Certificates - do we really need them?
Thread poster: Jabberwock

Jabberwock  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 21:14
Member (2004)
English to Polish
Jul 3, 2007

I did not want to abduct the original thread, but this topic is inspired by the discussion found here:

http://www.proz.com/topic/77036

and in particular:



As for the certification - this may appear now a money-making option, but it is promoted at the moment with quite high intensity, so the possibility it might be required is IMHO quite realistic. This may not come within the next two or three years, but who knows what is in five or ten years - customers might then want to have it.



That is why I oppose the idea so strongly - the possible future requirement for the certificate would be the result of heavy promotion and strong-arm tactics on the part of Trados and not of the merits of the certification program itself (which is not unlike how Trados got the market position it has now). If we dismiss the idea as ridiculous now, it won't happen. If we let this become a reality, then indeed one day we might be forced to shell out the certification fee every year or two.

I really do hope that the industry will go in exactly the opposite direction - that the outsourcers will be given more freedom in their choice of tools. After all, we only need to replace a text in one language with a text in another one... How we do it should be our business.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 16:14
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Trados marketing Jul 3, 2007

If one compares the price tags on Trados and WordFast - which supposedly do the same job - it becomes quite puzzling. So what's the big difference?

My guess is that the additional cost in Trados does not add to any user (viz. translator) benefits, but funds aggressive marketing. I have no idea on how much they pay to whom, but I often see jobs posted on Proz that go llike this:

Job: Translation XX>YY of a birth certificate, 1 page.
It's an ancient document, so it's handwritten, and will be faxed to you (or a scanned copy will be sent by e-mail).

Requirements: You MUST have Trados!!! If you don't, kindly get lost, and don't ever dare to bother us!


Apparently it would be safe to assume that linguistic skill is deemed irrelevant for such a job (OK, for a birth certificate it almost should be). However it seems like a desperate attempt to shift the priority from what a translator is capable of doing to what they own. I get the impression that Proz is supporting this effort by adding specific fields for something that could normally be in the body text of the ad.

Now and then I see people saying "I was a [language] teacher for X years. Now I have bought Trados and became a translator." This sounds so "magic" that it kinda prompts me to buy Trados and start offering translation services to a few languages I speak at "foreign tourist level". Is this what they want translation to be all about?

[Edited at 2007-07-03 12:45]


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Jerzy Czopik  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:14
Member (2003)
Polish to German
+ ...
On a side note... Jul 3, 2007

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

If one compares the price tags on Trados and WordFast - which supposedly do the same job - it becomes quite puzzling. So what's the big difference?...


They don't. Only if you stick to Word and formats, which are readable for Word, they do a similar job. But the recent SDL Trados 2007 with Synergy does a lot more than that.

Jerzy


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 16:14
English to Portuguese
+ ...
It does make sense, however partially Jul 3, 2007

Jerzy Czopik wrote:
José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
If one compares the price tags on Trados and WordFast - which supposedly do the same job - it becomes quite puzzling. So what's the big difference?...

They don't. Only if you stick to Word and formats, which are readable for Word, they do a similar job. But the recent SDL Trados 2007 with Synergy does a lot more than that.
Jerzy


Trados does make sense if the client/agency has a long, complex, multilingual project involving some non-Word software package, like InDesign, Quark, etc. and a whole team of translators. It's the same line of thought I use to advise people out of using Word for DTP.

However this is leading clients with simple jobs, where a fountain pen would suffice, to request Trados sine qua non. It's like flagging a taxicab and, upon noticing the car has a manual transmission, or it doesn't have power steering, or any other driver-related amenity (air conditioning is a proper requirement, depending on the weather), deciding to take the next one.

I see too many jobs around where even WordFast would be totally unnecessary (like the handwritten birth certificate), and yet the client demands Trados just because s/he sees too many other people doing it. This is the real issue.


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Jerzy Czopik  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:14
Member (2003)
Polish to German
+ ...
Slightly off topic here, sorry Jul 3, 2007

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

Jerzy Czopik wrote:
José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
If one compares the price tags on Trados and WordFast - which supposedly do the same job - it becomes quite puzzling. So what's the big difference?...

They don't. Only if you stick to Word and formats, which are readable for Word, they do a similar job. But the recent SDL Trados 2007 with Synergy does a lot more than that.
Jerzy


Trados does make sense if the client/agency has a long, complex, multilingual project involving some non-Word software package, like InDesign, Quark, etc. and a whole team of translators. It's the same line of thought I use to advise people out of using Word for DTP.

However this is leading clients with simple jobs, where a fountain pen would suffice, to request Trados sine qua non. It's like flagging a taxicab and, upon noticing the car has a manual transmission, or it doesn't have power steering, or any other driver-related amenity (air conditioning is a proper requirement, depending on the weather), deciding to take the next one.

I see too many jobs around where even WordFast would be totally unnecessary (like the handwritten birth certificate), and yet the client demands Trados just because s/he sees too many other people doing it. This is the real issue.


Well, not for me. And this not because I do so much love Trados, but simply because what I do is to nearly full extend Trados-compatible. So this is very often my choice to use this software, because it gives ME the advantages.
And this - where the advantages are - is the real issue here, and everywhere, where CAT is involved. As long people will see this that way, that the customer is the one who requires CAT and will fail to see their own advantage in using it, so long Trados (or CAT) will be an issue. When you recognise, that CAT brings advantages to you, which you may partially transfer to your customer, you have won. I say "partially", as this is my job to keep advantages for me and don't pass them in full to the customer. All those rebate schemes for Trados and company are nothing against the translator, when s/he knows how to use them. In fact it does not matter, how high/low my word or hourly rate is. What really counts is what I have at the end of a day or of a month. And this may be more with rebates and a quite decent word rate (what obvioulsy sells better) then without any rebates and a lower word price.

As for the main issue here, the certification - I do not think we certainly do need it. Not now. But do all the translation companies really need their ISO 9000 certification? I doubt it - but it sells. So it may be similar with Trados certification.
And also the ISO certification is not given forever, it must be renewed on regular basis. So I do not see big difference between it and Trados certification. What I would find justified were, if the recertification for the new version would only cover new features of the new version - hopefully this will be the case.

Jerzy


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Jabberwock  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 21:14
Member (2004)
English to Polish
TOPIC STARTER
The difference between "a" CAT and "the" CAT... Jul 3, 2007

Well, I think what José meant was not whether to use a CAT (although even that should be left to decide by the translator), but the somewhat unreasonable insistence of agencies to use that particular tool. Especially that it does not make much sense: if it is a simple Word job, any tool will do, if it is a complex specific-format project, it can (and should!) be converted by the agency to ttx, xml or similar format in-house. Then it can be translated with whatever the translator prefers. Either way, use of that specific software is not really required.

[Zmieniono 2007-07-03 14:11]


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Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:14
Dutch to English
+ ...
Agree with Jabberwock Jul 3, 2007

The beauty of Trados for me is that even when a client only sends ttx files I do not have to use TagEditor (my software, my choice) to do the translation but I can deliver ttx files back. I do not particularly like TagEditor because the spell checker sucks and the font size is always so small. I also find and replace a lot and in TagEditor this is also an issue.

I also believe that certification is a commercial ploy and does not have any added value. I should, though, add that I've been using Trados for 7 years now.

[Edited at 2007-07-03 14:20]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 16:14
English to Portuguese
+ ...
You got it! Jul 3, 2007

Jabberwock wrote:
Well, I think what José meant was not whether to use a CAT (although even that should be left to decide by the translator), but the somewhat unreasonable insistence of agencies to use that particular tool. Especially that it does not make much sense...


That's the real issue. Did translation agencies in the not-so-distant past demand that translators used a Parker or a Sheaffer fountain pen? Did they specifically demand a Remington Rand or Smith-Corona typewriter?

I read the original thread mentioned by Jabberwock, and it amazed me that EU standards actually demand certification in CAT tools.

CAT tools are mostly about two things: a) consistency - doing things exactly as they were done before or by team mates; b) reducing operating cost by automating what can be automated.

I see many examples of where CAT tools are a must. For the kind of translation I did in 1973-1979 - when all computers were manframes closeted in air-conditioned rooms - CAT tools would have made weeks of my work to be executed almost instantly.

Nowadays, for the kind of work I do (mostly diversified management training courseware), WordFast seldom finds something "dejà vu" in the text to help me. But there are certainly translators doing what I did in the good ol'days, with Trados on cruise control.

So there are translators and translators, as there are jobs and jobs. Some common sense should be used by the client to demand or refrain from demanding any specific CAT tool for a given job.

I know the thread is about Trados certification. The issue is to prevent the development of the idea that "a Trados-certified translator will do a better job in translating, even if there are absolutely no matches in 1,000 pages".

The "commercial" attempt resides in equating Trados certification to governmental or ATA-like certification. The former deals with the ability to operate a certain software; the latter deals with an endorsement of the ability to translate. To the less-informed ones, a certification will be a certification.


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Selcuk Akyuz  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 22:14
Member (2006)
English to Turkish
+ ...
Standards and certification Jul 3, 2007

Jerzy Czopik wrote:

As for the main issue here, the certification - I do not think we certainly do need it. Not now. But do all the translation companies really need their ISO 9000 certification? I doubt it - but it sells. So it may be similar with Trados certification.
And also the ISO certification is not given forever, it must be renewed on regular basis. So I do not see big difference between it and Trados certification.

Jerzy


I think standards and certification are related terms. Sorry but can anybody say Trados is the industry standard? What about all other CAT tools which can easily exchange data through TMX. A software should have backward compatibility with its previous versions. What about Trados?

Another question. Is trados certification a prerequisite for translation offices to get ISO 9000? Use of any CAT tools (in order to ensure terminological consistency) may be a prerequisite, but only those tools which have backward compatibility and can easily exchange data with other CAT tools.

------------------------------------

Another related forum posting
Trados Certification in Directory Search - is it required?
http://www.proz.com/topic/75774


[Edited at 2007-07-03 16:24]


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Maciek Drobka  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 21:14
Member (2006)
English to Polish
+ ...
Font size always small? Jul 3, 2007

Marijke wrote:

I do not particularly like TagEditor because the spell checker sucks and the font size is always so small. I also find and replace a lot and in TagEditor this is also an issue.



When the TE font size is too smal for me, I simply increase it -- the standard options go up to 500%. Wouldn't that be enough for you?

And I also find and replace quite a bit. To do that in TE, I simply remove document protection and... voila!

Maciek


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:14
Spanish to English
+ ...
translation competence? Jul 4, 2007

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:



I know the thread is about Trados certification. The issue is to prevent the development of the idea that "a Trados-certified translator will do a better job in translating, even if there are absolutely no matches in 1,000 pages".

The "commercial" attempt resides in equating Trados certification to governmental or ATA-like certification. The former deals with the ability to operate a certain software; the latter deals with an endorsement of the ability to translate. To the less-informed ones, a certification will be a certification.




Precisely what occurred to me: why would having Trados certification actually be evidence of translation competence? It's like producing evidence that one can use a computer, surely? An underlying skill, but not the core skill.


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:14
German to English
+ ...
Certificates - do we really need them? Jul 4, 2007

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

I read the original thread mentioned by Jabberwock, and it amazed me that EU standards actually demand certification in CAT tools.


'fraid not, José.

The standard originally referred to was ISO 12616. ISO 12616 is an ISO standard, not an "EU standard". It *might* be applied, voluntarily, by some customers in their procurement procedures, and those customers *might* include EU institutions, but that doesn't make it an "EU standard".

ISO 12616 doesn't "demand" anything. Application of the standard is voluntary.

I haven't read ISO 12616 (and I'd be interested to know how many people reading this possess a copy), but as I see it, there are two possibilities here.

It may simply be that ISO 12616 requires - for compliance with itself, that is, not in order to meet some statutory requirement - that as part of the QA procedure for the provision of translation services, evidence must be provided that the translator has completed some form of training in the CAT tool used. This is quite conceivable in a QA context. That training, though, need not necessarily involve formal certification.

It is also conceivable that this requirement does involve formal certification. That, though, is extremely unlikely. As far as I'm aware, SDL is not an official certification body, and "Trados certification" has no official status. So if some form of official certification of CAT tool competence is required by ISO 12616, I'd be interested to know just who is authorized to issue it.

Perhaps someone can shed more light on this EU certification business.

Marc


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 16:14
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Do we need certification? Jul 4, 2007

Marc P wrote:
'fraid not, José.
Application of the standard is voluntary.
Marc


There are two issues in this game: certification and standards.

I see any kind of certification as an expression of the society that someone was deemed able to do something. I call it "social responsibility". If a duly certified physician kills a patient, at least society had taken measures to ensure that this professional had the necessary training to prevent such unfortunate outcome as much as possible. The place where I am now was designed by and built under the supervision of certified civil engineers, so that society ensured they had the necessary knowledge to prevent the celing from falling on my head.

But what is the effect of a translator being certified? In countries where translators must be government-certified (e.g. Brazil, and I think Spain too) for their translations to be acceptable for legal purposes, these people are citizens in good standing that are liable for what they translated. In countries where anyone can translate for such purposes (e.g. USA) as long as their identity is certified by a notary public, they take an equal liability.

Then there is the certification by peers, such as ATA, or by educational institutions. But what does that mean? It means the individual has passed a test. However translation involves all kinds of human knowledge that may be expressed into words, not a specific field like those exemplified at the outset above.

Though I could make a brilliant translation of some corporate organizational development program, it's absolutely certain that I'd totally botch up a text while translating if it were about any medical procedure. I could even list names of colleagues I know personally that would render the opposite performance in these respective areas. So what difference would a certification as a translator make in my case? In theirs?

Okay, so it endorses the point that Trados certification should be required when the client will actually use this software for something in the whole process, but not when the translator gets hardcopy or a PDF file and has to deliver no more than a clean DOC or RTF.

Then there are the standards. I had contact with some (fortunately just a few) translation agencies that said that I MUST provide contact details for three references, otherwise they'd lose their compliance to the ISO XXXX standard. It is worth noting that some of these same agencies' NDAs forbid disclosing their identity as references to anyone in the world.

Very well, so I decided to give it a try. But I forewarned the three friendly clients that I was giving their e-mail addresses as references. It was a matter of minutes before they received:
a) a looong third-degree-like questionnaire in me;
b) an e-mail offering the agency's services, saying that no matter what I did for thm, they could do it faster, better, and cheaper.

If any "ISO-abiding" translation agency owner is reading this, FYI these clients phoned/e-mailed me immediately telling about it; the e-mailing ones even forwarded me what they got.

So I think that in both matters, the translator's (and every professional's) most basic tool should prevail: common sense!


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