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CAT tools and productivity
Thread poster: Rebecca Lyne

Rebecca Lyne
France
French to English
+ ...
Oct 12, 2008

Can anyone discuss the weekly improvements they have experienced in using a full CAT tool license?

I use MemoQ now, but only the free version. In terms of actual productivity, do your weekly source word translation counts really jump up or do they remain the same when using a full license of any CAT tool?

I have been under the assumption that 15,000 source words per week is about average for most translators. Will this improve or can this greatly improve with a full license?

Thanks!

Rebecca


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Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
Mexico
English to German
+ ...
Jump up Oct 12, 2008

rebeccalyne wrote:
do your weekly source word translation counts really jump up or do they remain the same when using a full license of any CAT tool?

I think your speed will jump up, because you will have to earn extra money to pay for the subsequent licences...



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Maureen Wilkins  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:36
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Speed and productivity Oct 12, 2008

Hi Rebecca
I've been using Trados for just over a year now. I usually estimate an output of about 3,000 words per day. Using Trados I can probably achieve 4,000 or even 5,000 words per day on texts where there is a lot of repetition or the material is very similar to something I have already done.

Then, on the other side, any agencies which supply memories and require me to use Trados have a lower rate for 100% matches and fuzzy matches. So you gain some and lose some. I think there is hardly any gain if you translate lots of different types of material, or you work on marketing or other material, where you need to spend a lot of time revising the target language very carefully.

Another factor to bear in mind is that it takes some time to be competent with a CAT tool - I find out things about Trados every single day. Sometimes, I have lost time with the technical issues.

These are just some of my experiences - but overall my view is positive - I think it is a long-term productivity investment.

Best Wishes
Maureen


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clairemf
France
Local time: 20:36
English to French
Time-consuming Oct 12, 2008

Hello,
A very good question indeed... I've been working with Trados for 10 years and I'm still not sure!
When you have a TM and a repetitive text, I think you can really work much quicker (what a pleasure when the CAT translates by itself!). But the time gained this way is then spent working out technical problems between the TM and the source file, correcting errors, reviewing each segment at a time, etc. which is quite time-consuming. These tasks are not needed when you don't use any CAT tool.
So, in the end, I really don't know!
In my view, consistency might be a bigger benefit than productivity.
Have I been of any help?
So long,
Claire


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:36
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other approaches Oct 12, 2008

rebeccalyne wrote:

Can anyone discuss the weekly improvements they have experienced in using a full CAT tool license?

I use MemoQ now, but only the free version. In terms of actual productivity, do your weekly source word translation counts really jump up or do they remain the same when using a full license of any CAT tool?

I have been under the assumption that 15,000 source words per week is about average for most translators. Will this improve or can this greatly improve with a full license?

Thanks!

Rebecca


I've been using Trados for years, but becuase I don't do very repetitive texts, it doesn't generally increase the actual number of words I do a week.

What has really helped increase words per day/week has been voice recognition software (I use Dragon). Just recently I drafted (to a good level) about 5000 words in a day, I could probably have done even more, but I wasn't time-pushed. The text was well written and wasn't very technical.

15000 with/without repetitions and with/without CAT?

I did 15000 a week recently for 2 weeks, and it was working flat out, with all other tasks/routines set aside (housework, admin, my personal life) and no weekends or hardly any free time. I used Trados but the texts weren't repetitive. I couldn't physically or mentally maintain that rhythm for more than about 2 or 3 weeks. 10000 words/week is more like a normal rhythm.

[Edited at 2008-10-12 17:26]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 20:36
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Wordfast Oct 12, 2008

rebeccalyne wrote:
Can anyone discuss the weekly improvements they have experienced in using a full CAT tool license?


The only CAT tool I've purchased is Wordfast (oh, and Swordfish, but I use it as an auxiliary tool only). The only benefit of the full licence over the demo licence is the size of the TM. I have had no improvement in output after buying the full licence, although having the full licence enabled me to do large projects that I would otherwise not have been able to do.

I suspect the answers you get would depend on the CAT tool itself. Some tools' demo versions have most of the features anyway; others may be severely crippled.


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Ryan Ginstrom
Local time: 04:36
Japanese to English
CAT tools improve productivity, but avoid unrealistic expectations Oct 13, 2008

CAT tools can definitely improve productivity. I have had jobs where translation memory vastly improved productivity. But these are for very repetitive texts.

For non-repetitive texts, the main benefits of TM are better consistency from terminology and concordance features, and avoiding missed phrases and sentences (because you're generally overwriting the source). But in my experience, you can't expect significantly higher productivity for such texts.

It can save you quite a bit of time after you've built up a sizable glossary, and don't have to look up those pesky terms any more. I translate from Japanese to English, where we have to "translate" company names and the like. Having a database of company names that pops up the translation immediately saves me a lot of googling.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 20:36
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Expect improvements in quality and consistency but not quantity Oct 13, 2008

About 15000 words a week Lia Fail wrote:

I couldn't physically or mentally maintain that rhythm for more than about 2 or 3 weeks. 10000 words/week is more like a normal rhythm.


Quite agree!
It does depend which language you are counting, though - there can be a 20-25% difference between my source languages, Danish, Swedish and Norwegian, and my target, which is English.

I reckon an absolute maximum of 2000 words a day (source count), but it is hard work to keep it up if I am interrupted. That produces some 2200 English words, but not your 15000 per week.

And of course, words are not just words...
I use Trados and have got to like the concordance and Multiterm. I register all sorts of things like weekdays and months, which saves typos replacing them. Names of countries and København/Copenhagen, Göteborg/Gothenburg and the like too.

I register things like staff titles of regular clients. Once I have found out whether the boss is called the President, Managing Director or CEO, I note it, and likewise all the other departments and managers. I have forgotten by the time they come round again, but hurray, they pop up from Multiterm on screen!

Translating ministries and government departments is an ongoing project for a Multiterm index. Other glossaries... are planned.

On the other hand, there is a fair amount of technical fiddling, extra proofing and the fact that you really only save time on 100% matches (if you are lucky). The fuzzy matches are useful, but by the time you have checked which 25% is different and changed it, you do not actually save time.

Trados is a useful tool, but you have to spend time and money learning to use it, and you will often work differently but not faster.
The same probably goes for most other CATs.



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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 19:36
Dutch to English
+ ...
Different strokes for different folks Oct 13, 2008

Lia Fail wrote:

10000 words/week is more like a normal rhythm.


I don't agree.

I am able to consistently produce at least 15,000 words a week, without having to work long hours or weekends to achieve that. I'm certainly not alone in this - many of the professional colleagues whose work I revise (and often admire), are able to do the same.

Others can't and are more comfortable translating around 2,000 words a day. No problem with that. Some naturally have a slower work rate than others. I can't say - incidentally - that there is any noticeable difference between the quality of the work produced by the two groups. All the translators deliver polished, well-researched translations. But maybe that's because I've whittled down the number of colleague's whose work I'm prepared to revise over the years.

Unless claims are obviously far-fetched, I see no purpose in questioning another professional translator's average word count or suggesting somehow that one's own rhythm is more "normal". Consistently producing 3,000 words a day (or 15,000 words a week), particularly in a specialist field, is certainly not unusual.

As Christine says, Trados (or another CAT tool) is certainly useful. It will save time, over time. However, it's not an short-term fix.

Voice recognition is undoubtedly a great boost to productivity, provided you spend the time training it.


[Edited at 2008-10-13 11:30]


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Boyan Brezinsky  Identity Verified
Bulgaria
Local time: 21:36
English to Bulgarian
+ ...
No easy answer Oct 13, 2008

rebeccalyne wrote:

Can anyone discuss the weekly improvements they have experienced in using a full CAT tool license?

I use MemoQ now, but only the free version. In terms of actual productivity, do your weekly source word translation counts really jump up or do they remain the same when using a full license of any CAT tool?

I have been under the assumption that 15,000 source words per week is about average for most translators. Will this improve or can this greatly improve with a full license?

Thanks!

Rebecca
There is no "one size fits all" answer here, because different software have different restrictions in the free versions as opposed to the full ones. As already mentioned, the only difference between the free Wordfast and the paid one is the size of the TM. The free version of MetaTexis does not limit the TM size, but limits the import options (one can not easily work with Excel and PowerPoint documents) and some lookup capabilities. I haven't used MemoQ, but I just looked at the comparison chart on their site. It seems that the important limitations of the free version are the limit of a single TM/TDB per project and the lack of TM/TDB editing.
So just think which restrictions do get in the way of your work and which you can live with. For example, in my last three or four projects I needed to use more than a single TM, because I was supplied a ready-made bundle (with TM and all), so I had to plug in the older TMs in order to reuse previous work. So if I used MemoQ, this single TM limitation would be important for me.
But maybe you have some completely different requirements, so just analyze your workflow and see where you think you could lose less time, if you had some software feature available.


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:36
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
CAT tools and productivity Oct 13, 2008

And remember - any perceived/calculated gains in productivity/time with a CAT tool due to repetitions must be leveraged against the ability to just copy and paste these with your standard word processor without a CAT tool. In other words, even if you do not have a CAT tool, that does not mean you would be re-translating previous material from scratch.


[Edited at 2008-10-13 13:04]


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FarkasAndras
Local time: 20:36
English to Hungarian
+ ...
not really Oct 13, 2008

Jeff Whittaker wrote:

And remember - any perceived/calculated gains in productivity/time with a CAT tool due to repetitions must be leveraged against the ability to just copy and paste these with your standard word processor without a CAT tool. In other words, even if you do not have a CAT tool, that does not mean you would be re-translating previous material from scratch.


[Edited at 2008-10-13 13:04]


If you can exactly remember whether you have translated a sentence three months ago and if so in what file it is on what page, I certainly admire you. But you would still have to dig up that file and find the sentence to be able to use it.
Realistically, I have to say copying and pasting is only going to happen within the same document or if whole paragraph/pages are repeated. MUCH more rarely and much more slowly than a CAT can do it. CATs also have concordance which, for me, is often at least as useful as actual segment hits.

I'm starting to use multiterm now and it seems to me that it can give you a very significant speed boost on its own even if the text itself is not repetitive at all. Terminology is always repetitive within a text, and the fewer times I have to type out "Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats" the better.

I'd say using a CAT tool and terminology management sw increases my output by about 10-20% on average. That's obviously a completely unscientific guesstimation.


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:36
Italian to English
+ ...
Google desktop Oct 13, 2008

FarkasAndras wrote:

If you can exactly remember whether you have translated a sentence three months ago and if so in what file it is on what page, I certainly admire you. But you would still have to dig up that file and find the sentence to be able to use it.
Realistically, I have to say copying and pasting is only going to happen within the same document or if whole paragraph/pages are repeated. MUCH more rarely and much more slowly than a CAT can do it.



I can't, but Google Desktop will find it for me in seconds with a few key words. I recently "translated" a 7000-word scanned PDF in about 3 hours using copy-and-paste from three similar files I'd translated in the past and found instantly with Desktop. (I don't use OCR for scanned PDFs, for various reasons.)

Having said that, I use WF wherever I can. I do believe it saves me time on highly repetitive files (of which I do a fair few), although I couldn't quantify it - I measure my productivity by my bottom line.

In any case, as others have mentioned there are also the benefits of consistency and never accidentally skipping a sentence to be considered.


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Textklick  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:36
German to English
+ ...
Depends what you are cooking every day Oct 13, 2008

Remember that productivity is but one of the pros and cons of CAT tools (read about others in the formus when you have a month to spare).

The most important consideration in that respect is how repetitive your work is.

I had a peer who I knew was doing tons of highly-repetitive work for one direct client.

A lot of 'fuzzy matches'.

It took a bit of bullying, but I persuaded her to download a trial version of a CAT and then had her round for the best part of a day to talk her though it.

Her productivity and revenue rose by 30% within a very short time and she went on to purchase the full version.

In the light of that I wish you a lot of repetitive work.

And I have not mentioned the cool interface, the consistency benefits, avoiding the danger of overwriting more than you should have etc. That's what you'll find in the forums.

Good luck

Chris


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:36
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
CAT tools and productivity Oct 13, 2008

FarkasAndras wrote:
If you can exactly remember whether you have translated a sentence three months ago and if so in what file it is on what page, I certainly admire you. But you would still have to dig up that file and find the sentence to be able to use it.


Actually, I can. If I receive a document, I can instantly remember that I have translated all or part of it before. I may not remember exactly how I translated it, but I remember that I did it. Since each client has a different file system, I can limit my search to the particular client and use Word's document search (provided of course that it has been less than one year since most clients request that you delete all copies of their files (including I would assume data stored in CAT memories) from your computer).




[Edited at 2008-10-13 17:30]


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