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Simplest way to get freelancers up and running with a CAT tool?
Thread poster: Mark Daniels

Mark Daniels  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:56
Serbian to English
+ ...
Feb 9, 2016

It is quite hard to find good translators in my language combination so I often work with freelancers who have a flair for the language but have never used CAT tools. Actually, a shocking number of translators still work without them.

I am trying to brainstorm ways of getting them up and running with a CAT tool without too much expense, and integrate them into my SDL or possibly MemoQ workflow.

Wordfast Anywhere seems like a good option - not too complicated, free for now, and can work with SDL project packages (?) - I envisage sending them an SDLPPX, or even setting up a project on a Wordfast Anywhere account for them just to dive in, and then saving it back as a SDLXIFF or SDLPPX again when they are done and reimporting into SDL for finishing.

Does this sound viable to you? Any other suggestions?


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Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:56
German to English
+ ...
Sorry to be blunt... Feb 9, 2016

but this business model sounds awfully dubious to me. Are you saying you hire rank amateurs to do your translation work for you (cheaply, I assume) and are now trying to get them to use CAT tools as completely inexperienced non-professionals? Please tell me I'm reading this wrong...

Sorry, I have no suggestions regarding CAT tools. I'm not a big fan, even though I use them. They are primarily a ploy used by agencies/outsourcers to squeeze their suppliers' prices even further. Others, however, swear by them. Whatever.


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Mark Daniels  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:56
Serbian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
there are language combinations where it is very hard to find quality native speakers of English Feb 9, 2016

I don't want to go into great depth about my business model, but put simply there are language combinations where it is very hard to find quality native speakers of English but who can work to payscales more appropriate for that market. So yes, there is an economic aspect, but if you think it is possible to maintain Western pricing in all markets then you do not have the whole picture of the translation industry.

In any case I can't really agree with your assessment of CAT tools - we are way past the point where it's just about agencies trying to get you to discount repetitive texts, they are an indispensable tool and having translators send me .DOCX (or .DOC!) files where they typed over the original text is anachronistic to say the least.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:56
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Try me Feb 9, 2016

Mark Daniels wrote:

It is quite hard to find good translators in my language combination so I often work with freelancers who have a flair for the language but have never used CAT tools. Actually, a shocking number of translators still work without them.

I am trying to brainstorm ways of getting them up and running with a CAT tool without too much expense,


I'm a shocker who doesn't use CAT tools. If you want to assist me, I am available for a very reasonable hourly rate. Contact me if you want more details.

[Edited at 2016-02-09 11:17 GMT]


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esperantisto  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:56
Member (2006)
English to Russian
+ ...
OmegaT Feb 9, 2016

In my experience, OmegaT can perfectly process XLIFF files generated by memoQ. Probably, SDLXLIFF should not be a problem.

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 05:56
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Translators who don't use CAT tools aren't "amateurs" Feb 9, 2016

Woodstock wrote:
Are you saying you hire rank amateurs to do your translation work for you... and are now trying to get them to use CAT tools as completely inexperienced non-professionals?


Having read both your post and the original post, I can only conclude that you believe that translators who do not use CAT tools (no matter how good their Notepad translations are) are amateurs. Do you really believe that?


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Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:56
German to English
OmegaT would have been my suggestion Feb 9, 2016

As a Wordfast Classic user, my first thought was also to suggest the free tool OmegaT. I think it is basically the same thing as WfC, except that it is based on .odt files instead of .doc/.docx.
This would permit the translators to build up and use a glossary, search their corpus of previous translations, have TM matches automatically recognized and - last but not least - to have their translation displayed segement-by-segment together with the original, which helps a lot for editing and preventing omissions. And it is presumably extremely easy to learn!

Expecting amateurs to figure out and reliably use real CAT tools (that is, probably anything except Wordfast Classic or OmegaT) seems unfair and unwise.

My understanding is that switching between CAT tools is always problematic in terms of generating TMs, etc. In combination with amateur users, no solution is likely to consistently produce adequate results. Aligning the incoming translations and source texts yourself with your own tool seems like a much better strategy anyway. Something along those lines would probably also be the most effective solution in terms of inserting matches into incoming texts.

And I can't resist commenting on the business model: Why? Given the choice between a non-native translator with very good English and a native non-translator with good or very good source-language skills, why would you choose the native speaker over the translator? Or is the issue subject-matter experts?


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esperantisto  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:56
Member (2006)
English to Russian
+ ...
Wrong Feb 9, 2016

Michael Wetzel wrote:

As a Wordfast Classic user, my first thought was also to suggest the free tool OmegaT. I think it is basically the same thing as WfC, except that it is based on .odt files instead of .doc/.docx.


OmegaT is a standalone program, not an add-on like WFC. Thus, it is not based on any file but can take various source formats including DOCX. However, for the asker DOCX does not seem to be relevant.


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Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:56
German to English
thanks for pointing that out Feb 9, 2016

I don't know how I got the idea that OmegaT is basically the same thing as WordfastClassic.
I just took a quick look at the manual and it looks like a regular CAT, i.e., completely bewildering to anyone not used to working with it.
I would say that WordfastClassic is far too expensive for an amateur and it doesn't really offer what the poster is looking for anyway.


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Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:56
German to English
+ ...
I'll say! Feb 9, 2016

Mark Daniels wrote:

... So yes, there is an economic aspect, but if you think it is possible to maintain Western pricing in all markets then you do not have the whole picture of the translation industry.


So, according to your public Proz profile, you charge .07 EUR per word for your three languages into English, and 25 EUR per hour. Hmmm.

And, by the way, I have been translating for most of my adult life, so yes, I know about different pricing for different markets, just by being in the business and partly through direct experience: I am frequently approached with unacceptable offers from abroad, but there is also something called "a living wage" no matter where you reside.

Regarding CAT tools, I have been using them for more than 10 years, also for blue chip German corporations, so we will just have to agree to disagree on their primary usefulness to outsourcers. I am not referring to end clients here, who - in my experience - often don't even know they exist.


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Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:56
German to English
+ ...
@ Samuel No, you are misreading my reply. Feb 9, 2016

Samuel Murray wrote:

Having read both your post and the original post, I can only conclude that you believe that translators who do not use CAT tools (no matter how good their Notepad translations are) are amateurs. Do you really believe that?


I don't know what you are reading, but to clarify it for you, the poster says he is hiring non-professionals to do translation work, and now wants those same non-professionals to learn to use CAT tools as cheaply as possible. Just because I use CAT tools (I have worked with 3 different ones, at times concurrently for different clients), certainly does not mean that professional translators who don't are less qualified or should be less successful. Tom in London is a good example of a respected professional who doesn't use them, and there are many more. Is that clearer now?


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Mark Daniels  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:56
Serbian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
obligatory title Feb 9, 2016

Michael Wetzel wrote:

As a Wordfast Classic user, my first thought was also to suggest the free tool OmegaT. I think it is basically the same thing as WfC, except that it is based on .odt files instead of .doc/.docx.
This would permit the translators to build up and use a glossary, search their corpus of previous translations, have TM matches automatically recognized and - last but not least - to have their translation displayed segement-by-segment together with the original, which helps a lot for editing and preventing omissions. And it is presumably extremely easy to learn!

Expecting amateurs to figure out and reliably use real CAT tools (that is, probably anything except Wordfast Classic or OmegaT) seems unfair and unwise.

My understanding is that switching between CAT tools is always problematic in terms of generating TMs, etc. In combination with amateur users, no solution is likely to consistently produce adequate results. Aligning the incoming translations and source texts yourself with your own tool seems like a much better strategy anyway. Something along those lines would probably also be the most effective solution in terms of inserting matches into incoming texts.



Thanks for your suggestion, I would certainly help with training - but yes, that is what I am after, basic use of CAT tools where everything can be put into a memory, while the segment-by-segment approach ensures greater consistency. Yes, I have aligned files myself before - it is a REAL hassle as compared to simply importing an SDLXIFF file or whatever.



And I can't resist commenting on the business model: Why? Given the choice between a non-native translator with very good English and a native non-translator with good or very good source-language skills, why would you choose the native speaker over the translator? Or is the issue subject-matter experts?


Sadly I cannot share your optimism about non-native speakers. For most of my clients that's just not an option, they come to my agency for absolutely idiomatic, native English, and I have never yet encountered a non-native who was able to produce that. Or even many natives for that matter!


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Mark Daniels  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:56
Serbian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
token title Feb 9, 2016

Woodstock wrote:

Samuel Murray wrote:

Having read both your post and the original post, I can only conclude that you believe that translators who do not use CAT tools (no matter how good their Notepad translations are) are amateurs. Do you really believe that?


I don't know what you are reading, but to clarify it for you, the poster says he is hiring non-professionals to do translation work, and now wants those same non-professionals to learn to use CAT tools as cheaply as possible. Just because I use CAT tools (I have worked with 3 different ones, at times concurrently for different clients), certainly does not mean that professional translators who don't are less qualified or should be less successful. Tom in London is a good example of a respected professional who doesn't use them, and there are many more. Is that clearer now?


Well, I am not talking about "hiring cheap non-professionals", that's rather putting words in my mouth. There are a number of translators who started out with my agency who had a natural aptitude, whom I trained in CAT tools and helped become very able translators after they learned what dynamic equivalence was and about the need for idiomatic expression in the target language. While they worked for me (and some still do) I paid them well above the average rate for this market. So I rather call it "investing in people" - it's good for me and it's good for them.


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Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:56
German to English
more pessimism than optimism Feb 9, 2016

Edit: Just saw your answer to Woodstock, which aleady answers my question below.


My response was based on pessimism about non-translators and not optimism about non-natives.

I don't know what kinds of texts you normally deal with, I suppose that makes a big difference.

I would (largely) agree that non-natives (almost always) produce inadequate results and I actively avoid non-natives when outsourcing, but ...

... have you had better luck with non-translators?

Even if a translator isn't specialized in any field, several hundred thousand words of general experience in a language pair already makes a big difference. Even without studying translation, there is the unavoidable development of routines and practical strategies, the collection of reference material, developing a sound grasp of what we are doing as professional translators.

I started out working on very small projects in a situation very similar to the subcontractors you are talking about. Things worked out alright, but: (1) I was also only working within my field of expertise, which provided me with a major advantage compared to your average professional translator, (2) I had been living, working and studying in my source-language country for seven years, so I probably also had a better grasp of my source language than the average amateur translator, and (3) I was earning a pretty good rate, so I had no need to rush. Even so, I would guess that the results were acceptable at best (I'm afraid to go back and look, to be honest).

What I really meant to say was I would accept that a non-native translator has a fighting chance but I don't even know if I would grant that to a native non-translator.

[Edited at 2016-02-09 13:48 GMT]


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Stepan Konev  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 07:56
English to Russian
Answering the question 'How to encourage translators using CAT tools'... Feb 9, 2016

...in my opinion, is paying 100% for all.
Most clients use CAT tools to reduce translator's fee. This is the strongest reason for 'non-CAT' translators to keep working without CAT tools. They believe that 'using a CAT tool' is synonym to 'get lower pay'. And right they are.
In fact, CAT tools ensure uniform translation (which is good for client), accelerate the translation process (which is also good for client), allow translators use the client's pre-determined glossary (which is good for client again), ensure no omissions/not translated fragments (which is also good for client again and again).
Thus, using a CAT tool by translators gives a number of benifits to clients just by design. No need to reduce the fee. It's already beneficial.
Nevertheless, clients apt to get even more profit from CAT tools by deducting 74-80%, 81-90%, 91-99%... fuzzy matches, not speaking of 100% and repetitions which are for free by default.
Clients already win by employing CAT-translators. But no, it's not enough for them! They invent 'effective words', 'effort words', whatever you call this... They measure work in 'no-match' words ignoring all other instances (though such 'instances' also need processing).
I've never seen a client that uses (and encourages using) CAT tools without deductions.
Ok, some of them lock 100% segments and repetitions (and pay 100% for all other segments from 99% to nomatch). That's fair enough because they assume all responibility for such segments. But vast majority want more.
Why non-CAT translators may want to use a tool that thieves their fee? Traditional practice by clients is that an [usually] expensive CAT tool makes translators' work cheaper...
So... Be innovative. Try to pay 100% for all work. I am pretty sure this will do the trick =)
Good luck!

[Edited at 2016-02-10 09:44 GMT]


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