Re: Translation Issues

Subject: Re: Translation Issues
From: "Nickell Traduction" <nickelltrad -at- autoroute -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2000 02:43:45 -0500

I agree that translation memory software helps to a point. I am a
translator (10 years' experience, currently doing the certificate in
technical communication at Concordia). For certain types of text, it is
helpful, but for most, including many technical texts, it's just a pain. I
am constantly having to revise the "computer", and honestly sometimes it is
faster if I had done it from scratch, especially if I am already well-versed
in the topic. There was a study done on the use of translation memory
software, presented at the CTIC convention in September 1998. It was found
that, with the exception of highly repetitive texts, this type of software
is actually found to slow down the translation process, because so much more
revision has to go into it. Anyway, I have personally used Trados and
WINJoust products. Since I don't just work for a single client and work in
many different fields, the actual advantage of these products is lost. Now
if you are working for a single client and the texts are almost identical
each time, yes, it may be worth the incredible cost of these products, but
if you are constantly dealing with different types of text, you may not have
enough work in a "single" field to make the cost worth it.

Traci Williams
-----Original Message-----
From: Brent L Jones <brent -dot- jones -at- jadesolutions -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wednesday, February 09, 2000 1:35 PM
Subject: RE: Translation Issues

|I asked this question on TECHWR-L recently, and Andres Heuberger was kind
|enough to send me (and post to TECHWR-L) the following excerpt from the
|Multilingual Compliance News. So I've taken the liberty of reposting it.
|Do any of the following ring true?
|* Documentation tends to be repetitive. We wish we could
|store terms and sentences as they are translated and then re-
|use them later in the documentation.
|* Applications are updated regularly. Why can't we identify
|changed sections and translate only those?
|* Translation takes too long. Wouldn't it be nice to have
|multiple translators work on one project simultaneously
|without risking inconsistent terminology?
|If you find yourself saying "yes, yes, yes", translation
|memory technology may be able to help. But there are many
|issues you need to be aware of before you get started:
|Several companies offer competing technologies. The most
|common Windows-based products include:
|* Déjà Vu from Atril Software (
|* Translator's Workbench from Trados is arguably the most
|widely used tool, particularly following Microsoft's
|investment in Trados (
|* STAR TRANSIT is another favorite (
|How do you decide between these different products? Much
|depends on personal preference, required functionality,
|budget considerations, language needs, and compatibility with
|systems used by vendors and overseas offices.
|For instance, Swedish company Kommunicera AB is a long-time
|user of Trados Workbench. For President Johan Læstadius,
|"Translator's Workbench from Trados is the most readily available
|translation software package I've tried. As long as you're an
|experienced Word user, you should be pretty much up and
|running in a day or so... However, the old saying about the
|training in the end costing as much per person as the program
|still holds. Therefore it's a very worthwhile investment to
|pay somebody who's been at it for a while to show you the
|more intricate details."
|Translation memory (TM) applications are computer-aided
|translation tools that use database and code-protection
|features to simplify the translation process. They are
|designed to improve the quality and efficiency of the human
|translation process, not to replace it.
|The systems basically consist of a database in which each
|source sentence of a translation is stored together with the
|target sentence (this is called a translation memory "unit").
|Any new source sentences will be searched for in the database
|and a match value is calculated.
|When the match value is 100%, the translation of the
|source sentence from the database is inserted into the text
|being translated. If the match value is below 100% and above
|a certain user-definable percentage (i.e., "fuzzy match"),
|the old translation will be inserted as a translation
|proposal for the translator to review and edit. Sentences
|with match values below that margin have to be translated
|from scratch. New and changed translation proposals will then
|be stored in the database for future use.
|Depending on the types of document, the consistency of the
|source-language writing, and the software applications used,
|TM tools can improve productivity levels anywhere from 10%
|to 50%.
|Companies implementing a TM solution typically do so with an
|eye toward accomplishing one of three objectives:
|* improving consistency
|* minimizing turnaround time
|* reducing translation cost
|Of the three objectives, the first--improving consistency--is
|most readily obtainable. Reductions in turnaround times and
|translation costs require careful analysis and planning; TM
|technology is not a silver bullet.
|TM tools are not appropriate for all operations. Even in
|ideal applications, significant hurdles obstruct the way to
|reducing turnaround time and/or translation costs:
|1. Process
|TM tools do not easily fit into existing translation or
|localization processes. To take advantage of TM technology,
|translation processes must be redesigned, from the ground up.
|One example of this is the issue of in-country reviews. Many
|companies require translation sign-offs by local staff. Does
|this mean that the entire text needs to be approved? If yes,
|this deprives the translation manager of a significant
|opportunity for cycle-time reduction. If no (i.e., only the
|new or changed text needs to be approved), a process must be
|designed so that the client, translation vendor, and reviewer
|can identify, exchange, and sign-off on text segments without
|2. Customization required
|Despite what you hear from tool vendors, few people are able
|to effectively use any of the translation-memory applications
|straight out of the box. Some of the programs use non-
|standard menus and dialog boxes. All of them will require the
|user to learn new terms and concepts. And none of the filters
|to desktop-publishing applications such as FrameMaker or
|QuarkXPress work without significant adaptation.
|As Kommunicera's Læstadius points out, plan on buying
|sufficient training and customization support.
|3. Significant investment required
|The price of the software typically runs from $1,000 to
|$2,500 per user. Your start-up costs will also include the
|price of importing your past translations into the TM
|database (this processes is called "alignment"), the training
|as mentioned above, plus any add-on products such as DTP
|filters, terminology tools, etc.).
|On-going maintenance does not come cheap either. Plan on
|upgrading each user to a Windows PC with a high-end CPU, lots
|of memory, and a fast network card. TM databases also require
|significant hard disk space. Each user, and--in the case of
|centrally managed TMs--the server, will require additional
|gigabytes for TM storage.
|4. Protect your TM investment
|Most of the benefits from your TM investment will be enjoyed
|over the long haul. You must take proactive steps to protect
|this investment:
|* Develop a strategy for maintaining the TM databases, either
|at your site or at the translation vendor's site. Issues like
|frequency of updates, regular distribution of TMs, as well as
|backup and archiving need to be considered.
|* Who owns the translation memory? The agreement between you
|and your vendor needs to clearly stipulate this.
|* How confidential is your TM? Some translation vendors and
|individual linguists re-use (or even share) databases.
|Depending on the confidentiality of your translation
|projects, state your expectations as part of a contract or
|nondisclosure agreement.
|* Be sure that your TM system supports the new OpenTag format
|for exchanging TM data between competing systems. Without
|this support, it could be difficult and expensive to switch
|translation vendors. (Visit for more
|For every company that successfully employs translation-
|memory technology, there is one for whom the experiment
|has ended in disappointment and lost opportunities.
|To make translation memory work, be sure to:
|* carefully review and, where necessary, redesign your
|translation processes;
|* perform a detailed Return on Investment analysis, taking
|into account "hidden costs";
|* involve all affected parties, including IS, your
|translation vendor, and in-country affiliates;
|* develop a long-term strategy for maintaining, protecting,
|and leveraging your TM assets.
|As with many new technologies, translation memory offers the
|opportunity for significant time and money savings. Just be
|sure not to rush into it blindly.
|--- Excerpt from Multilingual Compliance News,
|Brent Jones, Documentation Manager
|bjones -at- JadeSolutions -dot- com
|JADE Solutions
|Office: 303 448 1019 x 40
|FAX: 303 449 1548
|Sponsored by Weisner Associates Inc., Online Information Services
|Training & consulting for RoboHELP, Dreamweaver, HTML, and HTML-Based Help.
|More info at or mailto:training -at- weisner -dot- com -dot-
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