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creative translation with CAT tool?
Thread poster: Simona Sgro

Simona Sgro  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 08:56
Member (2010)
English to Italian
+ ...
Aug 13, 2014

Hi colleagues,

I wanted to share with you my concerns about a request made by an agency and I would appreciate your advices and opinions. Thanks in advance for your time!

This agency contacted me directly because of my marketing expertise: one of its VIP clients rejected the test translations done by some 'expert' translators of the agency. The client said the Italian translations seemed to be google translated. The agency asked me to proofread 2 of the translations submitted to the client, telling them if I thought they were google translated and asked me to do my own "creative" translation.

I did the proofreading and said that both translations were not bad but they were too literal, the text didn't sound natural, smooth and it was not easy to read. I did my own 'creative' translation (focusing on sintax and sentence structures) and in the end the client appreciated my job.

After all this thing about creativity... the agency now wants me to use a CAT tool to do the translation. Whereas I hate using CAT tools even for technical jobs (and I find it ridicolous they want to pay less for fuzzy matches.. in marketing), I really don't know how one can do a creative translation working on segments and while creating a useful TM (I should not change the order of the sentences, is that correct?). I asked the agency and they just replied: the others do it, therefore it's possible, so please go ahead.

Do you use cat tools for marketing translations? If so how do you organize your work? Do you work on segments? Are you paid for fuzzy matches?


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Cilian O'Tuama  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:56
German to English
+ ...
Creativity and CAT? Aug 13, 2014

I'd've thought they rule each other out. Heck, it's marketing, for X's sake!

> "the others do it, therefore it's possible, so please go ahead."

Of course it's "possible", but the client is obviously not happy with the way the "others" (forced to use CAT) do it. And if you follow their directives, it won't be long before your work will also be found by agency/client to be "too literal" etc.

CAT does not leave much room for creativity.

They can't have it both ways. But explaining this to clients is very tedious. One needs to be very diplomatic

If they want your creativity, then no fuzzies.


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philgoddard
United States
German to English
+ ...
It does still have its uses. Aug 13, 2014

I do mainly creative marketing translations, and I don't normally use TM because I don't feel there's any point. But sometimes I use my clients' online TMs at their request, particularly for more technical marketing such as car brochures that get rewritten and updated at regular intervals, and where the concordance is very useful.

But I've also had a lot of job offers where the client requests TM simply because that's what they use for everything else, and I agree that this is silly. It doesn't improve your productivity, and it can act as a barrier to creativity. Often, if you say "I don't use TM and I don't feel it's appropriate here," they'll agree and accept the job in Word.

So keep an open mind - except where fuzzy matches are concerned. I never agree to discounts.


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Rossana Triaca  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 08:56
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
Advocating CAT tools... Aug 14, 2014

I'm a staunch CAT supporter for almost all translation workflows, and not only for technical texts. In fact, for marketing texts my experience has been that there are a ton of advantages of using automated QA checks to ensure consistency (particularly for brand names, trademarks, taglines, slogans, boilerplate texts, etc.).

When you get repeated material from the same client, they really are a boon because you don't waste time in the minutia (dates, places, figures, contact details, and many more) and can instead focus on the creative aspect of the translation (which generally takes an inordinate amount of time in itself, so any productivity gains are welcome).

Also, you don't have to rely on your memory or notes if Corporate decided a specific product was targeted at young tweens or VP execs: previous corpora for the same product line reminds you immediately of the right register and terminology... there are really many many advantages of indexing and cataloging everything you translate.

That being said, CATs are just a tool, and in the hands of mediocre translators they tend to exarcerbate their shortcomings. Segmentation-wise, the tool just does an automated breakdown of the text in order to manage it (nothing more, and nothing else); the translator is by no means limited to follow the same text cohesion and he or she must ultimately decide what is appropriate in the target language (these 3 short English sentences should really be a long paragraph in the target language? Join away!).

There are many "techniques" to polish the resulting TM (depending of what you prefer/need worflow-wise), but you can simply ignore (gasp!) the segmentation provided by default and type as if there were absolutely no boundaries (provided you understand why each unit was segmented in the first place, so you know how it will look in the recreated document). The same goes for relative text order, since modern databases also index previous/next segments, so you always have context.

In short, translating sentence-by-sentence just because that's how the text is presented, is as arbitrary and silly to me as translating word-by-word just because there's clearly a blank space between words. Nah, you can't justify this by saying "the CAT made me do it!"

Money is a whole different beast: for creative texts I would only accept a discounted rate for repetitions and, say 99% matches and upwards, i.e., text we both know I really only had to glance over (it's not rare to get practically the same document the following year but with different artwork and a couple of updates).

Everything else should be charged handsomely, and if they insist on having additional discounts based on fuzziness then you'd have to raise your base rate until the end figure for the entire project makes sense to you. In any event, wordcounts really are an inaccurate measurement for the time invested in these types of texts anyway, so you should always consider the whole money/hours ratio instead.

Sorry for the wall of text, hope it helped


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dropinka  Identity Verified
Italy
English to Italian
+ ...
I don't use them Aug 14, 2014

Ciao Simona,

Simona Sgro wrote:


After all this thing about creativity... the agency now wants me to use a CAT tool to do the translation. Whereas I hate using CAT tools even for technical jobs (and I find it ridicolous they want to pay less for fuzzy matches.. in marketing), I really don't know how one can do a creative translation working on segments and while creating a useful TM (I should not change the order of the sentences, is that correct?). I asked the agency and they just replied: the others do it, therefore it's possible, so please go ahead.

Do you use cat tools for marketing translations? If so how do you organize your work? Do you work on segments? Are you paid for fuzzy matches?


I don't use CAT tools for marketing translations. Rarely was I asked to use them and when it happened I simply declined the offer. I personally find such tools hinder a creative approach to translation, which is exactly what marketing copy needs in order to be adapted effectively.

I also find it ridiculous they want to pay less for fuzzy matches -- I may be totally wrong, but I suppose the texts you'll be working on won't be that repetitive. Besides, in marketing translation you often end up finding synonyms for the same word (so as to avoid repetition, which makes the copy dull) instead of being consistent with the way you previously translated such word in the text. Quite the opposite of what you would do in technical translation...

Claudia


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 12:56
Italian to English
Yes Aug 14, 2014

Simona Sgro wrote:

Do you use cat tools for marketing translations?



Yes.



If so how do you organize your work?



Let's assume it's a Word document:

1) Read through.
2) Analyse/pre-translate in SDL Studio (to leverage legacy translations and make an offer for the job).

If the customer accepts the offer:

3) Where necessary, adjust segmentation in Word, or segmentation rules in Studio.
4) Translate, revise and QA in Studio.
5) Export to Word for proofing, readability checks and so on.
6) Reimport into Studio/update Studio TMs.
7) Deliver job (with invoice if it's a new customer!)



Do you work on segments?



See above.



Are you paid for fuzzy matches?



I'm not a great fan of selling translations by the keystroke/word. If at all possible, I prefer to email an overall fee for each job and ask the customer to confirm or decline it in their (dodgy number agreement, I know, but what the heck!) reply. The email also proposes a delivery date of "x working days from your acceptance of this offer".

[Edited at 2014-08-14 07:01 GMT]


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Mark
Local time: 12:56
Italian to English
Phew. Aug 14, 2014

Rossana Triaca wrote:

That being said, CATs are just a tool, and in the hands of mediocre translators they tend to exarcerbate their shortcomings. Segmentation-wise, the tool just does an automated breakdown of the text in order to manage it (nothing more, and nothing else); the translator is by no means limited to follow the same text cohesion and he or she must ultimately decide what is appropriate in the target language (these 3 short English sentences should really be a long paragraph in the target language? Join away!).

There are many "techniques" to polish the resulting TM (depending of what you prefer/need worflow-wise), but you can simply ignore (gasp!) the segmentation provided by default and type as if there were absolutely no boundaries (provided you understand why each unit was segmented in the first place, so you know how it will look in the recreated document).
I'm glad to hear someone else expressing what sounds like basically my view on the matter: software doesn't really stop you being creative unless you let it.


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Texte Style
Local time: 12:56
French to English
I'll do it for the sake of consistency Aug 14, 2014

There's an agency that always sends me stuff to be translated using their CAT tool.
I do it for the reasons outlined by Rossana,

but then I always export the text (or get the PM to export it, since that function is sometimes blocked in the file they send me) and give it a thorough pounding in its exported form, running the spell check if it's in Word or PPT, chopping and changing the word order, sentence order, running sentences together and splitting them up, sprucing up the presentation and making any other cosmetic changes as I see fit, and generally making sure it sounds polished and natural.

The PM always asks me to make the same changes in the CAT tool file, but I only bother if I change a term that crops up in the termbase - but I've usually sorted out the terminology before export stage.

I only really do it to humour them because they give me lots of really interesting work, and I had to really stick to my guns so that they didn't try applying their silly sliding scale rates for fuzzies. Insofar as I make a lot of improvements to their pre-translated segments, the full whack is more than justified.


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:56
Russian to English
+ ...
Don't do any test translations, anymore. I changed my mind. Aug 14, 2014

I used to be for short test translations, but 99% of them are total scams--the agencies, most likely, ask a few different translators to handle parts of the text, and then they combine them. Otherwise , they use your translation to get quite complex jobs--hard to get, from the end client, and then use cheaper translators to do the work. Even the 1%, which are not scams--I mean total scams, are not graded properly--they are being checked against some ridiculous matrix, having assumed that everyone will translate the text exactly the same --word for word. So much for the test translations--they should be a thing of the past.

As to using CAT tool for literary translation--they usually prove harmful, since they segment the text and disturb the creative process. Also, repetitions--they are not welcome in literary translation, in the form of using similar words or constructions too often. There aren't even that many repetitions in literary texts. CAT tools might be helpful in technical translation, or when translating some catalogue lists of terms, etc.


[Edited at 2014-08-14 09:30 GMT]


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Gudrun Wolfrath  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:56
English to German
+ ...
Hello Simona Aug 14, 2014

" I asked the agency and they just replied: the others do it, therefore it's possible, so please go ahead."

Yes, the others do it, and yes, it is possible, and no, they didn't like the results.

I don't work with CAT tools either, and for this kind of job they aren't helpful at all.

Save your time for better clients, Simona!

Best,
Gudrun


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Simona Sgro  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 08:56
Member (2010)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Aug 14, 2014

Thanks a lot for your opinions, suggestions and help!

@Gudrun, Claudia, Cilian that's exactly my point: the client already rejected translations that "he felt" were google/cat tool translated (but I'm sure they were not), why he should now accept a job "really" done with a cat tool... where the flow of the transcreation will be limited by the tool? The only one that will have profit from this will be the agency.


@Giles, you have reported exactly what I DON'T WANT to do. What's the help a cat tool can give you in the process you mentioned? It suggests repetitions? I don't need it, I need to avoid them most of the times! And also: how many repetitions you can find in a marketing text? From my point of view I will not have any help from the cat tool, I will have to work a lot more (to paste and copy and adjust and then past and copy again!!!!!!), edit every single fuzzy match and in the end be paid less. I really don't find any reasons for a translator to use a tool in this particular case.

Let me also add that the field is not technical.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 12:56
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Google translated and CAT translated are two very different things Aug 14, 2014

I am with Rosana, Giles Watson and the others who use CATs for marketing texts.

But no discounts for fuzzies unless they really are 95% + AND re-usable. (Names, dates, addresses, fixed details and slogans...)

I have indeed used my CAT creatively - when presented, for instance, with an updated version of the blurb for last year's trade fair, which, BTW bore striking similarities to earlier years too... and the client asked me to freshen it up and disguise the fact!

Then I have taken advantage of some of the fuzzies to re-word sections and tweak them away from the 'same procedure as last time' by deliberately writing something different!

Trados Studio can be set to take in whole paragraphs as segments, so you get practically no fuzzy matches, but the concordance is still useful. I rarely do it, but if I find in practice I am merging and reshuffling segments all the time, then it is a useful feature.

BTW Studio 2009 may seize up if you merge or divide too many segments, but I find the later versions can cope with it - I do it a lot.

I use Multiterm creatively too - not just as a glossary, but as a source of 'strings' of all sorts - clients' slogans and fixed expressions, or just my own regular typos!

A CAT is a very versatile tool if you use all the features. It is never more reliable than the last translator who updated the TM, but bearing that in mind, you can always override it and make your own improvements.

And like Giles, I do the final revision in Word without the CAT, but I use mine for just about everything.

It does depend on your personal workflow, but I have adapted my CAT to suit me, and use it whenever I can, including creative assignments.


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Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:56
German to English
TMs and advertising copy Aug 14, 2014

Individual advertising texts rarely contain much repetition (and if so, it is usually immediately recognizable). However, advertising campaigns and additional texts of clients generally contain lots of repetitive material that shows up in various media and materials and it generally ought to be highly consistent or systematically varied (as in Christine's example). Cost is obviously also a factor - and this does not involve anyone cheating anyone, it is just normal (and good) rationalization.

The CAT will not help you if you are only given one text, and it won't help anyone if the client and/or intervening PM don't know what they are doing or if the translators and copywriters aren't made to understand their roles in the overall process. But, if everyone does things right, it will greatly improve the collective quality of the client's material, reduce the client's costs and enable the agency (and its translators) to make good money with an offer lower than that of the agency's competitors.

In terms of segmentation (particularly in cases like recurring blocks of text containing multiple segments whose order has been changed in the translation), everyone has to be on the same page and they also all have to understand why less is almost always more in terms of the big picture.

Changes to syntax, word order, etc. (everything below the level of a segment) are irrelevant, because they do not cause any problems for the CAT. Supplemental context-specific transitions and interconnections between separate sentences can obviously cause problems, but the client/PM, copywriters and translators simply need to work out ways to deal with these issues.

I would agree that fuzzy-match discounts only make sense in exceptional cases.


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Sarah Elizabeth
Italy
Local time: 12:56
Italian to English
CAT tools and marketing texts: brand consistency Aug 14, 2014

I have been the sole 'into English' translator for a highly innovative furniture design company for the last four years, and have always used a CAT tool for translating their marketing texts, which are quite creative, as you might imagine.

Why do I use a CAT tool for this company's projects? They invest a lot of time and money in their marketing campaigns and marketing texts: they have an enormous product line and special language and terms that they use both company-wide and for individual products, processes, initiatives, etc. Using a CAT means that when these things come up during a translation (which they do very, very frequently), I know immediately how I have translated that word or phrase before, and can maintain the same level of consistency that they do for the things where consistency counts and really matters.

As we all know, there are lots of different ways of translating pretty much any given word or phrase, and many of these translations will be equally good and suitable in a given context. But the writers at this company work hard to maintain consistency in their marketing language -- I use a CAT tool to help me do the same.

But I also used a CAT for a 180,000-word scholarly volume on a single fourteenth-century fresco cycle. Why? Linguistic consistency. Again, there are more often than not many ways of correctly and effectively saying the same thing and yet for a project like this, certain things like the titles of paintings, pigment names and the names of restoration techniques need to be consistent across the entire volume, which in this case involved a dozen different authors. Using a CAT tool helped me maintain consistency where consistency counts across a truly massive volume that was translated over the course of more than a year, with countless other unrelated projects carried out in between while the editors waited for the authors to submit their contributions.


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 19:56
Chinese to English
Everything Sarah said, but... Aug 14, 2014

Sarah Elizabeth wrote:

...marketing texts...creative...know immediately how I have translated that word or phrase before...consistency counts...scholarly volume...Linguistic consistency...titles of paintings, pigment names...a dozen different authors.

I've had situations strikingly similar to Sarah's, and done the same thing: used CAT for consistency.

Just a few days ago, though, I got royally fed up with doing my current project in Studio. It's a book of essays on literature, with long sentences and idiosyncratic paragraphing, and the segmentation into sentences just wasn't helping me to "get it." So I switched back to old-fashioned translation in Word - just for this job - and I'm much happier. I can always switch back later if need be. So, it's like Mark said: the technology doesn't rule us!


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