Jeromobot, the patron saint of the modern translator.

Jeromobot, the patron saint of the modern translator.

The Tool Kit is an online newsletter that comes to its subscribers’ mailboxes twice a month. In Translorial, we offer a quarterly digest of Jost’s most helpful tips from the past season.

Social investments
Some time back at a conference in London, a fellow translator shared with me and everyone else in earshot that she was done using Twitter as a professional tool. She claimed to have invested way too much effort and time with virtually no return. I’ve been thinking about this ever since, wondering how much I’ve benefited from my investments into social media; to make it short: I have benefited and continue to benefit. A lot. → continue reading



The Tool Kit is an online newsletter that comes to its subscribers’ mailboxes twice a month. In Translorial, we offer a quarterly digest of Jost’s most helpful tips from the past season.

tl_35-1_web_page20_image48 (376x199) (376x199)

The keyboard layout jungle
Multilingual computing has always faced the challenge of different input methods and keyboard layouts for different languages. This will continue to be a challenge, with new solutions cropping up here and there. For Windows users, Microsoft has been remarkably good at offering built-in keyboards for more than 120 languages and the ability to extend or compose your own language keyboard with the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator. → continue reading




WWDC MMXIIIAt WWDC  in June 2013, Apple finally broke the silence on their latest secrets: new operating systems for the Mac® and iDevices,  a long awaited radio service, a sneak peek at a futuristic Mac Pro® soon to be built in Texas, a preview of a Web-based iWork®, and updated MacBook Airs® with brand new Wi-Fi base stations to fit their new, faster specs. → continue reading



The Tool Kit is an online newsletter that comes to its subscribers’ mailboxes twice a month. In Translorial, we offer a quarterly digest of Jost’s most helpful tips from the past season. BY JOST ZETZSCHE © 2012 INTERNATIONAL WRITERS’ GROUP, COMPILED BY YVES AVÉROUS

Refactored memoQ
Rather than just looking at the new features of recent tools and versions of memoQ, I chatted with the developers to get some of the background story. I met with István and Gábor to hear them out about version 6. → continue reading


Cover of the December '09 issueAn ever increasing number of translation tools on the market means more choices and decisions for translators. Here, a review of STAR Transit NXT Version 4.0. BY MICHAEL SCHUBERT

The Swiss STAR Group was founded in 1984 as a technical editing and translation services company and now has 48 locations in 31 countries. STAR initially developed Transit as its in-house translation tool and began marketing it worldwide in 1991. The latest version, STAR Transit NXT, was released in November 2008.
The 150 MB download installed in under five minutes with no reboot required and also uninstalled quickly and cleanly. Comprehensive PDF user manuals are available in German or English (of sorts). The program user interface can be displayed in U.K. English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Czech, Swedish, Chinese or Japanese. → continue reading



The Tool Kit is an online newsletter that comes to its subscribers’ mailboxes twice a month. In Translorial, we offer a quarterly digest of Jost’s most helpful tips from the past season. BY JOST ZETZSCHE © 2009 INTERNATIONAL WRITERS’ GROUP, COMPILED BY YVES AVÉROUS

I always tend to use the software that I have just translated—after all, I know all the tricks once the translation is finished. Here are some things I recently learned that way about Google Chrome: My new favorite feature is a way to create stand-alone applications of web-based applications in Chrome. This means that you can run any website not within the tabbed browser- interface but in an interface that has nothing but the actual application. I really like this because it prevents you from accidentally closing an important application that you’re working in by closing your browser or browser tabs, and it lets you completely focus on your task. This is great for things like browser-based translation interfaces or many other important tasks for which it is not important to link continuously to other webpages. → continue reading




imacThere’s never been a better time to get a new Mac. Since last June, the whole line-up of consumer machines has been completely revamped. Choices include the cost-efficient MacBook or a super-duper quad-core iMac. I am particularly impressed with the pixel real estate made available on the new 27-inch iMac. With a finer resolution than previous pricey monitors, this new all-in-one desktop counts as many pixels in width as the 30-inch Cinema Display and only 160 less pixels in height than that flagship monitor that is still listed at $1,800 by itself. → continue reading


Translation Contract: A Standards-based Model Solution

Review by Stafford Hemmer

Translation Contract: A Standards-based Model Solution by Uwe Muegge, 100 pages, Authorhouse, 2005, ISBN: 1418416363

Translation Contract: A Standards-Based Model Solution is a toolkit in book form. Author Uwe Mr. Muegge dices the contractual relationship between translation buyer and vendor into a collection of checklists and work order forms. Using DIN 2345, ÖNORM D, and ASTM F15.48 standards, Mr. Muegge aims at four basic goals: improving communication between translation vendors and translation buyers, structuring and standardizing translation projects, improving efficiency, and improving quality. His intended audience includes “translation buyers and vendors who do not have comprehensive contractual agreements in place … and [those] who do not have much experience in the translation and/or localization field.” If this toolkit were presented in electronic form, it would be a hit. But in its present book form, Translation Contract misses its mark.

At skeptical first glance, publisher AuthorHouse should have considered condensing the booklet prior to its publication. “Section A: Master Data,” a full 21 of the booklet’s 100 pages, is a sparse presentation of basic contract elements that could have all fit into a one-page form. Indeed, the data fields presented in this section are obvious requisites to any valid and enforceable translation contract. But do neophyte freelancers or contract-deficient agencies really need four pages of prompting lest they forget to incorporate buyer and vendor contact info into their newly structured contracts?

The meat is in Sections B-H. Mr. Muegge guides readers on identifying and defining translation services, documents, textual and formal considerations, hardware and software used, additional agreements, and review procedures. Each section starts with a one-sentence “overview” of the objective; for example, “Section E: Formal Considerations. In this section, the contractual partners reach agreement on specific formal aspects of the translation project.” Here, Mr. Muegge succeeds in highlighting salient contract issues that users can take into consideration when structuring translation projects and contracts. The three-page “Appendix: Overview of Translation-Related Standards” adds value by filtering ISO standards, and listing references to Internet-based resources, thereby perhaps warranting the booklet’s $15.50 cover price. Still, the two-page set of definitions that preface the book, including such gems as, “target language: A target language is a natural language. Translation professionals use a target language to translate to,” could do with a little polish.

Mr. Muegge’s comprehensive approach is important for closing the loopholes found in various model contracts, such as those from ATA. Perhaps, then, the only thing wrong with this book is precisely that: it’s a book. His target audience certainly would have been better served if he delivered Translation Contract as a software product, because that data medium would enable the author to deliver the comprehensiveness he seeks to provide. In addition to presenting a useable boilerplate contract, the checklists and work order forms would then become more valuable to users because they could then be downloaded and modified. Mr. Muegge could also spend more time fleshing out the terminology, and delivering more information about the translation-related standards upon which the booklet is based, rather than just list them. If, in the future, Mr. Muegge decides to present Translation Contract in electronic format, he’ll be sure to hit the bull’s-eye.


PC Hardware Annoyances
How to Fix the Most Annoying Things About Your Computer Hardware

by Stephen J. Bigelow
Book review by Yves Avérous

When my cousin eventually decided to buy a PC after weeks of my twisting his arm to get a Mac, I told him: “I’m sorry, you are on your own. After years of troubleshooting my PCs I have not switched to the Mac only to plunge back into ‘dll hell’ again.”

Still, I try to be considerate towards my fellow PC users. Not all of you have a choice—especially if you have been enslaved by single-platform solutions or still believe, against all odds, that it’s more convenient to use a PC. And some of you cannot even be swayed by the fact that there aren’t any known viruses for the Mac operating system and that the system is immune to spyware! So what’s a good friend to do when facing so much resistance to common sense? Offer the next best thing to his own helping hand: PC Hardware Annoyances from O’Reilly, by longtime tech guru Stephen J. Bigelow.

As suggested by its title, PC Hardware Annoyances deals with the most common computer issues in the area of home office computing, with close to 600 questions overall (dare I say “plug and play?”). Drivers, connectors, cards, ports, settings, graphics (cards, monitors, etc.), sound (cards, microphone, speakers, even iPod,), hard drives, CD/DVD drives, networks, printers and scanners … how many times have you wished you could make sense (or better sense) out of those? With 17 years of experience talking about computers to the lay public, Bigelow knows how to make things light and simple. Of course, some areas, such as the BIOS, cannot always be dealt with elegantly: “… the Phoenix/Award BIOS version used with the Tyan Tomcat i7210 (S5112) Pentium 4 “Northwood” or “Prescott” motherboard provides a Quick Power On Self Test option in the Advanced BIOS Features menu …” Poetry not quite in motion. Fortunately, this comes with an illustration.

The question-and-answer approach — sort of a printed FAQ — is not my favorite format, but the publishers of this book have implemented it brilliantly, with easy-to-read “tip” and “warning” boxes, short definitions inserted strategically, and a plethora of screenshots and illustrations. It all conspires to make this smart and friendly book a valuable tool for the average to experienced Windows XP user. In the end, PC Hardware Annoyances can not only help you, but also help you help others.

Even though I tend to generally pick the big “bible” kind of manual when I choose a tech book—well-organized hierarchical opuses like the Missing Manual collection from O’Reilly, for example, for my critical apps like OS X or Office (Mac)—I must admit that PC Hardware Annoyances does a good job at corralling most of the support you might need in a manner that is logically organized and easily digestible.

Another virtue of this book is to remind me how fortunate I am now, as a Mac user, not to need this kind of extensive help anymore.

PC Hardware Annoyances: How to Fix the Most Annoying Things About Your Computer Hardware;
by Stephen J. Bigelow, 268 pages, O’Reilly Media, 2005, ISBN: 0596007159.


If This Be Treason

Translation and Its Dyscontents, A Memoir
by Gregory Rabassa

Review by Anne Milano Appel

Gregory Rabassa’s long-awaited memoir takes the form of an inquiry into the varieties of perfidy and treason implied in traduttore/traditore, with Rabassa himself as the (self-)accused as well as judge-and-jury. The hearing is replete with personal confessions, such as how Rabassa “backed into translation,” the fact that he himself has tried to “teach what is unteachable,” and his ultimate dissatisfaction with any translation he has done. Along the way he reprises unanswerables, such as the facelessness imposed on the translator (an invisibility that we have come to cherish as “ideal”), the treachery of words (can a stone ever be a ‘pierre’ or a ‘pierre’ a stone?), and the fact that translation is about value judgment and personal choice with the translator as just one of the many readers of the work. If there is one thing Rabassa declares with utter certainty it is that translation is an art, not a craft, “because you can teach a craft but you cannot teach an art.”

To those in translation circles, Gregory Rabassa needs no introduction. Now in his eighties, he is a giant who translated the masters of Latin American magic realism. Having translated over 50 works by such luminaries as Gabriel García Márquez, Julio Cortázar, and Mario Vargas Llosa, his accomplishments are uncontested.

The case studies that Rabassa includes are, by his own admission, a kind of “rap sheet” of his experiences with his authors, and will resonate with any translator. His testimony that his relationship with these writers was personal in some cases, while “regretfully only through their work” in others, implies a strong preference for author-translator interaction. I identified with this, as I did with his approach of following the text to see where it leads: an exercise of “controlled schizophrenia” requiring skills at “mutability.”

The verdict (also the title of the book’s final section) in the end is that there are no certain answers and “translation is but another version of the truth.” It is the “Not Proven” verdict of Scots law, consistent with the ambivalencies implicit in translation. And so Rabassa’s translator is left in limbo, where many of us live and work, neither guilty of treason nor free of doubts. Can Rabassa’s experiences be said to reflect a certain universality? Yes, judging by my own encounters with translation. I, too, relish interaction with my authors, and like Rabassa I never read a book in its entirety before translating it, preferring to follow the text to see where it leads. I admit to a certain degree of “controlled schizophrenia” and am not adverse to “mutability.” Am I ever guilty of treason? Am I ever truly satisfied with a translation? The verdict remains “Not Proven.”


If This Be Treason: Translation and Its Dyscontents, A Memoir; by Gregory Rabassa, 189 pages, New Directions Publishing Corporation, 2005, ISBN: 0811216195.   




At the Movies: Reviewing “The Interpreter”

By Tetu Hirai

On April 19th, NCTA members got a rare treat in the form of a special, by-invitation-only screening of Universal Pictures’ release of “The Interpreter,” starring Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn. In conjunction with the development of an article on the making of the movie—written by NCTA member Carolina Arrigoni-Shea and appearing in the May issue of Translorial—the studio generously offered tickets to NCTA members for showings in four cities: San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento, and Fresno.

In the film, Silvia Broome (played by Nicole Kidman), is an interpreter who works at the United Nations, and who overhears a plot to assassinate an African head of state. This plan is spoken in a rare dialect that very few people, including Silvia, understand. Silvia then becomes the target of the killers, and her world is changed as her own political background is slowly revealed to her FBI protectors.

For those of us in NCTA who are interpreters, we had the unique opportunity of assessing the movie from the point of view of our own profession. But both interpreter and translator colleagues had much to say, especially pertaining to the credibility of the interpretation done by Nicole Kidman’s character, and to the opportunity the movie offered in making the public more aware of the profession of interpretation.

Some attendees generally felt that Nicole Kidman did a credible job in depicting an interpreter. Sacramento attendee Michel Rousselin, a former United Nations interpreter, said, ‘’I felt that Kidman’s depiction of an interpreter was quite natural and very well done. She was speaking a bit slower at the beginning (as would be expected for a real interpreter) and then she spoke a bit faster as she heard more phrases.”

Others in attendance, including San Jose attendee Andrea Wells and San Francisco attendees Marianne Pripps and Anne Milano Appel, felt that the movie fell short in depicting the interpreter’s life—its demanding skills, fascinating subjects, and extreme stresses—in a way that truly represented the breadth and depth of the profession. Echoing the notion that the film was more of a suspense-thriller than a true examination of an interpreter’s life, San Francisco attendee Anthony Alioto noted that the movie “had little to do with the real activities of a U.N. interpreter.”

Overall, however, most attendees thought it was beneficial for the industry that interpretation was depicted on the big screen at all, and that the public became more aware of the profession. As attendee and Sacramento correspondent Tatyana Neronova said: “I believe that this movie allowed people to see how important our job is, and how careful and professional we should be so that we do a good job.”

We now hope that more opportunities lie ahead.