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Is Trados necessary for a new comer?
Thread poster: Toni-Fisher

Toni-Fisher
Local time: 03:44
English to Chinese
Dec 29, 2011

Hi I am from Homg Kong, and I have translation degree three years ago. Now I am considering working as freelancer, I don't have any translation experience except some volunteer works. And I don't have Trados or any translation software. Where should I begin with?

I am thinking about learning Trados, is this software necessary for a newcomer of this business? It is a bit expensive for me and I want to hear what fellow big brothers/sisters' advice.

Thanks in advance!


 

Sam Pinson  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:44
Member (2011)
Russian to English
Doesn't have to be Trados Dec 29, 2011

Hi, Toni-Fisher.

There are quite a few CAT tools out there. While nothing mandates the use of Trados, I would strongly recommend researching the popular tools and investing in one of them. Many have a trial version or a trial period so you can evaluate the product before you buy.

I've seen other translators say they don't use a CAT tool. More power to them, if that works for them. To me that seems like a carpenter doing without power tools. By the way, if I was looking to hire a carpenter, a lack of power tools would not engender confidence. I can't imagine being a translator without a CAT tool.


 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:44
English to German
+ ...
Power tools Dec 29, 2011

Sam Pinson wrote:

Hi, Toni-Fisher.

There are quite a few CAT tools out there. While nothing mandates the use of Trados, I would strongly recommend researching the popular tools and investing in one of them. Many have a trial version or a trial period so you can evaluate the product before you buy.

I've seen other translators say they don't use a CAT tool. More power to them, if that works for them. To me that seems like a carpenter doing without power tools. By the way, if I was looking to hire a carpenter, a lack of power tools would not engender confidence. I can't imagine being a translator without a CAT tool.



Your one and only power tool is your brain.

For whatever reason you also might feel inclined to believe that a man is not a man without an artificial penis-extension.

Soooorrrryyyy.... I couldn't resist. icon_smile.gif


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 03:44
Chinese to English
Dunno about a penis extension Dec 29, 2011

But a reasonable collection of ties, handcuffs, sex toys and gels can be a lot of fun...

So I'm told!

Toni: you absolutely do not need Trados to start with. In my experience, Hong Kong agencies use Trados for some of their big clients so that they can manage terminology effectively, but there are lots of jobs available with no Trados requirements. And direct clients generally don't know about Trados and don't ask for it.

It's worth trying some CAT tools - I used to be very against them, but I've been using Trados for a very big client (to manage terminology and speed up translation of similar documents), and in the process have come to quite like the interface. So it's definitely worth investigating. But you don't have to spend all that money right now.


 

Allison Wright  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 20:44
German to English
+ ...
Investment in money and time Dec 29, 2011

Nicole is quite right about using your brain as your chief tool; you need to develop your translation style and confidence in your own ability before embarking on the use of what is a complex interface.

After 24 years of translating, I have just signed up for Trados. I decided to learn it by translating a fairly short text with a very generous deadline. There is an inordinate amount of time-consuming reading one has to do in order to understand the system, and this detracts from the job at hand: translation.

My guess is that I will have to use Trados for a lot more than 1,300 words before I am confident enough to accept a job which requires Trados. I gather that once one gets the hang of it, Trados can be a useful tool.


 

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:44
Hebrew to English
Amazing but true..... Dec 29, 2011

I'm one of those stone-age translators that doesn't (currently, I won't rule it out) use CAT tools.
For me, at the moment, the cost-benefit analysis just doesn't justify such an expense.

Believe it or not, I can segment my own text.
Believe it or not, I can proofread and check for consistency myself.
Believe it or not, I can use Word for half the features that Trados sells itself on.

...You get the idea.

I'm not saying Trados (or others) aren't without benefits, I'm sure they include lots of quirky little features which one might find useful, and certainly as far as file type compatibility and translation memories go, they're a big advantage....

If you have a brain, and know how to use it, then this is your power tool, Trados et al are just a nice luxury to boot.

The main reason people swear by CAT tools is their supposed ability to speed up the translator...even the Trados website claims that:
*65% of translators surveyed agree that using a CAT tool allows them to work up to 40% faster.

http://www.sdl.com/en/language-technology/products/translation-memory/sdl-trados-studio/#tab1

However, I tend to agree with the Yiddish proverb: "Geshvindkeit iz nor gut floi tsu chapen."
....Speed is only good for catching flies.


 

Tony M
France
Local time: 21:44
Member
French to English
+ ...
CAT in general Dec 29, 2011

I can't speak about Trados specifically, I've only used it once and didn't find it very intuitive or ergonomic to use.

But generally, I've been very resistant to the use of CAT tools, mainly because they have little to offer for the kind of work I usually handle.

I tried out the free version of Wordfast classic, which I found intuitive and easy to use, albeit inclined to be quirky at times; when a big job came along for which it was ideal, I took the plunge and bought the paid version (and have just bought it again, as my 3 years was up), and it certainly made this job easier, as there was a very high degree of repetition of very simple segments.

I have since used it on other jobs, and find the glossary (i.e. individual terminology) feature more useful than the actual TM.

That said, the other day, I had to do a job in a rush, which was a large user manual containing huge chunks that had already been translated, and hence were already in my TM. Using W/F for this enabled me to do the 6000+ words in only a day and a half, instead of the 2–3 days it might otherwise have taken me; however, this kind of productivity increase is for me exceptional, and purely the result of the content of this specific document.

[Edited at 2011-12-29 10:18 GMT]


 

Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 21:44
Italian to English
Precision as well as speed Dec 29, 2011

Ty Kendall wrote:

I'm not saying Trados (or others) aren't without benefits, I'm sure they include lots of quirky little features which one might find useful, and certainly as far as file type compatibility and translation memories go, they're a big advantage....



Well, being able to work on DTP formats (almost) as easily as you can on Word files expands your potential client base, if nothing else.



If you have a brain, and know how to use it, then this is your power tool, Trados et al are just a nice luxury to boot.



No, it's more than that. Once you have digested how to use the tool and can concentrate on translation, as opposed to which button to click next, CATs boost precision and give you options that Word can't.

If you organise your TMs properly, you can access your legacy translations - whether for consistency or to remind yourself of options you may have thought of many years earlier - at a click, incorporate specialised glossaries (termbases) into your working environment and so on.



The main reason people swear by CAT tools is their supposed ability to speed up the translator...even the Trados website claims that:



The advertising is valid and the point is important, particularly if you are selling translations as a commodity at so much a kilo.

However even those of us who try to put the accent on quality find CATs useful. It doesn't have to be Trados, and it doesn't even have to cost you anything, but a text management system that is a little more sophisticated than Word is a useful addition to any translator's box of tricks.

What amazes me is how worked up some excellent but CAT-illiterate translators get about these programs (no, not you, Ty!).


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 21:44
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Trados is for experienced translators Dec 29, 2011

Toni-Fisher wrote:
Now I am considering working as freelancer, and I don't have any translation experience except some volunteer works.


Trados is for experienced translators only. For beginners, I suggest Metatexis or Wordfast Classic. If you want something free, try OmegaT.


 

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:44
Hebrew to English
Not quite a Luddite..... Dec 29, 2011

I agree to an extent, I wouldn't class myself as vehemently anti-CAT tools. Don't get me wrong, if someone gave me a thousand euros tomorrow I'd buy it.....

....but at the moment, for the work I do (mostly legal stuff - not very repetitive), for the clients I work for (the vast majority don't and have never required trados), the cost just doesn't justify it...not yet anyway.

I'm perfectly amenable to the idea that one day I'll be a Trados worshipper, but I don't think it's "necessary" as the question asks. - not in my language pair anyway, I've noticed that Trados has more of a foothold in other language pairs.


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 16:44
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Levels of automation Dec 29, 2011

Sam Pinson wrote:
I've seen other translators say they don't use a CAT tool. More power to them, if that works for them. To me that seems like a carpenter doing without power tools. By the way, if I was looking to hire a carpenter, a lack of power tools would not engender confidence. I can't imagine being a translator without a CAT tool.


This reminds me of a movie I saw. The father was teaching his teenage son to drive, and telling him how he learned it. The kid says, "Wow! You learned to do it on Grandpa's Studebaker? Without cruise control? That must have been really tough!" They didn't even consider the possibility of someone learning to drive without automatic transmission, using a stickshift.

Though it would take a while to find ink for it, I could go back to my translation methods when I started out in 1973, using a Parker 51 (the same - still have it!) and a paper dictionary. However the process would be relatively inefficient today.

However many translation outsourcers nowadays don't seem to care much about my language pair, my experience, my quality, nor my skills. All they want to know is whether I have Trados. If I do, they say they'll smother me with translation work. If I don't, they'll refuse to give me the time of the day. They have built a sizeable market of their own, which I chose not to serve.

Amidst the spam SDL (Trados developer) sends me all the time, once I got a link to a questionnaire that would calculate how long it would take Trados to pay for itself in my specific work environment. I entered, as accurately as I could, a lot of information on my general work demands, and got the answer... 13 years! And yet this considered only the initial purchase of the current version, didn't take into account the expensive once-a-year upgrade required to stay in this market.

However before you think that I've simply replaced that Parker 51 with a Bic crystal ballpoint, no! I use WordFast on a computer. Though WF looks and feels like $19.99 shareware, yet costs much more, it helps me do the job efficiently. None of my good clients cares if I use any CAT tool at all, as long as I don't leave any trace of it in my deliverables.


 

Christel Zipfel  Identity Verified
Member (2004)
Italian to German
+ ...
If many years ago Dec 29, 2011

in order to be considered a good translator you needed amongst other an excellent knowledge both of the source and the target language, a profound knowledge of the fields you translated in and the best possible dictionaries, nowadays it almost seems you need (only?) Trados.

This proves that the publicity of this particular CAT-tool producer has worked like a charm for agencies who seem to like best of all the discount scheme, and for freelancers that feel they are nothing without Trados and happily grant all the discounts requested once they have spent a lot of money to buy the software, not to mention the considerable time to learn it.

Sorry, but I can't refrain from being cynical - I find all this rather bewildering.



[Bearbeitet am 2011-12-29 17:33 GMT]


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 21:44
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
CATs are useless without the old-fashioned translator virtues Dec 29, 2011

Christel Zipfel wrote:

in order to be considered a good translator you needed amongst other an excellent knowledge both of the source and the target language, a profound knowledge of the fields you translated in and the best possible dictionaries, nowadays it almost seems you need (only?) Trados.



If you exchange Translation Memories with experienced and trusted colleagues, you can see how they have translated particular sentences and expressions on earlier occasions, but a CAT does not change the quality of the input. If you feed garbage in, you will get garbage out. You can at any time delete and correct it of course, but this can be laborious.

I sometimes get medical records as PDF files that are not suitable for Trados. I can translate these almost as fast as similar texts where I can use Trados, if the repeats come in large chunks that can be cut and pasted. However, I do have to use alternative methods to keep track of the terminology, and I miss Trados and its accessory, Multiterm, because these are efficient ways of doing the job.

I used Wordfast Classic for a while, and it is also very effective, but the glossary function is less sophisticated than Multiterm. Admittedly Multiterm can be very frustrating when it does not work, but I can make do with the TM and concordance instead if I have to.

A CAT is not necessary, and it depends a great deal on what kind of text you work with, whether it is actually an advantage. For standardised language like user manuals, and to a large extent medical records in a clinical trial, where there are many similar cases and forms of treatment, it is a useful tool.

I hated Trados at the start, and it is not NECESSARY for a beginner. However, if you work for agencies, you will be expected to use one, and I would strongly recommend trying out the free versions of two or three before you make your own decision about which to use, or not to use one.

Best of luck!


 
depends on what ur working on Dec 29, 2011

Right now Im working for a company that is trading with electric components....I have almost 31 500 pages to translate...

A lot of duplicities...This kind of job CAN NOT BE DONE without CAT (im using trados) imho....

On the other hand...last month I was working on a book about scuba diving...And i didnt use CAT at all...
Really...it depends on the work you do...


 

Toni-Fisher
Local time: 03:44
English to Chinese
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you! Nice to meet you all! Dec 29, 2011

Thank you for your advice. Actually I don't have any concept of using CAT tool (tutors in colleage never mention this). I haven't heard of Trados until one agency told me that, they give out jobs through Trados, so if I don't have it I'll lessen the chance to get a job. (so far I haven't got any job from them indeed!)

I think I will try out a trial version first. Another thing I want to know is, if having Trados (and the skill to use it) help a newbie to increase job oppotunity from potential client/agency?


 
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