Friday, May 20, 2016

Top 100 Language Lovers 2016: voting phase has started

The Top 100 Language Lovers 2016 voting phase has started, and both this blog and my Twitter account are among the candidates.

This is the ninth year that the competition has been organized. About Translation has been voted among the top 100 a couple of times in the past, but this is the first time that my Twitter account has been selected for voting

The competition is looking for the best 100 Language Lovers in the following five categories: Language Learning Blogs, Language Professionals Blogs, Language Facebook Pages, Language Twitter Accounts and Language YouTube Channels.

The voting phase lasts from May 19th to June 6th. During this period, everyone can vote for their favorite Language Lovers in the five social media categories. The final results will be based on the internal ranking criteria of and Lexiophiles (50 %) and user votes (50 %). The winners will be announced on June 9th.

Click below to go to the voting page for the Language Professional blogs:
Vote the Top 100 Language Professional Blogs 2016

Click below to go to the voting page for the Language Twitter accounts:
Vote the Top 100 Language Twitterer 2016

(Once you are on the voting page, select your favorite and click on the Vote button)

Thursday, May 19, 2016

How to increase your chances when contacting translation companies - from a translation agency’s point of view

This is a guest post by Aniello Attianese, in response to my post 15 tips on how to increase your chances when contacting translation companies. Aniello Attaniese is a Project Manager at Translation Services 24, a translation company in London specialized in legal and marketing translation services which works with a variety of clients, from UK SMEs to Large multinational organisations.

Reading one of Riccardo’s articles published back in 2014 about "15 tips on how to increase your chances when contacting translation companies", I simply couldn’t help but agree that some of the points he had made sound awfully familiar and accurate. Working for a translation agency myself (Translation Services 24), every day I personally come across translators who wish to join our team, and so they approach our agency in a number of different ways.

Certainly, our agency receives a number of well written and professional emails and those are the applications we pay close attention to. Nevertheless, we also receive applications which, simply put, do not meet our agency’s standards. Sadly, because the translator behind the email could be very talented and professional at what their actual job is, still, due to the number of applications we receive, it is simply impossible to contact each person and so naturally we need to eliminate some.

Referring to Riccardo’s post again, I’d like to talk about some of the tips he has mentioned and look at them from our agency’s point of view.
  1. Running an in-depth research and finding out more about who you’re about to email is definitely an important point and perhaps something that can influence your success rate greatly. As an agency, we clearly state on our website that the preferred way to contact us regarding any job opportunities is by filling out our online application form or emailing our HR department directly. Instead, we receive countless generic emails to our accounts’ email address. Although we sometimes review these applications anyway, they might not be prioritised over someone who actually took their time to find out more about our company and followed our guidelines. Therefore, it’s always important to, for example, visit agency’s website or social media profiles to gather more information prior to initial contact.
  2. When receiving applications from translators, it is always extremely helpful to us, as a translation agency, when any specific sector and relevant information beyond languages covered are mentioned in the application. Due to the number of applications we receive, we simply cannot contact each and every person who gets in touch with us. Including such information not only allows our project managers to update their databases regularly, but also increases translator’s chances of being contacted by us if a project within their niche of expertise arises.
  3. Creating straightforward and self-explanatory subjects for emails is really important. This can be especially true when emailing agency’s generic email address so that it is not treated it as spam. Nevertheless, our HR department opens every application email regardless.
  4. Perhaps similarly to any translation agency, we prefer to work with native speakers of the target language. We do however work with possibly 10-15 translators who translate not only into their mother tongue but also cover other languages pairs. This, nevertheless, is very rare and each of these translators has been working with us for at least 5 years, proving their accuracy time after time and started working with us as native language only translators too.
  5. When it comes to the CV itself, Riccardo was quite right advising to keep it simple and straight to the point. From talking to our HR managers, I know they prefer résumés that focus on languages, experience and specialities, rather than rates and irrelevant details. Also, it is extremely important to make sure your CV flawlessly written, without any errors, grammar mistakes etc. If there are mistakes in your CV, which you could proof read a number of times without a deadline and stress before sending it to us, what guarantees do we have that you won’t make even bigger mistakes working with us, which often can be to a tight deadline and under pressure?
  6. Of course, all the information you include in your CV must be true. In our translation agency, we do have a small team within our HR department whose main job is to strictly check references, qualifications etc. of any translator with whom we are potentially interested working with.
  7. Also, as Riccardo mentioned in his post, it is quite important to mention any relative and industry specific tools and software you can use as well as any professional organisations/institutes you are part of. This really helps us paint a picture of you and will allow our managers to contact you regarding jobs that are more suitable for you and your skill set. A great example of this can be the knowledge of Illustrator/Photoshop. If you also provide DTP services together with your translations, make sure to mention it!
I hope this article has given you a little more insight into what translation agencies similar to ours expect from their applicants and what is it that makes a real difference and can help you stand out from the crowd, and believe me, it’s crowded out there!

Monday, May 09, 2016

WordWeb Pro: dictionary and multi-search application

A few posts ago, in my article on Reverso Context, I mentioned several multi-search applications from which Reverso could be called. One of these, the one I use the most, is WordWeb Pro.

WordWeb Pro is chiefly a dictionary: in its free version (more about that, and its unusual licensing terms, later) it comes with a large English language dictionary that offers synonyms, antonyms, other useful features such as subordinate and superordinate categories, the ability to restrict searches to a specific grammatical category and to search, from within the program, also Wikipedia and Wiktionary.

WordWeb Pro
WordWeb Pro
The Pro version adds optional dictionaries, for example the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, Chambers Thesaurus, the New Oxford American Dictionary and several others (but you have to buy them separately). It also allows adding your own glossaries, adding terms and definitions to the main dictionary, and adding searches from many online dictionary and search engines. I've added, for example, the Microsoft Language Portal, Google Advance Search, Linguee, Reverso Context, the WordReference EN-IT and several other specialized monolingual and bilingual dictionaries.

WordWeb Pro's tabs—with the dictionaries and searches I use
WordWeb Pro's tabs—with the dictionaries and searches I use
The full list of features is too long for a short article, but they include:
  • Thesaurus and dictionary for Windows 
  • Customizable hotkey, which allows instant look up from almost any program 
  • Restricting the search for synonyms and antonyms by part of speech
  • Full text search (so you can search within the definitions)
  • Adding your own glossaries 
  • Using various patterns and wildcards in searches (useful when you are looking for a word but you aren’t sure how to spell it) 
  • X-Ref button to extend the search to other dictionaries installed on the computer 
  • Adding new words or sets of words with their definitions and usage examples to the dictionary 
  • Importing and exporting the added terms to common spreadsheet-format files 
  • Bookmarks (for example, to remember past searches: useful to keep track of which words and terms most often give you problems) 
  • Replace button to substitute a synonym in a document you are editing 
  • Possibility of using the tool without the need to be online (for the installed dictionaries only: you need to be online to use the web search).
I use WordWeb in two different ways: to quickly search its main dictionary and thesaurus, and as a multi-search tool that allows me searching several dictionaries and websites all at the same time.

To add a new search site to WordWeb Pro, follow this procedure:
  1. Go to the Options menu
  2. Select Dictionary tabs...
    The Dictionary tabs window opens
  3. In the Dictionary tabs Window, click the New button
    The Web reference window opens
  4. Give a name to the new web reference (the new search), and add its URL (web address), using “%s” as a placeholder for the search term.
So, for example, to add Google, you put Google as the name of the search engine and as the search strings.

How to add a new search engine in WordWeb Pro
How to add a new search engine in WordWeb Pro
The best way to find where to put your placeholder in the URL is to perform a search and then examine the URL of the retrieved page to see where the search string goes. So, for example, to see which URL I needed to add, I searched for the word “test” in Google. Google converted that to the URL and I then replaced “test” with the placeholder “%s” in that URL, to get the search string to use in WordWeb.

WordWeb Pro allows adding dozens of search engines but the number of tabs provided is limited to twenty-one or so—you can, however, select and deselect the ones you have added depending on which sites you need to search.

If you don't want to pay for WordWeb Pro, you can use WordWeb Free to evaluate the program (minus the Pro features), but if you continue using the free version instead of upgrading to Pro, the requirements to be eligible are fairly peculiar (and eco-friendly): WordWeb Free may be used indefinitely only by people who take no more than two commercial flights (and only one return flight) in any 12-month period—to restrict the free version to people who limit their carbon footprint.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

An update to my Reverso Context review

I've received a message from Théo Hoffenberg of Reverso, with some additional information about Reverso Context:
Hello Riccardo,

Thanks a lot for your review of Reverso Context. I would like to give you some additional comments or info, which you can use if you wish.

It’s true that it’s similar in approach to Linguee, and by the way, we had this design and plan five years before Linguee, but we wanted to have enough corpora and computing power to launch it at the level we aimed at.

It’s true also that Linguee has more languages and language combinations, but we’ll also expand and try focus on the main markets first, because we go much deeper for each language combination.

What is unique about Reverso Context
  • Main translations on top are computed by our algorithms and shows you the alignment. This requires a lot of engineering, linguistic and computing time to make the alignment as good as possible;
  • You can pronounce full examples, which is nice for learning;
  • You can save examples in your phrasebook (online and on the app too, and soon synchronized);
  • You have both spoken language (real-life) and official documents (more formal / technical) like EU, UN … and other tools have one or the other;
  • There is intelligent conjugation and definitions dictionaries linked for several languages;
  • It’s integrated in Reverso ecosystem with collaborative dictionary, full-text translation, conjugation, spelling, etc. 
Hope this info is useful to you. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you need more info / insight.


Théo H.
I included Théo's message also as an update at the bottom of my review of the tool (Reverso Context, an app for language learners that can also help translators).