Choice of CAT tool: the supplier's prerogative
Thread poster: Jason Willis-Lee

Jason Willis-Lee  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:33
Spanish to English
+ ...
Apr 4, 2006

Hi all

I´m not sure this is the right place for this issue but the word independent caught my eye as being related to this post.

My post is whether clients/agencies should be allowed to bully suppliers into using a particular CAT tool over another. The agency tool of choice seems to be Trados and there is an obsession of controlling outsourced work to the extreme. I personally prefer DejaVU which is the tool I have invested in, have training in as well as the most experience.

There seem to be an issue of non standard CAT tools within the industry. i.e. problems of compatability between Trados, DVI etc. etc. I have started to reject projects in Trados because of the extra time involved and because I work faster with DejaVu. Since I am paid by the word, the crudest form of quantifying the work, my time is of the essence and I prefer to optimise my work method as I see fit.

Any thoughts or other experiences would be very much appreciated.

Jason
Spain


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:33
English to German
+ ...
Preference vs. control Apr 4, 2006

Hi Jason,
You're raising a valid point.


My post is whether clients/agencies should be allowed to bully suppliers into using a particular CAT tool over another.

Of course not. That said, they are free to set requirements for the work they accept. The perception of outsourcers thus being able to force translators to comply with certain requirements (CAT tools being just one of the aspects) would appear to be related to the inability of many freelancers to say 'no'.

Personally, I prefer working with freelancers using Trados, but that doesn't mean I don't accept work from those who don't - the prices I pay to non-Trados users are somewhat lower, reflecting the additional expenditure for alignments etc.

(Conceptionally, this is the same analysis as your connection between per-word price and income over time, of course.)

Best regards,
Ralf


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:33
French to English
An analogy Apr 4, 2006

Customer: "Hello, Aardvark Pumbing?"
Plumber: "Yup, how can I help?"
C:"I'd like you fix a leak please"
P:"OK, my charges are..."
C:"Hang on, I'll tell YOU how much I'm paying"
P:"um...."
C:"And I've got some spanners I want you to use"
P:"um..."
C:"But you better bring some spare stuff just in case"
P:"er..."
C:"Yeah, and anything extra you use, I'll have that off you when you're done, thanks very much."
P:[hangs up]

A slight exaggeration, perhaps, but sometimes that's what it feels like.

More reasonably, perhaps, it's a question of considering what service you're offering and to what market. You may consider you're offering translation "pure and simple" (as it were), and that as such it's up to you how you do it - "organically", or using CAT tools, or having an infinite room of monkeys typing infinite texts, one of which is bound to fit .

Or you may consider you're offering a more specific service of translation under client-specified conditions (including handing over TM at the end).

The choice is yours to make. The tricky point (and I do tend to agree with you to a point) is that more and more clients want translators to offer services under conditions that they (the clients) specify. This is the client's prerogative, of course, and as long as there are translators willing to accept it, they'll carry on doing it.

PS: There has to be a reasonableness on both sides, of course. You wouldn't want Ardvark plumbers insisting that they came round at 3 a.m. either....

[Edited at 2006-04-04 11:45]


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Peter Bouillon  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:33
French to German
+ ...
Translation plumbing Apr 4, 2006

Charlie Bavington wrote:
Customer: "Hello, Aardvark Plumbing?" […]
C:"Yeah, and anything extra you use, I'll have that off you when you're done, thanks very much."
P:[hangs up]


If only they would (hang up, that is). In reality, the conversation would go more like that:

C: You wouldn't mind using my chewing gum for mending that leak?
P: Chewing gum?! (Smiling), Oh YES, Mr. Customer, I'd just love that, although it will take me some longer…
C: I'll pay you in Elbonian Schlomwels.
P: That's quite all right, Mr. Customer; I'll pay the conversion rate… Would you also like me to pay for the bank transfer charges out of my own pocket?
C: Indeed I do, Mr. Plumber. That's the way it is usually done, isn't it? I'll pay 223 Schlomwels per hour, and you'll pay any charges whatsoever.
P: I'd be pleased to do so, Mr. Customer. I quite understand that it isn't your fault that the conversion rate is so low … (sotto voce) Well, overall that makes this less than half of ... (aloud) - Right, right, Mr. Customer, everything is quite quite splendid. When can I start?

P.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 11:33
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Demand, yes... bully, no. Apr 4, 2006

Jason Willis-Lee wrote:
My post is whether clients/agencies should be allowed to bully suppliers into using a particular CAT tool over another.


Is a client bullying you? Then cease your business relationship with that client.

You are not being "bullied" into use the client's CAT tool of choice. The client is merely demanding that you use his tool. As long as the client is honest about his demands, I can't see the problem here.

That said, some clients are unaware that CAT Tool X is not the be-all and end-all and that other tools can perform just as good or better. Such clients need to be educated, or ditched.


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Jabberwock  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 11:33
Member (2004)
English to Polish
Maybe in the future... Apr 4, 2006

In theory, you are right. There should be no difference what tool I use, as long as they are compatible.

But they are not. Therefore, it does make sense that the agencies prefer the format that is the most effective in their workflow.

If you received a bad photocopy of a fax transmission, would you ask if they have the Word file around? Even though it is the same text? Of course you would, as nobody likes to do things which should not be done in the first place, like retyping faxes. Or mending CAT incompatibilites.

I do hope that some day the content (text) will be so safely separated from the container (file), that it really does not matter how you translate it. Maybe when the XLIFF standard gets a wider recognition...


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:33
German to English
+ ...
Choice of CAT tool: the supplier's prerogative Apr 4, 2006

Jabberwock wrote:

In theory, you are right. There should be no difference what tool I use, as long as they are compatible.

But they are not.


Modern CAT tools are largely compatible. Most if not all the major tools support the TMX standard, for example. It's true that minor compatibility issues remain. They probably always will: it only takes one translator who merges two sentences into one, in order to provide a better rendering, to make a segment and the memory file in which it is contained "incompatible" at some point in the future with a procedure which relies on the segment being automatically regurgitatable. The problem in this particular case is neither the translator, nor the tool, but the notion that snippets of previous translations can be recycled ad infinitum with virtually no human intervention.

What I would be interested in knowing is why this obsession with compatibility is only applied to the tools and is not extended to the content of the texts. The bean-counters' determination to "leverage" existing content to the full means that bits and pieces of text are merged which are not compatible with each other in style, not to mention quality. Where's the "compatibility" then?

Marc


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Peter Bouillon  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:33
French to German
+ ...
But it is… Apr 4, 2006

MarcPrior wrote:
What I would be interested in knowing is why this obsession with compatibility is only applied to the tools and is not extended to the content of the texts.


But it is indeed extended to the text content! This is exactly the reasoning behind instructing translators not to touch the 100% matches!

The bean-counters' determination to “leverage” existing content to the full means that bits and pieces of text are merged which are not compatible with each other in style, not to mention quality.


The style issue is quickly solved. All you have to do is look the other way so that you don't notice. After all, the client is bound not to speak the target language well, so that they won't notice either.

This is tongue in cheek, of course. To put it in another way, taste is dependent on the point of view. Some just dont have it and don't notice it either. This is true in clothes fashion as well as in translations.

P.

[Edited at 2006-04-04 17:27]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 11:33
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Something to be said for using same tools Apr 4, 2006

MarcPrior wrote:
Modern CAT tools are largely compatible. Most if not all the major tools support the TMX standard, for example.


This may be true, but document format is but one aspect of compatibility in a translation project management system. For a translator to use a different tool than the one preferred by the client, the translator must be fairly confident that he knows what the project manager's document processing procedure is and that his translation will slot seamlessly into it.

This is especially true where the translator is provided with an exported file, which he is to translate, and which will be imported back into the document process flow at some later stage.

The two CAT tools may use the same translatoin memory format (TMX), but if the translator's CAT tool can't handle the client's exported source document file, then the client is forced to adjust his document flow procedure to include an ad hoc process to accommodate every translator and his particular tool.

Take OmegaT, for example. It can handle pretranslated Trados uncleaned files beautifully, as long as the uncleaned file contains only copysource pretranslated segments (correct me if I'm wrong). As soon as the client's procedure includes doing pretranslation with non-100% matches, the translator using OmegaT will be in trouble... he may still be able to do the translation in OmegaT, but the match percentages in the TU markup will not be automatically updated, and even if the translator does it manually, the match values will only be an approximation of those that Trados would have calculated.


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Riccardo Schiaffino  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:33
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
Extra time Apr 4, 2006

Jason Willis-Lee wrote:

My post is whether clients/agencies should be allowed to bully suppliers into using a particular CAT tool over another
have started to reject projects in Trados because of the extra time involved and because I work faster with DejaVu.

[/quote]

Jason:

Why bullying? If I, as an agency, specify "translation of x, output to be provided as bilingual Trados files", that is what I expect to receive: if you don't like it, don't accept the job, but I, as the customer have the right to specify what I'm buying.


Since I am paid by the word,
y time is of the essence and I prefer to optimise my work method as I see fit.
[/quote]

If I pay for a bilingual Trados file and you send me something different from what I purchased, I have to do the necessary conversion work: I also prefer to optimize my work method as I see fit - by getting rid of unecessary steps (like file conversions because a translator did not "see fit" to use the method I specified).





[Edited at 2006-04-09 18:30]


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