
Candidate translation
# of hits
rimorso del compratore
rimorso dell’acquirente
ripensamento dell’acquirente

The latter clearly seems a strong candidate translation.

Of course, frequency of use is not the only criterion to use when searching for a term, but it's a good start.

Thursday, March 12, 2015 is an addictive game (and resource) ideal for translators.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Weird search and replace bug in Studio 2014 SP2

If you have recently noticed weird search and replace behavior in SDL Trados Studio 2014 SP2, a workaround (that only works in certain searches, however) could be as simple as closing the “Find options” pane.


In the “Find what” box I entered two spaces, and one in the “Replace with” (to search and fix accidental occurrences of double spaces).

When I launched the search, the program started by finding every single character in my translation, i.e., it was stopping at every character, whether it was a space (let alone a double space) or not.


When I closed the “Find options” pane the search behaved as expected.


When the “Find options” pane is closed, all the options you have chosen there no longer seem to apply. You can verify this yourself:

  1. With the “Find options” pane expanded, select “Match case”. 
  2. In the “Find what” box enter an upper case letter (no matter which, so long as it is present in your translation.
  3. Launch the search.

    The program will behave correctly, finding only instances of the upper case letter you searched for.
  4. Without changing anything else (i.e., don’t deselect the “Match case” box), close the “Find options” pane.
  5. Launch the search again.

    The program will now find every single instance of the letter, both upper and lower case.
This is a new bug: I’m sure that before SP2 Studio did not behave this way.


The first issue (the one that has to do with searching for double spaces) might be specific either to Studio professional or to the way it is installed on my machine: I've tried the same search on another computer where Studio Freelance was installed, but the program behaved normally (i.e., it did not match every single character).

On the other hand, the second issue (not taking into consideration the options when the Find Options pane is closed) can be reproduced on other machine, so I would consider it as a real bug.

Friday, February 13, 2015

2005-2015: Ten Years of About Translation

Exactly ten years ago I published When the "correct" translation is wrong, my first post in this blog.

Approximately a year after we established Aliquantum, our translation company, I launched About Translation, without a specific plan but with the idea that it would help attract customers.Since it wasn’t planned with customers in mind, however, it hasn't attracted them: it is read mostly by other translators who are interested in the same things that interest me. In hindsight, it is probably better this way: I might have abandoned the blog if it wasn't about something I personally find interesting.

About Translation, as it was in 2005
A few miscellaneous things

The name of this blog is a homage to the title of Peter Newmark's book "About Translation".
This was among the first blogs on translation (though certainly not the first), and it is now among the oldest still running (but there are a few still active that were started before About Translation); the oldest I know is Transblawg (going strong since 2003).
About Translation recently passed the one million pageviews mark on Blogspot (but Blogspot stats only date back to 2010). The real number is probably 1.25 million: using a different stat system, I had counted a total of 250K pageviews five years ago.

Most frequent subjects:

Translation technology (e.g., CAT tools), business practices, and advice to beginning translators.


The number of posts has gone up and down during the years, with a high of 74 posts in 2006, and a low of 14 the following year. The total is 454 posts so far (including this one).
The post with the most readers is How to run Trados 2007 with Word 2010, (34747 page views and 60 comments), but the articles I like the most are two articles on wildcard searches in MS Word: How to use wildcard and format searches in MSWord to make sure all your numbers are formatted correctly, and Another Useful Wildcard Search

Other articles you might like:

Plans for the future:

Stay tuned for new articles and some new features