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Starting out with only omegaT - is this possible?
Thread poster: xxxsjbeale
xxxsjbeale
Local time: 18:41
Spanish to English
+ ...
Apr 26, 2009

hi there - I'm looking to strike out into the world of freelance translation as an extra source of income (not giving up my day job just yet!!). I have read up about omegaT but it seems that most people who use it seem to use other TM software in conjunction with it. My question is whether it would be possible to start out with only omegaT as I understand a lot of agencies ask for Trados translations etc. My problem, as I'm sure you know, is not having the expertise / finances to splash out on Trados / Deja Vu withouth either knowing the program or knowing whether it is a worthy investment. If you have started out and work solely with omegaT I would love to hear from you!!

I should note that I am a Modern Languages graduate (BA Spanish & French Hons.) with a specialisation in education (as 3 years as a TEFL teacher shows!!). thanks in advance for all your advice!!

Kind regards,

Steve


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Natalie  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 19:41
Member (2002)
English to Russian
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MODERATOR
Hi Steve Apr 26, 2009

My advice would be trying out Metatexis: the Light version is free, and Metatexis is fully Trados-compatible, which means that you can use Trados files sent to you, as well as deliver your clients the ready files in Trados format (if needed).

Best,
Natalia


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Fernando Guimaraes  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 18:41
German to Portuguese
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You Apr 26, 2009

You can use OmegaT and try Wordfast (free version) and Across (also free)

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Susan Welsh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:41
Member (2008)
Russian to English
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Sure you can start with OmegaT Apr 26, 2009

I started there, and am still there. It's not true that most people use other TMs with OmegaT, although those who are proficient at such things can do so. (There is now a plug-in that makes it Trados compatible, although I have not used it.)

Apart from being free, OmegaT has both advantages and disadvantages, like all software. It's probably one of the easiest to learn (there is a tutorial on the website for people who have never used any CAT tool at all--like myself, when I started); it is platform-independent (meaning you can use it on Windows, MAC, Linux, etc.); and there's a great group of volunteers that work on it and are very helpful answering questions.

Good luck!


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Miles Crew  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:41
Chinese to English
No need Apr 26, 2009

You don't need to invest in a CAT tool just to get started. One year in, I'm only just getting started playing with Wordfast; my "mentor" who got me started has been in business for 22 years without getting into CAT tools. I guess how useful and/or necessary they will be probably depends on your language, the source format you work with (a substantial amount of the material I deal with is in PDF format, and the results I've seen of OCR performed on Chinese has been unusable), and the market for your pairs. A CAT tool would certainly be a good thing to add to your toolbox (and resume), but it's hardly a prerequisite.

[Edited at 2009-04-26 20:16 GMT]


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 18:41
Member (2003)
German to English
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Starting with TEnT tools Apr 26, 2009

sjbeale wrote:
My problem, as I'm sure you know, is not having the expertise / finances to splash out on Trados / Deja Vu without either knowing the program or knowing whether it is a worthy investment.


In the long run a commercial translation environment tool (TEnT) is a good investment, but it's one I'd make only if I were serious about the profession and not just dabbling for pocket money. To make your first acquaintance with translation memory concepts, OmegaT is a perfectly decent tool; it has its shortcomings, but it's simple enough that feature clutter won't get in the way of learning the basics. Once you've done that you can and should start looking around at other solutions. The new Trados pricing scheme is rather ridiculous I think, and the technology to be introduced with the upcoming 2009 Studio is more mature with other companies and much cheaper too. At the conference I attended last week, Jost Zetzsche, a noted expert on translation tools, predicted that the market will change dramatically in the next few years and we may no longer have a clearly dominant tool like we do today. At the same time back-end standards are being emphasized more, so compatibility will improve regardless of individual coices of the TEnT front-end. I think his basic logic in arriving at that conclusion is sound, and it wouldn't surprise me if this proves to be the case over the next 5 years.

Dejà Vu is a super tool that has served me well for about 10 years and deserves serious consideration. I am a little concerned about its lack of development in the past few years and the decline in the quality of support. Atril announced a new distribution and support arrangement recently that may change that in some parts of Europe, but I'm now sure what's planned elsewhere. Have a look at Kilgray's MemoQ when you start trying commercial software. It is evolving faster than just about anything else on the market, and I expect it to keep getting better.

However, all that is for the future if in fact you do have one as a professional translator. In the meantime, OmegaT is a good tool for a start, and you may find that it will serve you just fine for longer than you expect. If not, you can always migrate your data without difficulty to a bigger, better tool.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 19:41
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
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Don't use OmegaT... yet Apr 27, 2009

sjbeale wrote:
I'm looking to strike out into the world of freelance translation as an extra source of income. I have read up about OmegaT but it seems that most people who use it seem to use other TM software in conjunction with it. My question is whether it would be possible to start out with only OmegaT as I understand a lot of agencies ask for Trados translations etc.


So your question is essentially whether you can start out without buying Trados. The answer is yes. You don't need Trados. Agencies that that require Trados will not, however, accept you if you have only OmegaT. So having OmegaT will not give you any advantage except that it will increase your personal productivity. You are new at translation for a living and therefore you don't have any personal productity... yet. So my suggestion is to forego the CAT tools for 6 to 12 months and do translations without it. Or, use OmegaT but use "paragraph segmentation" for the first 6 months. I seriously doubt the wisdom of using a CAT tool with sentence segmentation if you don't have any experience as a translator. Your experience as a teacher doesn't count (sorry). Six months...


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Wolfgang Jörissen  Identity Verified
Belize
Member
Dutch to German
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Paragraph segmentation Apr 27, 2009

Samuel Murray wrote:

use OmegaT but use "paragraph segmentation" for the first 6 months. I seriously doubt the wisdom of using a CAT tool with sentence segmentation if you don't have any experience as a translator. Your experience as a teacher doesn't count (sorry). Six months...


Interesting approach. What is the advantage of "paragraph segmentation" according to you?


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 19:41
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
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Paragraph segmentation Apr 27, 2009

Wolfgang Jörissen wrote:
Samuel Murray wrote:
Use OmegaT but use "paragraph segmentation" for the first 6 months. I seriously doubt the wisdom of using a CAT tool with sentence segmentation if you don't have any experience as a translator.

Interesting approach. What is the advantage of "paragraph segmentation" according to you?


Bigger chunks.

I think the way CAT tools break up text is unnatural. Text has context. If you focus on a single sentence, then you tend to forget context. An experienced translator will be more capable of countering the effect of the CAT tool (namely to reduce or remove context). An inexperienced translator has no experience of the way context "behaves" in a text, and if he uses a CAT tool straight-away, he will be robbed of the opportunity to learn about context.

So if a new translator wants to use a CAT tool, my suggestion would be to do so with big chunks of text initially. He will not benefit from fuzzy matching but he will still benefit from things like concordance searching, using his TM.

I myself would not use paragraph segmentation, because for me the biggest advantage of a CAT tool is fuzzy matching, and for that you need small chunks of text. I also prefer to use a WYSIWIG CAT tool (eg Wordfast), because then I'm less prone to disregard context, and my translations are more natural, even though I'm using sentence segmentation.


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xxxsjbeale
Local time: 18:41
Spanish to English
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TOPIC STARTER
paragraph segmentation is the best method for someone new to translation? Apr 27, 2009

[/quote]Use OmegaT but use "paragraph segmentation" for the first 6 months. I seriously doubt the wisdom of using a CAT tool with sentence segmentation if you don't have any experience as a translator.[/quote]
Interesting approach. What is the advantage of "paragraph segmentation" according to you?[/quote]

So if a new translator wants to use a CAT tool, my suggestion would be to do so with big chunks of text initially. He will not benefit from fuzzy matching but he will still benefit from things like concordance searching, using his TM. [/quote]

I'm guessing paragraph segmentation is translating a whole paragraph as one single block of text at a time? (in terms of how the translation memory sees it that is) I see what you are saying about the loss of context as from my little translation experience I am very aware of how easy it can be to get lost in one sentence and hence lose the overall context. I was assuming that smaller blocks of texts would be a better way to start out as that way you could improve your translation memory and hence become faster sooner. So, what you're saying would be to concentrate on quality rather than quantity and overall coherence at the beginning? Thanks again for the info. I have since considered purchasing Wordfast if things do go to plan as I understand, at least for the price, that it could be one of the shrewder purchases. Yet again, I will see how it goes. Thank you all again for the invaluable advice.


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Susan Welsh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:41
Member (2008)
Russian to English
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Apples and oranges Apr 27, 2009

sjbeale wrote:

I'm guessing paragraph segmentation is translating a whole paragraph as one single block of text at a time? (in terms of how the translation memory sees it that is) I see what you are saying about the loss of context as from my little translation experience I am very aware of how easy it can be to get lost in one sentence and hence lose the overall context. I was assuming that smaller blocks of texts would be a better way to start out as that way you could improve your translation memory and hence become faster sooner. So, what you're saying would be to concentrate on quality rather than quantity and overall coherence at the beginning?


The length of a document has nothing to do with the issue of paragraph segmentation vs. sentence segmentation, and the idea of "improving your translation memory" doesn't make sense. It doesn't work that way. On the first issue, say I have a document with 150 sentences organized into 10 paragraphs. The only question is whether your CAT tool is going to consider there to be 150 segments or 15. A segment is a unit to be translated. It could be any size (it could be the length of Tolstoy's War and Peace), but sentence segmentation is generally used for various reasons. It's not that you can't SEE what comes before and after, but rather that the computer focuses your mind on that segment (which is usually a different color, or otherwise differentiated from what comes before and after. That's why Samuel is suggesting paragraph segmentation as a start--to make sure you see the forest, and not only the trees.

On the second point, "translation memory," you don't seem to really understand what this means. Go to one of the CAT tools' user's manual, or Wikipedia, and read up on it a little.

I think Samuel's advice of not using any CAT tool for 6 months is wise, by the way.


Susan


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 19:41
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
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Do not overestimate the power of fuzzy matching Apr 28, 2009

sjbeale wrote:
I was assuming that smaller blocks of texts ... could improve your translation memory and hence [you can] become faster sooner.


Well, it depends on the types of texts you get. If they're all from the same client or in the same field, then translation memory from one project might be useful in subsequent projects.

But in my experience, even a large TM produces very few matches unless the TM's content is from the same field as that of the document. For this reason I rarely spend time finding reference TMs from old projects unless I know that the TM is likely to provide me with matches (eg if it is the same or similar client and of the same field).

So, the fact that your first six month's TM will be "worthless for fuzzy matching" isn't such a big issue as it may seem.

[Edited at 2009-04-28 07:18 GMT]


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FarkasAndras
Local time: 19:41
English to Hungarian
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old times Apr 28, 2009

Miles Crew wrote:

You don't need to invest in a CAT tool just to get started. One year in, I'm only just getting started playing with Wordfast; my "mentor" who got me started has been in business for 22 years without getting into CAT tools.


Well, 22 years ago everyone was working without CAT tools. Pretty much everyone was working without using the Internet as well and quite a few worked with typewriters back then... and some people have trouble adapting to new technologies. That doesn't mean it'd be a good idea to start out without using those technologies in 2009.
In many fields, CAT tools are a must and even if the client doesn't force you to use them, they can make the difference between delivering a horrid hodgepodge of a translation days after the deadline (in case of teamwork) and delivering a good translation well before the deadline.

As to OmegaT, I would not recommend it wholeheartedly. In my brief tests, it didn't convince me at all.


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xxxsjbeale
Local time: 18:41
Spanish to English
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TOPIC STARTER
why would you not recommend omegaT? Apr 28, 2009

FarkasAndras wrote:

As to OmegaT, I would not recommend it wholeheartedly. In my brief tests, it didn't convince me at all.


In what respect did it not convince you? I have heard it is prone to bugs - was this what you found? Basically I want to start out with a piece of software that I won't need to change a few months in to save learning to use another program from scratch - or is this not likely in the ever-changing world of translation?!

Thanks again.

[Edited at 2009-04-28 13:55 GMT]


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Susan Welsh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:41
Member (2008)
Russian to English
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OmegaT previous thread Apr 28, 2009

Take a look at this, for previous discussion:

http://www.proz.com/forum/cat_tools_technical_help/123181-are_there_any_cat_freeware_tools_available.html


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