Back to basics How does it feel to translate naked?

Greater than 2 minutes

Sometimes life plays funny tricks, with coincidence and stuff. This week I had to prepare for a brainstorm session with a customer and last week I was asked to do a small translation job. Usually I grab the opportunity to experiment with new CATs or new features. But this time I decided to do it without any translation tool, just using pen and paper… or sort of: only MS-Word. What happened?

First, I must say I really enjoyed the freedom in my head and all the white on the screen. CATs can be so overwhelming, visually, I mean: boxes, colors, buttons, statuses… It also felt a bit strange to use a dictionary again – I imagine that if I would have to “dial” a number again on an old phone, I would feel the same.

But after half an hour I started to miss my tools and some simple things like the side-by-side display, the auto propagation, a term list…

I also had to restrain myself from not using the machine translate feature in Word. Maybe I have become more of a post-editor then a translator, or maybe I’m just lazy… I also realised that the MT in Word is the generic Microsoft Translator and for sure I would have prefered to send my Word doc to Fair Trade Translation (as they select the best engine for each sentence — I submit my source document to one service and I get the best output of 3 services!). But as I started to translate from scratch in Word, I only considered this when too much human work had already been done.

I also got a bit fed-up with all the extra formatting work I had to do. I suddenly realized I hardly waste time formatting when I use my CAT. I totally forgot about this “little thing”.

As I cannot use a TM in Word, I could not re-use any of my previous work. Not a big deal as this job was not the type of text I usually work on.  To be honest: if this job would have been close to what I did before, I would not have considered to do this job without my CAT.

Then I noticed that it was quite hard to check consistency myself and do some automated QA, and I wondered if I should not send my job to a colleague for review.

So… Even though at first I really liked the back to basics setup of working in Word, my next job I’ll use a good translation tool again. Nostalgia can’t compete with efficiency.

All in all, an interesting experiment that told me something important about myself…


(Also read: I should have increased my quote. I can only blame myself I didn’t…)

Gert Van Assche

About Gert Van Assche

At Datamundi we're paying a fair price to linguists and translators evaluating (label/score/tag) human translations and machine translations for large scale NLP research projects.

2 thoughts on “Back to basics How does it feel to translate naked?

  1. Will all the new tools and developments in the field of translation automation I can’t imagine ever going back to the old school way of working. But maybe it’s just me because I’m crazy about productivity and making the most out of the available technology. 🙂

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