Facing your technophobia. BY MERAV ROZENBLUM

I’ll start with a confession: I’ve never considered myself a techie. But over the last couple of years, I found myself working for major Silicon Valley corporations with a team of localizers who were what Jost Zetzsche calls “Jerombots”: “as passionate about languages as St. Jerome, with the added power of modern technology” (Niels Nielsen, Cat Tools Workshop, Translorial Vol. 33, No. 1, January 2011). What I learned from them was not only mastery of certain CAT tools and software, but also to face my own technophobia.

This (still) conscious effort to keep up with the world of translation memory (TM) technology, as well as the realization that the new SDL Trados Studio 2009 is a standalone program that looks pretty different from the older version that I have been using in the MS Windows environment, brought me, along with 15 other participants, to the beginner Trados workshop offered on Saturday, November 13, 2010 with master teacher and then NCTA president Tuomas Kostiainen, a Finnish translator (given the choice, wouldn’t you, too, prefer the examples in a Trados workshop to be in Finnish?).

TM Tools Basics

After fueling up on coffee and munchies sponsored by SDL and laid out by Rafaella Buschiazzo and setting up our laptops with the help of Tuomas and his dedicated assistants, Paula Dieli and Michael Shubert, we started with a brief overview of CAT tools, with terms such as translation units, and exact vs. fuzzy matches that I am sure sounded confusing at the time for many of us who have had only limited experience in TM tools. The savvier among us were quick to understand the many advantages of the new Trados Studio, such as how it handles a host of different formats by converting them to the SDLXLIFF format for translation. This translation can then be saved directly as an MS Word file, for instance, preserving the same format as the original document.

Another major advantage of Trados Studio in comparison to its earlier incarnations is the ability to use multiple TMs at the same time. The user can set some of the TMs for Lookup (“read-only”) and/or for Update (“write-only”), making sure, of course, that the client receives that project-specific updated TM upon submission of the translation. Tuomas dedicated some time during the first workshop and more during the second advanced workshop on December 4th, to managing these multiple TMs, and to importing those that each of us may have already created in our previous versions of Trados into our recently installed Trados Studio.

Directionality Issues

As we were test-driving Trados Studio, we had a chance to try out other cool features such as concordance searches on both source and target language, and auto-propagation: Trados automatically propagates a confirmed translation to other segments with identical source content. My own favorite new feature is Preview, which allows you to see the formatted translation, rather than the usual bilingual table, in a dedicated window (for which a second monitor comes in handy). This helps me foresee some directionality issues characteristic of my right-to-left language combination, for instance.  We were also walked through the process of translating files as a project, recommended for multi-file assignments. Tuomas also shared some valuable shortcuts to easily copy placeables and tags into our target-translation column. In the advanced workshop, we got an overview of the several quality assurance tools Trados Studio has for ensuring translation accuracy.

Term Recognition is a feature that allows the translator to use glossaries (s)he may have previously created or collected, and consult them during translation. These glossaries are converted, through a lengthy process that Tuomas laid out for us, from Excel into MultiTerm format, using another software component of the Trados Studio suite. The term recognition is automatic, allowing the translator to insert the suggested term into the translation. The translator may also add terms to his/her termbase during the translation. AutoSuggest and AutoText are yet another way to make translation more efficient, once the user defines them and masters their use.

As we were leaving the workshop we were reflecting on our future relationship with our clients: we were now excited fans of Trados Studio and felt ready to upgrade. Are our clients ready for Trados Studio? Tuomas’ parting suggestion was that even if the client requests a bilingual file that only previous versions of Trados can produce, we may work in Studio, import the file-specific TM into the older Trados, and quickly reproduce it there. A small investment of time that the advantages of Studio seem to justify. MR

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