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Is TRADOS worth it if I dictate translation?
Thread poster: Don Hank
Don Hank  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:00
German to English
+ ...
Jun 6, 2012

Hello,
I keep seeing ads for jobs that require TRADOS. For most of my decades-long career I have been dictating translations and then sending the dictation file to my typist. It is very quick. Then I edit when she returns the finished Word file. My clients are well pleased with my work.
I have been avoiding TRADOS because I have always thought it was for people who type their own translations and would not help.
Am I naive? I know nothing at all about TRADOS except that it costs really a lot of money. I don't want to buy it if it won't help me appreciably. I have been doing technical translation full time for over 40 years. I am an old dog but can learn new tricks IF they are necessary.
Thanks for your help and understanding.


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:00
Member
English to French
You would have to change habits Jun 6, 2012

ie type yourself (or use speech recognition, but less reliable than human typist).

Considering the way you currently work, Trados would be a waste of money, unless you reorganise your workflow completely.
If you are not pushed into moving to CAT tools, I believe having your translations typed is very efficient and productive, and CAT tools will certainly not beat that.

I can't imagine doing translations without a CAT tool, if only to reread against the source, maintain repositories of old stuff without source/target files or keep term consistency throughout. But I came to CAT tools amost immediately after starting freelancing because my targeted client base was agencies, and they've long been part of my routine work.

Philippe


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Don Hank  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:00
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for the advice Jun 6, 2012

Hi Philippe, I appreciate your help. I hate to admit this, but I don't know what a CAT tool is or how it is used in translation. Can anyone help with this?
Is it a tool that rough-translates and then enables you to edit?


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 09:00
Italian to English
Not quite Jun 6, 2012

Don Hank wrote:

Hi Philippe, I appreciate your help. I hate to admit this, but I don't know what a CAT tool is or how it is used in translation. Can anyone help with this?
Is it a tool that rough-translates and then enables you to edit?



You're thinking of machine translation, Don.

Trados and other CAT tools are better considered as text management systems (think Word with Access incorporated to hold all your past work). If you want a better idea, you can check out YouTube where Trados (other felines are available) has a channel with videos that walk you through various aspects of the translation process.

As Philippe says, a CAT will turn your workflow on its head. If you're ticking over nicely as you are, and providing employment for a typist, you may not want to change your ways but if the vids interest you, you can always download Trados and play around with it for a month before deciding whether to purchase.


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:00
Spanish to English
+ ...
CAT = Computer Assisted Translation Jun 6, 2012

Don Hank wrote:

...I hate to admit this, but I don't know what a CAT tool is or how it is used in translation. Can anyone help with this? Is it a tool that rough-translates and then enables you to edit?


There are 2 basic types of CAT tool:
Type 1) MT (Machine Translation, which "rough-translates and then enables you to edit"). There are 2 main types;
a) online (like Google translate) which require an internet connection
b) stand alone (like Systran), which works on a different principle and needs no network connection.
You can learn to use these tools reasonably quickly, the same day you install them

Type 2) TM (Translation Memory) like Wordfast, Deja Vu, or Trados; basically, you translate the texts yourself and the program builds up a TM of your own translation/s. This comes in handy later when translating versions of the same document, for example new versions of technical manuals.
These tools take different lengths of time to learn how to use.

I personally prefer Wordfast as it is reasonably priced, quick and easy to learn, whereas Trados is more expensive, complex and time-consuming, although it is also more sophisticated and considered by many (until recently) as the "industry standard".

I currently use Wordfast Classic, the most basic version, along with Dragon speech recognition, and they work fine together.

However, I tend to agree with Phillipe, that in your own case it might not be worthwhile, but you can always have fun learning to use them! I wish you luck whatever you decide


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juliette_K  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:00
French to Italian
+ ...
Not really Jun 6, 2012

Don Hank wrote:

Hi Philippe, I appreciate your help. I hate to admit this, but I don't know what a CAT tool is or how it is used in translation. Can anyone help with this?
Is it a tool that rough-translates and then enables you to edit?


Not really, Don. It is rather a software which can store your previous translation segments (phrases etc.) and let you search them while translating, thus improving consistency and making translation faster (how much? This will mainly depend on the kind of texts you translate).

It is also a tool that will let you modify, review and correct your work in a much easier way, on a two-columns screen with the source text on the left and the target text on the right.

CATs deal with termbases (i.e. databases made of source term and target term) and translation memories (databases of translation "segments", i.e. phrases, to keep it simple).

This is only a rough idea of what a CAT tool is. But in most CATs (I should rather say: in all of them) there are plenty of other functions as well.

Ciao!
Giunia

[Modifié le 2012-06-06 17:30 GMT]


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:00
Member
English to French
Use case: technical manuals Jun 6, 2012

CAT: computer-assisted translation (from CAD, computer assisted design)

Suppose you translate a manual for a software release. A CAT tool will present you with the source text and require you to translate yourself, usually sentence after sentence, in a target column. Basically, it generates a table with source strings (generally a sentence) in one column and translation in the corresponding column.

This is called a translation memory, or TM (database with source and target text).

The year after, a new release is published, and the manual is edited accordingly: new features, new version number, improvements on existing features, etc.
Using your memory you created with the previous edition, the CAT tool will highlight all changes on the fly and retrieve "exact matches" (same string as previous manual), "fuzzy matches" (modified string, such as different version number, more options, etc.).

It helps tremendously in this case: the CAT tool shows you differences and retrieves everything you have already translated (which is in the memory), including sentences that have slightly changed.

It is also helpful within the same file, where safety notices or step-by step procedures are usually not very original and are automatically regurgitated by the CAT tool.

Of course, the same applies to machinery, cars, research, etc.

As Giles suggests, videos will help you better understand what I tried to explain.

Philippe

Edit: colleagues have already drawn the picture, I am adding a layer just in case!

[Edited at 2012-06-06 17:09 GMT]

[Edited at 2012-06-06 17:11 GMT]


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XXXphxxx  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:00
Portuguese to English
+ ...
A simple explanation Jun 6, 2012

Trados is a translation memory that sits on your computer. It scans your electronic source file and learns from you as you type your translations. If it sees anything that it has seen before it suggests a translation for it. It's handy for repeated text and consistency but you have to have that electronic file to 'feed into it' and you have to be using a keyboard so you can accept or reject its suggestions.

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 09:00
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
How long... Jun 6, 2012

Don Hank wrote:
I keep seeing ads for jobs that require TRADOS. ... I have been avoiding TRADOS because I have always thought it was for people who type their own translations and would not help.


Trados is for translators who type their translations and also take care of the formatting of the text, in a way that your typist would not be able to do. The benefit of Trados for the client is that they can reduce the amount on your invoice by not having you translate sentences that you have already translated on a previous occassion. Working in Trados means working in pigeon holes and letter boxes. Trados makes typing translators translate faster (unless you get tag soup from hell). It won't make you faster.

For most of my decades-long career I have been dictating translations and then sending the dictation file to my typist. It is very quick. Then I edit when she returns the finished Word file. My clients are well pleased with my work.


The only way you would be able to do work for clients who require Trados would be if you convert the Trados file to e.g. a 3-column table in MS Word (column 1 = line numbers, column 2 = source text, column 3 = empty) so that you can dictate one line at a time (don't forget to say the line number each time). Your typist would then have to type into column 3. Then you would have to figure out a way to convert that thing back to Trados (and if there is any formatting involved, it'll take much time).

Trados clients tend to pay very little (and even less for things that they regard as time saved), so I doubt if you should consider going the Trados route.

I know nothing at all about TRADOS except that it costs really a lot of money. I don't want to buy it if it won't help me appreciably.


If you're trying to get work from clients who require Trados, then you would have to buy Trados and use it (and learning it will take some time). If you simply want to use CAT to enable you to do e.g. concordance searches in old translations, or have 100% matches auto-translated, then I suggest using a free tool e.g. OmegaT.

Note that if you use Trados, then you yourself will be responsible for the formatting (not your typist), and I believe that that already cancels any benefit that you might have from Trados.


[Edited at 2012-06-06 17:28 GMT]


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Jenn Mercer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:00
Member (2009)
French to English
Maybe Jun 6, 2012

I am going the other direction. I have been a Trados user for years and am experimenting with Dragon Naturally Speaking. I have found that it works better for some documents than others. It is best when I know what I am going to write and am just trying to get it on the page as fast as possible. Conversely, it is also good when my brain is stuck to "talk out" the translation. It is frustrating when I have a text filled with formatting and "fiddly bits." Sometimes I use the keyboard and speech software together so that I will speak a sentence of the translation and then press CTRL-ENTER to confirm and save the segment. Other times, when I am really on a roll, I will dictate both the translation and the commands, i.e. "The quick fox jumped over the lazy brown dog PRESS CONTROL ENTER" and the dictation software will "type" the phrase and then "press" CRTL-ENTER for me. Like most things, I would see if you can find a demo or someone who already has the software you are considering and give it a whirl.

[Edited at 2012-06-06 17:59 GMT]


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Joakim Braun  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 09:00
German to Swedish
+ ...
Don't go there Jun 6, 2012

You sound like a guy that knows his terminology inside out, and you have work that plays to your strengths. I'll bet you can dictate easily and fluently almost as fast as you read, with very little post-editing required.

Trados won't do anything for you. It's convenient with some types of jobs, but the UI is terrible and the application is full of bugs (see any number of forum posts here). It'll slow you down compared to your current way of working, and with every sentence you type you get taken out of your "flow".

(But Trados doesn't cost "a lot of money" - its cost is about the same as any professional-level application in any field, whether translation, DTP, animation or whatever.

Also, even if Trados is not optimal for you, there are reasons why you might want to check it out anyway.)


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 10:00
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Only if you want to broaden your customer base Jun 7, 2012

If you think you are currently not making enough money, you could try CATs. But if you have enough work along your current approach then stick to it.

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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:00
Spanish to English
+ ...
Helps organize things Jun 7, 2012

juliette_K wrote:
It is also a tool that will let you modify, review and correct your work in a much easier way, on a two-columns screen with the source text on the left and the target text on the right.

This is only a rough idea of what a CAT tool is. But in most CATs (I should rather say: in all of them) there are plenty of other functions as well.

Ciao!
Giunia

[Modifié le 2012-06-06 17:30 GMT]


I find the "modify, review and correct " by segments aspect of TM software to be very useful; it certainly helps me to be more systematic, as the way I work is usually quite chaotic.


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MikeTrans
Germany
Local time: 09:00
Member (2005)
Italian to German
+ ...
You don't have to bother about any CAT tools... Jun 7, 2012

Hello Don,

You strongly look like my mentor 20 years ago: He was giving me some insides about the translation work in general and then, we went into his office, he was dictating for 5 minutes doing his day job, and then we stepped out having a nice time.

Essentially, if you are working at this level, you don't need to bother about any CAT tool, it would be a waste of time for you.

Greets,
Mike


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 16:00
Chinese to English
What CAT does Jun 7, 2012

Don Hank wrote:

I don't know what a CAT tool is or how it is used in translation. Can anyone help with this?


With a CAT tool, work goes like this:

You take the source text in an electronic format (Word document or some pdfs), and you load it in your CAT software. The CAT software breaks it up into segments - generally sentences. You translate, saving each segment as you go. At the end, the CAT software stitches together all the target segments, in the same format as the original, and saves them as a target text. Thus you've got your translated document to send to the client.

All the saved segments are stored as linked pairs (source segment and target segment) in a translation memory (TM). The next time you open a document, the software breaks the document up into sentences, and if any sentences are the same as (or very similar to) a segment you've translated before, the software suggests the translation you used last time. You can accept it or change it.

In order to get any benefit from a CAT tool, you have to be entering the text yourself. Thus it wouldn't work with your current set up. If you used computer dictation instead of human dictation, you could combine it with CAT.


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