Translation tools in Canada
Thread poster: CLS Lexi-tech

CLS Lexi-tech
Local time: 03:42
Member (2004)
English to Italian
+ ...
Sep 5, 2009

You know that this is my favourite topic, anyone working for Lexi-tech International, now CLS Lexi-tech, knows it.
And yet, I still have difficulties convincing our freelancers to acquire the tools that allow us to handle huge contracts and long-term clients.
The main issue, as I see it, is that the major employer of translators and freelance translators in Canada (guess who) has been very slow in adopting tools. Any tool, something other than dictation or plain old Word or WordPerfect.
It you have to translate millions of words for a client, as we do, you simply cannot operate efficiently without memory tools. Human memory is just too limited. Not the translation skills, just memory.
Often I am told that the investment is financially burdensome. I know, but if you were in business cuttiing trees, would you not get a power chain saw, or would you still use an axe?
In a word, I am continuously looking for en-fr qualified translators, with the tools to translate efficiently in today's competitive market.

Cheers
Paola


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Madeleine MacRae Klintebo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:42
Swedish to English
+ ...
Answer you might get from a lumberman Sep 5, 2009

Looks like I misread Paula's posting so have deleted my response.

[Edited at 2009-09-05 22:46 GMT]


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Lesley Clarke  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 02:43
Spanish to English
I'm curious Sep 6, 2009

I do hope I haven't got the wrong end of the stick here but, if I understand you correctly, you are complaining that the translators your company uses do not want to get CAT tools.

When you say it is financially burdensome my mind automatically turns to Trados, am I right?

And then I presume you will want to apply the famous Trados discounts, am I right?

So you are asking your translators to spend a lot of money in acquiring the tool, then a lot of time which is also money) and effort in learning how to use it and then earn less money because of the discounts.

Do correct me on any point where I am wrong.

If your problem is that your translators are not desperate enough for work to accept this demand, I think you would have to meet them half-way, asking for a CAT tool that is cheaper and easier to learn or not applying discounts.


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CLS Lexi-tech
Local time: 03:43
Member (2004)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Tools and rates Sep 6, 2009

No, you are not wrong.
Do you work with a tool? After having translated for some 20 years on and off, starting with paper and pen and moving to more efficient means with the technology, I could not now translate or revise without the help of the tool. Yes, we apply discount, but there is stuff there in the memory for those discounts: suggestions, concordances, terminology approved by our revisors that you don't have to struggle with.
You have to place this in the context of clients that are not occasional, but have been there for years, and have built those units of half units with us.
There are translators who have acquired these tools working with us and have thanked me, even with the discount: they are more productive, they learn from the suggestions in the memory, they get a clearer picture of what the client wants. Also, there are internal translators working for those same clients, and working online in the same memory, is not just important, but essential. In some cases, you get paid for a source word, and by the time you get there, it has already been translated by someone else, and it is there in the memory.

I hope I have given you some answers, from my point of view of course.

Cheers.


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Marinus Vesseur  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 00:43
English to Dutch
+ ...
Agencies should do their part, but CAT is unavoidable for most of us. Sep 7, 2009

Most agencies will lower the price per word if the 'economic situation demands it'. If that's how it is - translation as a commodity with a spot market price - then the agency should understand the reverse situation, too: if there is more demand than supply you'll have to do something to keep your translators with you.

How about you reward your translators by providing them with the tool of your choice? Throw in a few free seminars while you're at it. I'm serious.

CAT tools and the Internet have made us into little cog wheels in the big translation machine run by agencies, some of which are professional, but some terrible amateurs (Lexi-Tech is one of the better ones). I can fully understand Lesley Clarke's position on this.

Still, I work with Trados, even if it makes me crazy sometimes. It was paid for by one of my first agencies and I stuck with it. Trados, Wordfast, Deja-Vu and the like have their advantages, especially if you do repetitive work: my consistency has definitely improved. It's like an extension of your memory, really. It's a bit like calculating with a calculator instead of your mind. There are pros and cons.

One very important point for the future: machine translation is coming and it will put many of us out of a job. When that time comes you will either have to work in a field that machine translation can not cover, or you'll have to then scramble to get the skills to deal with CAT tools. The older you get, the harder it will be. So for the sake of your self-preservations I'd still recommend working with CAT tools. But don't tell your clients about discounts unless it's unavoidable


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Lesley Clarke  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 02:43
Spanish to English
Don't get me wrong Sep 7, 2009

I use a translation tool myself, I was just curious about the fact that you cannot convince your translators to use one. That is where one wonders about what you say about it being a competitive market. That applies both ways. As Marinus says it is supply and demand and if you cannot attract translators who want to accept your conditions, they are obviously getting better conditions elsewhere and there are not enough translators in your language pair to push down the standards that translators expect.

Again, don't get me wrong, I know nothing about your company nor am I suggesting anything more than what can be understand from your posting here.

I personally use a CAT tool for my own benefit. As you say, more than anything it supplements my memory. I was only once sent a translation memory from an agency and it wasn't much use. But one of the problems I can envisage is that you probably want one CAT tool in particular. There being so many on the market, the chances are that most translators have another CAT tool and aren't so inclined to buy one especially for your jobs.


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CLS Lexi-tech
Local time: 03:43
Member (2004)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Tools, machine and cog-wheels Sep 7, 2009

I speak here personally.
I came into translation from literature and translated literature and big fat books at first. In retrospect, I wish I had had a memory translation then, to find, for example, how I had translated a word, that midway through the book revealed itself as heavy with meaning and implications, and to which I had to give a slightly different nuance. I did not feel a cog-wheel then, just underpaid to boot, working by hand and human memory, typing, sweating bullets to meet the publisher's deadline.
So that you know. But I was a cog-wheel, invisible, unknown, blamed for the mistakes of the author, besides mine.
Translation has become a lot more professional since then and we have the tools that professionals should use. Translation is business too (ask my publisher then) not just art, even when it is art.
And here comes machine translation: do you want to translate the same stuff over and over again? I don't think so. Blessed are the 100% units, and the high fuzzies that save me time to translate something else, assuming I still translate, that allow me to revise ensuring consistency (I still revise).
There is more translation, in Canada at least, than translators, trust me. Problem is, translation here is mandated by law, and those who have to translate by law resent it and try to push the prices down. Official bilingualism, while ensuring that translation continue to exist, also gives translation a strange reputation. The best clients? Those who translate by choice, to make their products available to a larger market.
I was not a fan of the market when I was younger, but the market has a way to give value to things (also to the wrong things, mind you).
Those who resent and resist the tools are fighting the wrong battle. How many of us would resist the cell phone, the microwave oven, the car, the jet plane? We may have been wary at first, but then we gave in.
In any case, I am speaking personally here, and I know you have caught my drift.
Cheers
Paola
as translator and revisor only


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CLS Lexi-tech
Local time: 03:43
Member (2004)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
No tools Sep 7, 2009

Lesley Clarke wrote:

I use a translation tool myself, I was just curious about the fact that you cannot convince your translators to use one. That is where one wonders about what you say about it being a competitive market. That applies both ways. As Marinus says it is supply and demand and if you cannot attract translators who want to accept your conditions, they are obviously getting better conditions elsewhere and there are not enough translators in your language pair to push down the standards that translators expect.

Again, don't get me wrong, I know nothing about your company nor am I suggesting anything more than what can be understand from your posting here.

I personally use a CAT tool for my own benefit. As you say, more than anything it supplements my memory. I was only once sent a translation memory from an agency and it wasn't much use. But one of the problems I can envisage is that you probably want one CAT tool in particular. There being so many on the market, the chances are that most translators have another CAT tool and aren't so inclined to buy one especially for your jobs.


Most translators in Canada have NO tools. Those on Proz.com may have tools, because otherwise they would not be on this site following developments in technology and translation. Yes, at CLS Lexi-tech we use one tool mostly, but others too. And this is only normal, when you have to integrate internal and external translators.
Cheers.


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Marinus Vesseur  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 00:43
English to Dutch
+ ...
The pros and cons of CAT tools Sep 7, 2009

...And here comes machine translation: do you want to translate the same stuff over and over again?


You have a point there. I'm a fan of machines; they've enabled our prosperity. Who wants to do boring stuff all the time? They may also take our prosperity away again, now that the more hard-working, traditional nations have learned how to use them. But that's another story.

As you say, the demand for translation grows with the amount of content and globalization, so the true professional should be safe, with or without CAT tool.

But I do see a flip-side, particularly when it comes to assuming that a sentence can always be translated as a 'repetition' when it contains the same words. In the larger context that is often not true. Now that I have become a more confident translator I would like to take more liberties, concentrate more on meaning, feel, atmosphere. But Trados keeps limiting my creativity, I find. That's where it makes me feel like that 'cog wheel'.

Still, in essence I agree with you. It's just that I think that an agency that benefits at least as much as its vendors when a CAT tool is used should also think about active steps to help them acquire and use it.


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Fabienne1969
Local time: 09:43
French to English
+ ...
Machines, why not, but... Sep 15, 2009

Basically, I am not against machines, otherwise I wouldn't be using a computer and the Internet right now! However, as far as CAT tools are concerned, I'm quite parted...

Several months ago, a translation agency wanted to offer me a nice and big document to work on... The only condition to get it was to work with a CAT tool... Not even aware of what this was, I didn't get the job.

Honestly, I don't like that. Do people judge you on the value of your work or on your ability to use such programs? I've learned how to work with Wordfast since then, but I EXCLUSIVELY use it if I am requested to, never on my own initative, simply because I go so much faster without it than with it!!!!!!

I was recently assigned to translate from German to French the instructions of a video game, with plenty of little paragraphs here and there, many pictures and so on... So, I said to myself "Why not doing it with the help of Wordfast"? That was a very bad idea! Wordfast doesn't care about little pictures and drawings here and there or small paragraphs hidden behind an illustration, Wordfast wants a nice and clear text... It was obviously not so. As a result, I spent an entire afternoon trying to make it work, whereas the next day, when I had to start it all again from the beginning and this time without Wordfast, it only took me two hours and with a very positive feedback in the end.

There is also the discount problem... Is it normal to reduce a rate just because a translator has used a CAT tool? Using a tool may sound easier, but it's not that easy actually, sorry. When you have to search for some specific terms and words, time is needed, even though you use a CAT tool!

Translating the same stuff over and over again is no problem to me. It helps me feel comfortable in my work, that's all. Every job is a matter of doing the same thing over and over again! A translator does, an accountant does. Some people like this routine (I do), some others don't...

Just my two cents...


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Madeleine MacRae Klintebo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:43
Swedish to English
+ ...
Looks like I wasn't wrong with my first, now deleted, answer. Sep 15, 2009

Paola Ludovici MacQuarrie wrote:

Most translators in Canada have NO tools.


Is "most" possibly an exaggeration here?


Yes, at CLS Lexi-tech we use one tool mostly, but others too. And this is only normal, when you have to integrate internal and external translators.


Maybe this is where the shoe actually hurts. You want freelancers to bear the extra cost of acquiring numerous CAT tools, alternatively, the "industry standard"/most expensive CAT tool (need I name names?). And the cost is not only monetary, don't forget the time and effort needed to learn a new tool.

Freelance translators are generally sole traders, i.e. small independent businesses (= one person businesses). And you expect them to take on the extra financial, time and effort cost involved with using your preferred tool? Are you prepared to pay for this?

If so, would it not be more cost efficient for your company to learn how to import TMs from other tools into your preferred tool, and aligning the translations, rather than paying X number of freelancers a premium for using the tool of your choice?


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Marlene Blanshay  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 03:43
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
speaking of which...termium Oct 10, 2009

is now free to all users. If you don't know it:
http://www.btb.termiumplus.gc.ca/


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Rick Henry  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:43
Italian to English
+ ...
CAT tools Oct 10, 2009

Madeleine MacRae Klintebo wrote:
...
Maybe this is where the shoe actually hurts. You want freelancers to bear the extra cost of acquiring numerous CAT tools, alternatively, the "industry standard"/most expensive CAT tool (need I name names?). And the cost is not only monetary, don't forget the time and effort needed to learn a new tool.

Freelance translators are generally sole traders, i.e. small independent businesses (= one person businesses). And you expect them to take on the extra financial, time and effort cost involved with using your preferred tool? Are you prepared to pay for this?

If so, would it not be more cost efficient for your company to learn how to import TMs from other tools into your preferred tool, and aligning the translations, rather than paying X number of freelancers a premium for using the tool of your choice?

I use mainly two CAT tools (Trados and my preferred, Heartsome Suite). I personally am glad I shelled out the money for at least one of these programs. They've helped me up my daily word throughput, when needed. what I *don't * like, and generally stay away from, is an agency trying to get discounts out of me because I've invested in something that helps *me* get the job done.

I've so far been fortunate enough to not have to deal with that, although I've been approached with the discount mantra.

I mentioned in another post that I've only been required once to actually use Trados, because they refused to deliver a TMX, rather a TMW. Most agencies I've worked with will gladly provide me with a bog-standard TMX, or ask for one back, knowing that I can, if needed, resort to proprietary formats. And I've on occasion provided help to PMs in exactly how to import TMX into the greater project, believe it or not.

Would I shell out more money for updates? Absolutely - and I have. As Paola mentioned previously, they help both the translator and the agency. But as an agency, don't go thinking that you have a *right* to discounts because I've invested in tools to enhance my profession.

R.
==


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 09:43
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
What are the *reasons* they don't buy the tools? Oct 11, 2009

Paola Ludovici MacQuarrie wrote:
The main issue, as I see it, is that the major employer of translators and freelance translators in Canada (guess who) has been very slow in adopting tools.


There must be many reasons why people aren't keen to adopt certain tools. The fact that their main client doesn't require it, seems a rather unlikely reason to me. More likely reasons may be that the tools are very expensive, or that the tools are difficult to use (for them). If this is case, have you considered adopting a secondary workflow that makes provision for cheaper/free and easier/simpler translation tools? It may require a bit more work on your part (eg preparing more files), but if you can get more translators to use CAT tools, you will get the advantage of memory use and match discounts.

Often I am told that the investment is financially burdensome.


Sometimes it is not so much that the tool is too expensive, but that the user fears that he will not be able to use it efficiently after he bought it. I know I bought a few products that I ended up not using nearly as much as I had hoped.


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:43
French to German
+ ...
A perspective as per CAT tools Oct 11, 2009

We all (should) know that the so-called "industry standard CAT tool" has been marketed -and sold- both to freelancers and LSP's with promises of more or less mirific ROI. But what happened? LSP's could not understand freelancers anymore, as the tool in question was sold to the latter as a possibility to leverage from their TM's, while it was sold to the former as a way of reducing bills by paying fuzzy matches according to a sliding scale system. And freelancers could not understand LSP's for the same reasons. So the only real winner (yes, I know: it has been said over and over again) of this operation was and still is the publisher of the CAT tool in question.
So and with respect to Madeleines question (Is "most" possibly an exaggeration here?), I would tend to believe that even freelancers who own such tools will say they don't, if only in fear of having to do "the same job" with tighter deadlines and for less money (this one looks a cliché, I agree, but even clichés find their roots in real life).


[Edited at 2009-10-12 08:05 GMT]


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