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Is Trados a must? Is Mac no good for translators?
Thread poster: Amy Duncan
Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 08:23
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Apr 17, 2008

I received the following e-mail (edited so that it won't be identifiable) from a translation company in South America, and I want to get some opinions about how accurate you think this person's assessment is:

I can tell you that 99% of the all volume we process here (around 11M words/year) are done in Trados.
Professionally I have to say that Mac is not an option for a professional translator nowadays. If you do intend to have translation volumes I do recommend you to setup a Windows workstation with Trados (Workbench and Multiterm) for a start. All other localization tools are used more occasionally. This not only to work with us, but we the whole professional translation market.

My feeling is that this is an exaggeration, since for the past five years or so, not one company or client that I have worked for has even mentioned Trados, or Mac for that matter. Since Word runs on Mac, I fail to see what the problem is.

Amy


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Line Maxwell  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:23
English to Danish
+ ...
I use Mac...but Apr 17, 2008

Hi,

I'm a devoted Mac-fan, but I have Windows installed inside my Mac running with the virtualization software Parallels, and run TRADOS that way. I would eventually love to be totally independent of Windows. My husband have been using Wordfast which runs with Office 2004 for Mac, but unfortunately not with the new version. You can get pretty far with Wordfast - you can import TMX-memories etc. I don't know though how good Wordfast is at running tagged files.

Hope this helps.

Kind regards,

Line Maxwell


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Jim Tucker  Identity Verified
United States
Hungarian to English
+ ...
Any Mac can run Windows programs transparently with virtualization software Apr 17, 2008

... as Line suggests. In addition to parallels, there is another such program that is reputed to be more efficient (I use it, but I have never tried Parallels): VMWare Fusion. You can set it to run Windows in its own...umm.. window, or even to run the Windows programs straight from the Mac desktop. These are excellent virtual machine drivers; you would never know you're not using a Windows machine.

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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 08:23
Portuguese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Not really what I'm looking for... Apr 17, 2008

I'm really not looking for a way to make my Mac run more like a PC or to start using Trados again. I used it for a number of years for a company that required it (the ONLY company I've ever worked for that required it) and I didn't like it. What I want to know is if the statements in this person's e-mail are accurate or not. If we want to be translators and use a Mac and not use Trados, are we doomed to have less and less work? This is what the writer is implying.

Amy


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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:23
Spanish to English
+ ...
In part it depends whether your clients supply you with TMs Apr 17, 2008

My main CAT tool is Trados 2007, which I run on my PC. But when I'm out and about with my Mac laptop, I sometimes do jobs in Wordfast under Word 2004. If the job doesn't involve a client TM, no one is any the wiser since a bilingual Word file from Wordfast is identical to one from Trados. I clean up the Wordfast doc in Trados when I get home, since I like having all my segments in Trados.

I'm very fond of Trados, but Wordfast has several advantages. Often it can work with segments that Trados inexplicably refuses to open. Also, Wordfast respects the original fonts (a feature that Trados really needs to work on!)

There are, however, disadvantages. As far as I can tell, Wordfast TMs don't preserve certain formatting that Trados does preserve (such as subscripts in mathematical and scientific texts). Importing Trados TMs into Wordfast in MacOS can get messy if the Trados segments had formatting not supported by Wordfast. I seem to recall even getting "garbage" if the import included such everyday characters as curly quotation marks.

In theory, the vast majority of the work I do could be done in MacOS using Wordfast. Few of my clients supply TMs (and often the ones they do supply are so awful as to be unusable). So the Trados-to-Wordfast import problems would not apply in most cases.

The main limitation would be in working with specialized file formats that Wordfast doesn't handle as well as Trados or SDLX.

[Edited at 2008-04-17 21:38]


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Jim Tucker  Identity Verified
United States
Hungarian to English
+ ...
not sure this is really your question Apr 17, 2008

Amy Duncan wrote:

I'm really not looking for a way to make my Mac run more like a PC or to start using Trados again. I used it for a number of years for a company that required it (the ONLY company I've ever worked for that required it) and I didn't like it. What I want to know is if the statements in this person's e-mail are accurate or not. If we want to be translators and use a Mac and not use Trados, are we doomed to have less and less work? This is what the writer is implying.

Amy


If I understand you correctly, the issue has nothing to do with Macs - you are asking whether one can get by without using Trados at all, regardless of what kind of machine you use.

There was a recent survey asking what %age of proz members used Trados or other CAT tools recently. You might have a gander at that.


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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 08:23
Portuguese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yes and no Apr 17, 2008

Jim Tucker wrote:
If I understand you correctly, the issue has nothing to do with Macs - you are asking whether one can get by without using Trados at all, regardless of what kind of machine you use.

There was a recent survey asking what %age of proz members used Trados or other CAT tools recently. You might have a gander at that.


Well, I'm really referring to what this person wrote in the e-mail. The implication is that you can't work unless you have Trados (or some other CAT tool), and ALSO that the Mac is not a viable machine for translations - If you check back to my original message, you'll see this is what this person wrote.

Soooo...my question is: can I still have a viable career as a translator if I use a Mac and no CAT tools?

BTW, I'd like to check out that survey...I'll see if I can find it. Thanks.

Amy


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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:23
Spanish to English
+ ...
Two issues: CAT and Mac Apr 17, 2008

If I stopped using CAT I'd probably lose about half my clients, but only half.

It also depends what type of work you do and what type of clients you have. Agencies sometimes require CAT tools; direct clients seldom do. Literary translations almost never require CAT, regardless of whether they're for an agency or a direct client.

Setting aside the CAT question: The objections to using a Mac are outdated. Many, many years ago, Office for Mac and Office for PC used different character sets. Any extended characters (e.g., Portuguese vowels with accent marks) turned into garbage characters when you moved the file from one platform to another. Microsoft solved that problem in the early or mid 1990s, so there's no legitimate objection to using a Mac for PT>EN translation of Word, Excel or PowerPoint files.

[Edited at 2008-04-17 23:52]


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Ken Cox  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:23
German to English
+ ...
yes and no Apr 18, 2008

To deal with your questions in turn, starting with whether you need to use a CAT tool: naturally you can do translation without a CAT tool, and you can even do it well (consider how people did translation before everyone had a personal computer...). But without a CAT tool, you're essentially using your computer as a typewriter (and of course for googling, sending and receiving e-mail, consulting your online dictionaries, etc. -- but those are support activities, no matter how necessary they may be).

Aside from the fact that some clients may expect or demand that you use a (particular) CAT tool, any CAT tool can and should make your work easier in the long run -- which means you can do more work and/or do it better, or have more time for other things. First of all, it structures the mechanics of the translation process, which helps avoid silly mistakes like skipping sentences. Second, it provides an archive of your previous translations (usually in the form of translation memories) that you can use actively in new jobs. The value of TMs is often exaggerated, but they can save considerable time and help maintain consistency with repeat jobs from the same client or repetitive text in a given document. A TM can also be a lifesaver if your translated file vanishes into a black hole or (as just happened to me this week) a good client discovers that they sent you the the wrong version of the document you just finished translating, and asks whether you can translate the new version instead, with the same deadline.

There are also other advantages, such as the ability to translate documents in formats produced by applications other than MS Office applications, which varies quite a bit among the different CAT tools (this is one of the main selling points of Trados).

Now as to whether you have to use Trados (as your only tool or as one of several tools): the simple answer is 'no, but'. There are other perfectly good tools available, and some translators like them much better than Trados for various reasons (ease of use, specific features, etc.). All else being equal, you're better off using a tool that you like instead of using one that someone else tells you to use and you don't like.

But: Trados is the the most widely known and (probably) most widely used CAT tool,
and you you may be excluding some potential clients if you don't use it. Naturally, after you have built up your business, the quality and reputation of your work will be more important than the tool(s) you use, at least with serious clients, but that takes a while.

One option is to download a demo version of Wordfast, which is quite similar to Trados in many ways -- and you may find that it's adequate for your work.
Of course, there are some clients who think that you aren't professional if you don't use Trados, but IMO this is similar to thinking that you're socially nowhere if your clothes don't have the right label.

In summary: you're free to choose which tools you want to use, but your choices may have consequences.

PS: My comments on the benefits of CAT tools assume that you work from soft-copy source material (e.g. Word files). If you work from hard copy, you either have scan and OCR the source text or in fact use your computer as a (fancy) typewriter.

PPS: In the case of your potential client who as much as said that you're nowhere if you don't use Trados, I'd be inclined to understand this to mean that they have designed their entire workflow around Trados and find it inconvenient (not to mention inconceivable) to work in any other manner.




[Edited at 2008-04-18 00:29]

[Edited at 2008-04-18 00:29]

[Edited at 2008-04-18 00:29]

[Edited at 2008-04-18 00:36]

[Edited at 2008-04-18 00:37]

[Edited at 2008-04-18 00:42]


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languagerescue
United States
Local time: 05:23
English to French
+ ...
Trados is not necessarily a must and Mac is good for translators. Apr 18, 2008

I agree with Steven's previous replies. Nowadays, Macs can easily run Trados with a virtual Windows software. I love VMWare fusion and I am addicted to Macs. I think whoever made the comments stated by Amy does not know what he is talking about... I think that Trados can be sometimes...cumbersome to use. I wish the Mac people could develop a friendlier to use software for us translators! Christine

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Anna Sylvia Villegas Carvallo
Mexico
Local time: 04:23
English to Spanish
You hold the reins Apr 18, 2008

Amy Duncan wrote:

Soooo...my question is: can I still have a viable career as a translator if I use a Mac and no CAT tools?


You sure can! Don't let them intimidate you.

I have a good client, an agency, who works only with SDLX, and despite of this I use Trados for all their translations. At the end, I do the conversion to their preferred software, and never have had a complaint from them. Other agencies require the use of Transit, Deja Vu, Wordfast, or else: no problem if you have it. But most clients don't mind at all if you use CAT tools. They just want a good translation.

Regarding CATs, they're a very helpful tool. I suggest you to try anyone that fits you (maybe Wordfast with your Mac?)

You hold the reins of your career. Keep trying.

[Edited at 2008-04-18 01:07]


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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:23
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
For me that statement would be accurate Apr 18, 2008

For the most part, my clients don't actually require me to use a CAT tool, although a few do provide me with Trados work. However, I don't use Trados, I use WordFast, which is compatible enough to do the job. I read recently that the new Word version for Mac has phased out Visual Basic, which means that WordFast will no longer work on a Mac. I am not technically well-versed enough to verify this information, but that's what I read. See a ProZ discussion:
http://deu.proz.com/forum/wordfast_support/99512-word_2008_mac_and_wordfast.html

So, I will not be using a Mac anytime soon. Although my customers don't generally require it, I would be shooting myself in the foot by not using my favorite CAT (WordFast) because it's extremely helpful for the sake of consistency, speed, etc.

[Edited at 2008-04-18 00:41]

[Edited at 2008-04-18 00:43]


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Elizabeth Adams  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:23
Member (2002)
Russian to English
+ ...
I used a Mac for years... Apr 18, 2008

...and only gave it up when my son got oatmeal in the dvd drive.

I've been at this ten years without any CAT software, but I may try out wordfast to use for one particular client (note: this is my idea, not theirs) with a high volume of very similar files.

But honestly, I've got more work than I can handle and I do all of it in MS Word, so I can't see why a Mac would be a problem. One nice thing I miss about the mac is how you can color code your file icons - for example, red is for current files, orange is for files that need proofing, blue for stuff I've already delivered, etc. Very handy.


Elizabeth


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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 08:23
Portuguese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks, Elizabeth Apr 18, 2008

Elizabeth Adams wrote:

...and only gave it up when my son got oatmeal in the dvd drive.


Haha! That must have been AWFUL, but it sure sounds funny now!

But honestly, I've got more work than I can handle and I do all of it in MS Word, so I can't see why a Mac would be a problem. One nice thing I miss about the mac is how you can color code your file icons - for example, red is for current files, orange is for files that need proofing, blue for stuff I've already delivered, etc. Very handy.


I appreciate all the effort the other answerers put in to explaining all this complicated stuff about CAT tools and which one I might get, etc., but honestly I have ZERO interest in getting a CAT tool again unless I'm forced to. Most of the work I do has very few repetitions (I do a lot of real estate, tourism, marketing, etc.) and I am extremely happy with my Mac after suffering for years with PC problems. Really I started this thread just to find out if the person who wrote that e-mail was full of crap or not!


Amy


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Samuel Caezar Porcalla
Philippines
Local time: 18:23
English to Tagalog
+ ...
mac in the hat! Apr 18, 2008

i'm a mac user since i started freelancing.

what i have as a cat tool is wordfast and it works fine with me even if the client requires a trados program. i simply tell them that as long as they give me a compatible TM there won't be any problem.

actually, i'm looking forward to having a trados for mac or any other cat software that is native to the mac.


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