What a relief to relinquish my PM duties and be a freelancer on MAATS Team Project 2 at the University of Leeds! But that is not to say that being a freelancer did not come hand in hand with its own issues and I was, of course, faced with problems from a very different perspective.
Before the project, our classes introduced us to SDL MultiTerm. I loved this software – the term base (TB) allows you to store many different fields of information: not just the translations of ST terms but also translations that are, “preferred” or even “forbidden”. As well as enhancing consistency, especially in huge projects involving many translators, there is the potential to formulate one MultiTerm TB for one project and send it out to freelancers working in a variety of language pairs. This must be a great time-saving functionality from a PM point of view.
Meanwhile, if there is a need to export the TB as an Excel file you can pick and choose the fields you wish to display. I imagine the ability to choose who changed/added items and when could be useful in a company situation.
I liked the Microsoft Word plug-in, which allows users to open a bilingual word document and add terms with just a couple of clicks on the mouse, although its uses are limited. Most importantly, though, MultiTerm is really pretty easy to use!
When we moved onto SDL Trados my expectations were high, having appreciated MultiTerm so much. What did I like about it?
- The automatic creation of external files – XLiffs – is a bonus… but only if you remember to click save in your project (and the way CAT tools seem to crash, users need to remember to do this frequently).
- The online tests available in the “translation zone” allow users to obtain “certifications” for different levels, using workbooks and samples (rather than waiting for a real commission and getting it wrong!).
- Quickplace allows users to copy tags/formatting quickly into the target column
- Blue brackets signal “recognised tokens” (items that do not need to be translated or can be automatically localised with the TM, such as numbers, variables, mark up tags, acronyms, alphanumeric strings. Trados can also automatically localise dates); red brackets flag up terms that have been found in the terminology database.
- I was initially a little upset that Trados did not have something similar to DVX3’s preview window but not only is formatting displayed in the target column, there is actually a preview window in an auto-hide box.
On the other hand, there were things I particularly did not like about SDL Trados:
- The need to save manually, as mentioned previously
- Packages of a certain number of words can only be made by joining files and not by splitting them.
- The very – er – obvious flagging up of tags. I initially thought this rather useful but it did not take me long to find the loud, purple tags a bit offensive to the eyes. There is an option to reduce these tags to just small arrows, yet they still retain something of their large and purple presence.
The Team Project… and my blunders
SDL Trados was the software we were to be using in the second Team Project. The PMs asked us to post-edit a translation run through Machine Translation, and it actually mostly required entirely re-writing/re-translating. To look on the bright side, I suppose it showed us what could happen in a real-life situation and taught us to argue with – sorry, gently educate a client or PM.
Unfortunately a large portion of the package sent to me was a bibliography and many of the segments were divided (because of the full stops) after initials and names. I was unable to merge the segments – perhaps this needed to be done by the PM before sending it out? Or perhaps I could have changed the file so the ST could be edited myself? In any case, it was more frustrating than it was a problem, but I would appreciate if readers could shed some light on this.
A warning to all to take care over moving files around: when I decided to work on an external review file from home, I mistakenly converted it to read only… meaning I had to manually import my changes into the SDL package – good job it wasn’t a bigger project!
In conclusion, I am erring towards DVX3 at the moment, although I would really like to make better use of MultiTerm. I would be really interested to hear your thoughts on the differences. I am especially interested in whether the usefulness different CAT tools depends on the type of translation.
On another note…
On Friday I will be attending the Journal of Specialised Translation’s symposium on Legal Translation and will be tweeting ( #jostranslegalxl8 ) throughout the event, as well as reporting on it afterwards – so keep an eye out for my next post, where you will be able to catch up on the key points made by translators who have worked in the field of legal translation for many years, who intend to show the importance of CPD, to give us an insight into what we need to become legal translators and to explain the importance role of translators, interpreters and sociolinguistics in justice systems.