I have been testing and using CAT tools for the past five years or so. I have divided them into two groups: those which are Microsoft Word ® add-ins and those which are standalone. I must say, I am partial toward standalone applications as I do not like being forced to use Word every time I work on a translation.
No matter how awkward some may be, I have found a use for all of the CAT tools I have tested. Due to its ease of use, MemoQ is definitely one of the better ones.
Developed in Hungary, MemoQ has the distinction of being pronounced two ways. You can say it the Hungarian way “memock” or you can say it the English way “memo-cue”. However, the pronunciation option is definitely the slightest of the user friendly configurations this application affords the translator.
I was a bit wary to “feed” MemoQ one of my translation projects as I did not know how long it was going to take me to understand its particular way of operating and I was unaware of how much “post-editing” I would have to do after exporting the project.
Much to my delight, I was greeted by a user friendly new project wizard that needed no manual reading at all. I quickly created a translation memory, termbase and imported the source document. This was unlike my experience with SDLX which, though highly regarded in the international translation world, takes some patience and trial and error in order to understand its system of colors and “painting” rows.
When I had my translation document open and running in MemoQ, I immediately saw a resemblance to Déjà Vu. The two applications are similar in two ways: the layout, that is a column for the source text and another for the target text as well as the codes involved.
For those who have translated with CAT tools that use codes (or tags as they are called in MemoQ), you know that they can determine whether you export your translation quickly and send it off to the client or spend hours re-formatting what should have already been identical to the source formatting.
István Lengyel, a MemoQ executive and one of the company’s founders says that tags are necessary because of the way Microsoft Office documents are created in the first place. Fortunately, I can attest that tags in MemoQ are kept down to a minimum; perhaps one-fifth of what you would normally expect in a Déjà Vu translation. One reason for this is that formatting codes such as underline, italics and boldface are not automatically carried over from source to target text; the translator must do this manually. The reason behind this, according to Lengyel, is that it is impossible to match up source and target formatting with phrases such as “el perro del niño” “the boy’s dog” because of the English language’s tendency to use the genitive ‘s.
When using MemoQ the first few times, I was constantly going to the menus to find certain things like the number of empty segments, as this is something I query from time to time during a translation to calculate how much work I have left.
Nonetheless, I started looking at the numbers at the bottom of the translation grid window (the same window I was translating in) and lo and behold, there was a percentage of how much I had translated, edited segments and empty segments! I have since become addicted to the percentage method versus SDLX’s wordcount because it is so satisfying to see the figure increase as I progress.
If you have trouble keeping all of your terminology in one place, you will like MemoQ’s terminology database. Though the developers themselves say that it is not meant to be a professional standalone application, I found it extremely easy to import and export terminology. The other aspect, which seems like a detail, I am particularly fond of is light blue highlighting of source terms that are already in the terminology database. This means that you are less likely to enter terms that already existed in the database and that your eyes do not have to roam all the way over to the available terms to be pasted.
Mr. Lengyel was gracious enough to walk me through the steps of using MemoQ’s server. He told me of cases where translation companies have paid up to 30,000 pounds for a server. No matter how well I do as a freelance translator, I think I would rather spend that kind of money on something else!
Fortunately, MemoQ’s server is in an affordable price range, and can be run from any PC connected to the Internet. You do not have to purchase any extra equipment, and it is quite easy to use. You can share a project with other translators using MemoQ and do quite a few things in connection to the project such as: publish and share translation memories and terminology databases, create a discussion forum and chat in real time. As you might imagine, sharing a project and working in groups, however far away is a real advantage in the world of translation where splitting up projects among translators can be a real challenge.
One of the great advantages to MemoQ is that is not yet complete. This means that, though it is an established product with everything the translator needs, there is room for improvement. In fact, version 2.1 will be released in April 2007. Some of its features are:
• Locking segments in the translation grid so that you do not accidentaly edit a completed segment.
• Context-sensitive translation memory: 101% matches based on context which cuts down review time.
• Global find and replace. Find and replace terms in all documents within a project.
• Manual termbase lookup. If MemoQ does not find the inflected form of a term, you are still able to search for it.
for more upcoming features.
If you are a first time CAT tool user, MemoQ is reasonably priced and reliable. If you own another CAT tool such as SDLX or Déjà Vu, a backup program is always handy. To download a free 90 day evaluation version, click here