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Will a CAT be helpful to me for a large academic book project?
Thread poster: sbdryh
sbdryh
United States
Local time: 08:05
Ancient Hebrew to English
+ ...
Dec 2, 2013

Greetings, all. First post here.

I'm in discussion with a potential client for a large project, a book of over 100,000 words in an academic field that is my specialty. And the client wants this translated in a month.

I realize from what I've read in various posts here that CATs are most helpful in technical work, where the language is very repetitive. This book is not in the sciences, but in the humanities. I've seen only sample pages, not the whole book. I expect there will be some repetition of words and phrases, but it sure won't be like a technical manual.

Given the large size, would a CAT help me get this project done faster? The client doesn't care if I use a CAT. The question is if it would benefit me.

And if so, can CATs handle Hebrew?

Thanks.

[Edited at 2013-12-02 02:51 GMT]


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Yan Yuliang  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 21:05
Member (2008)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Probably NOT Dec 2, 2013

The CAT stores your translated sentences into a database, and compares the current sentence you are translating with the database. If their similarities exceed a certain percentage (e.g. 70%), then it will show the translated sentence.

Now that you know how it works, you can surely know that it is not useful for book translation, where repetitions are often rare.


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Tony M  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:05
Member
French to English
+ ...
Probably NOT Dec 2, 2013

For this kind of work, I find that the glossary function is actually the most useful bit: the first time you encounter a word that you think is likely to recur and which is a bit long to type, you 'teach' the machine to recognize this word, and then next time it occurs, the system will propose you to use the translation you've taught it, which you can enter using a keyboard shortcut, thus saving a bit of typing (and potential errors!) — I think most CAT tools offer this sort of function, though the actual mechanism by which it is achieved varies between tools.

This is all very well, but 'teaching' the translation the first time takes a certain time to do, plus with various inflected forms etc., for some words at least the taught term may not be quite right, which can end up causing problems difficult to spot later.

Plus the overriding problem for me is that the advantage of using this 'glossary' function is outweighed by the fact that the CAT tool will break your text down into 'segments' — for example, that might be sentences. Now quite apart from the issues of needing to translate across sentence boundaries or re-arrange ideas / sentences, this whole process takes time, and unless whole sentences (segments) recur (rare enough), most of that time is wasted; plus the extra time spent sorting out problems later! IF ONLY one could have just the glossary function without the segmentation! Maybe some CAT tools do offer this, but I don't know about other tools.

The other problem with segmentation is that it can make your computer very slow, particularly as you get further and further into a long document. I thought I had quite a fast, powerful computer, which is indeed very speedy for most tasks; but on a 120-page document, it got unusably sluggish after about half way.

I find it is just as efficient to do a 'search and replace all' each time I come across a word likely to recur, and that I don't fancy typing each time. With practice, it doesn't take long, and overall, is quicker than using my CAT tool.

Also, as I work FR > EN, there are some words where the FR spelling is not a million miles from the EN spelling; so I leave those words as I go through on my first pass, then I do a quick spell check and the Word spell checker replaces all instances of the FR word for me. It's susprising how much typing this saves!

[Edited at 2013-12-02 09:45 GMT]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:05
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
CAT will help you be more consistent Dec 2, 2013

sbdryh wrote:
Given the large size, would a CAT help me get this project done faster? The client doesn't care if I use a CAT. The question is if it would benefit me.


I think it will make you faster, because it will help you to focus your attention on a single sentence at a time. But the fact that every sentence you translate is entered into the TM (a database) means that you would be able to see how you translated something previously much quicker. You might also be able to perform a word or phrase search on untranslated text to see whether an expression you encounter occurs elsewhere in the file, and if so, in what contexts?

I think most CAT tools should be able to handle Hebrew.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:05
Member (2008)
Italian to English
I'd say not. Dec 2, 2013

sbdryh wrote:

Greetings, all. First post here.

I'm in discussion with a potential client for a large project, a book of over 100,000 words in an academic field that is my specialty. And the client wants this translated in a month.

I realize from what I've read in various posts here that CATs are most helpful in technical work, where the language is very repetitive. This book is not in the sciences, but in the humanities. I've seen only sample pages, not the whole book. I expect there will be some repetition of words and phrases, but it sure won't be like a technical manual.

Given the large size, would a CAT help me get this project done faster? The client doesn't care if I use a CAT. The question is if it would benefit me.

And if so, can CATs handle Hebrew?

Thanks.

[Edited at 2013-12-02 02:51 GMT]


I translate a lot of academic texts and I don't think a CAT tool would be any help at all. Also consider that you would need a lot of extra time just to learn it, and that it would probably be very expensive.

The real killer with CAT tools is segmentation, which interrupts the development of an argument or thesis and prevents you from maintaining an overview of the whole text.

[Edited at 2013-12-02 10:02 GMT]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:05
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
What file format? Dec 2, 2013

sbdryh wrote:
I'm in discussion with a potential client for a large project, a book of over 100,000 words in an academic field that is my specialty. And the client wants this translated in a month.


In what file format is the file?


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Mark
Local time: 14:05
Italian to English
OmegaT Dec 2, 2013

Tony M wrote:

Plus the overriding problem for me is that the advantage of using this 'glossary' function is outweighed by the fact that the CAT tool will break your text down into 'segments' — for example, that might be sentences. Now quite apart from the issues of needing to translate across sentence boundaries or re-arrange ideas / sentences, this whole process takes time, and unless whole sentences (segments) recur (rare enough), most of that time is wasted; plus the extra time spent sorting out problems later! IF ONLY one could have just the glossary function without the segmentation! Maybe some CAT tools do offer this, but I don't know about other tools.
OmegaT offers an alternative of "paragraph" segmentation. I don’t much like the sound of that myself, but to avoid what you’re talking about above, I imagine it’s quite helpful.


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Texte Style
Local time: 14:05
French to English
pretty tight deadline Dec 2, 2013

I agree with Tom and Tony.

I've never heard of anyone using Search and Replace throughout huge projects so I'm glad to see I'm not alone in doing this! It does mean you get a curious mix of target and source but with Hebrew and English at least there's no confusing the two.

If the entire book is on the same subject and you specialise in this subject then I expect terminology will not be too much of a problem for you and you will be able to translate a bit faster than if you were working on a file just outside your comfort zone. However I would be wary of taking on such a workload, it makes over 3000 words a day without deducting weekends and 5000 words a day counting 20 days in the month. Even if I could probably get 5000 words of a text requiring little research under my belt every day I wouldn't have any leeway for emergencies or time to chill out... and experience has shown that that's a bad idea for me.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:05
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Not possible Dec 2, 2013

sbdryh wrote:

......a book of over 100,000 words in an academic field that is my specialty. And the client wants this translated in a month.


With or without a CAT tool, this is not possible. Even after you have bought a CAT tool and learned how to use it, which will greatly slow you down, there is no CAT tool in the world that will do all the rewriting, revising, and polishing that all academic texts require.

After you've done the first "mechanical" stage of simply translating all the words, about 80% of your time will be spent improving the translation, and there's no CAT tool that can do this.

I think you need to tell your client that if the translation is to be done properly, you will need *at least* a month working every day including weekends, and refusing all other translating jobs.

Accepting other translation jobs, I'd say 2 months would be reasonable.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 14:05
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I would never contemplate a job like that without a CAT! Dec 2, 2013

Any academic work makes use of terminology, which has to be kept consistent.

Even in your own specialist area, there are variations, which it may be challenging to remember in your head.

Apart from that, you will get tired as you work through that volume in a month.

I would set up Trados Studio and Multiterm, because that is what I use, but any CAT you are familiar with should be an advantage.

Even though there are not so many repeats as in a technical manual, you would be sure of finding some. (Chapter headings, illustrations, references... if nothing else.)

Enter all fixed phrases in Multiterm, and they will drop into your text almost automatically, correctly spelled, and save typing. If you can get someone to make you a relevant AutoSuggest dictionary, that will help too, but otherwise the AutoText feature inserts single words, though it is more clunky.

Multiterm is not just a dictionary/glossary - you can use it for all standard expressions and phrases that have to be translated consistently.

The concordance feature is invaluable - in Trados you highlight an expression in the source and press F3. Then you can see how earlier occurrences of the word or phrase were translated, in context. I use it all the time.

Chapter headings and formatting are taken care of - if they are correct in the source, then you need not think about them: the CAT will reproduce them. Simply make sure the tags are in the right place.
(Studio 2011 is good for that; Studio 2009 used to seize up now and then...)

I simply cannot handle big jobs without a CAT. Quite apart from direct repetitions, there are so many other advantages.
Learn to use your CAT properly, and it will be an enormous help.

Of course, you need the fil in an editable format, NOT a PDF... but that alsos applies without using a CAT.

Best of luck!


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Tony M  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:05
Member
French to English
+ ...
Deadline issues Dec 2, 2013

As others have said, one month is almost impossibly tight to do a quality job on this project.

And even if a CAT tool does offer certain advantages, as others have detailed above, you still need to allow for the fact that you are bound to have a certain learning curve, and the time spent learning how to use the tool is going to eat alarmingly into your deadline.

Then there is the fact that the CAT way of working is bound to slow you up initially. So say you lose 2 days just learning how to use it, and then another 3 days at lower-than-usual productivity — that's already 25% of your deadline gone, and you're maybe only 10% of the way through your project!

As far as consistency is concerned, I've never found this a problem; my own internal TM seems to be quite efficient in that respect, and indeed, I have even had occasion to manually correct other translators' CAT translations — to improve consistency! How daft is that?! I have been delighted to find that, when checking with a concordance search (= looking up previous translations of the same term, in cases where it is not in the glossary and there is no close segment match), I have often achieved spot-on consistency, sometimes years apart!

Regarding speed, I have just broken my previous record, translating 13,000 word in 12 hours; this WAS using CAT (but I have several years' experience under my belt now) AND with a very full already-created glossary and TM, which is the bit that saved me the time.


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:05
Russian to English
+ ...
Probably not. It may even further confuse you, Dec 2, 2013

especially if you start having problems with the tool itself -- like certain functions stop working, or you do not know how to use them properly.

It is a very tight deadline. You need about 3 months on average to translate a 100,000 word book, and this is without doing any other translations in the meantime. You would need at least 2 months -- even if you wanted to work past the hours, and weekends.

Just tell the client to be more reasonable.

Some people say that CAT tools help them with some term consistency, whatever that means. You should try some CAT tools and see what they are like and if they work for you.


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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:05
German to English
Project advice Dec 2, 2013

First you need to renegotiate the deadline. Although on a good day I can crank out over 4000 words (note the verb!), this is for technical texts such as manuals that have a simple style and repetitive text. Academic works make greater stylistic demands, and in my experience, require some research, even though the subject matter may be familiar.

As you can tell from previous posts, the utility of a CAT tool is subjective. These tools can help provide consistency of terminology or turns of phrase. I use CAT tools as much as possible for all sorts of texts. However, their use is predicated upon the availability of an electronically editable document. If the client sends you a bound volume, or even a loose manuscript as hard copy, you're out of luck, as having to perform OCR on hundreds of pages – and making sure of the accuracy of the scans – isn't feasible in a short amount of time.

That said, good luck with this!


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Texte Style
Local time: 14:05
French to English
negotiate a more reasonable deadline Dec 2, 2013

You can start the negotiations by suggesting three months (your ideal) and end up using two (still do-able)

If they need something translated straight off, you might suggest just translating the intro to give an idea of the text, then delivering the rest later on with a more leisurely deadline. Although you must reserve the right to want to change your mind regarding the terminology just in case.

As others have said, if you've never worked with CAT tools it won't speed you up on your first ever project, you have a learning curve to scale first!


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Kirsten Bodart  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:05
Dutch to English
+ ...
Never work with a CAT oo a job that requires style Dec 2, 2013

not even if it gives you a glossary (which you can get separately to use in any program anyway). I'd agree with Tom that segmentation impedes proper reading and comprehension, which then produces a robot-like translation you have to overhaul after exporting it. Essentially that's a waste of time and you probably won't see any of those segments ever again, because only rarely do mortals write exactly the same fancy sentences. That would be the only reason why you would consider doing this in CAT.

If you do need a list of words to remain consistent, in all likelihood the Excel spreadsheet or plain old pen and paper will do the trick (for one assignment). The spell-checker will do the rest.

As others have mentioned, never accept more than about 2,500 words (rule of thumb). You can do more with less demanding texts, but generally for something that requires some style and idiomatic language, you will need more time to think (even if you know the terminology and don't need to research, which is unlikely). I don't think 100,000 words is feasible in that time-frame.


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