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Wordfast for dummies
Thread poster: Kim Metzger

Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 10:26
German to English
Apr 22, 2006

Hello - I'm totally new to CAT tools but decided to see if I could figure out how to use one. I downloaded Wordfast 5 and am using MS Word 2002.

So far I am completely lost. I tried the training manual for beginners, but the sample exercises for English speakers require the user to translate into French, so the sample lessons are useless to me.

I've been studying the User Manual and getting nowhere.

Since the purpose of using a CAT tool is to make translating new texts easier (using the translations that I already have), it seems to me that the first thing I need to do is to program Wordfast to recognize what I already have in MS Word.

Can someone tell me how to do that?

Thanks in advance for your suggestions.

Kim

[Edited at 2006-04-22 17:51]


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Sonja Tomaskovic  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:26
English to German
+ ...
Program? Apr 22, 2006

Kim Metzger wrote:
So far I am completely lost. I tried the training manual for beginners, but the sample exercises for English speakers require the user to translate into French, so the sample lessons are useless to me.


I am not quite sure why that should be a hurdle. After all, these texts are only used to visualise what is going on. Why don't you just take one of your own texts, one that you have done before, and just follow the steps described, disregarding the French examples given in the beginner's manual.


Since the purpose of using a CAT tool is to make translating new texts easier (using the translations that I already have), it seems to me that the first thing I need to do is to program Wordfast to recognize what I already have in MS Word.


I think the problem here is that you really don't know how a CAT tool works in principle. You can't just "program" Wordfast to recognize your old translations. That part is called alignment, and it is a rather time-consuming process. IMHO, it would be easier to simply understand the basic concept of a CAT tool. Wordfast is definitely easy to use for beginners, but if you just don't know what you can do with it, and what you can't, it will not help you at all.

Articles I can recommend:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Translation_memory
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Translation_Memory (in German)
http://www.universitas.org/cms.html?id=28 (in German)

I haven't read the Wordfast manual in years, but I am sure that it describes the basic principle at the very beginning. Maybe that can help you understand better what this is all about.

HTH.

Regards,

Sonja


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Armorel Young  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:26
Member (2004)
German to English
Start with a new translation Apr 22, 2006

You have my sympathy every step of the way Kim. I was in exactly your position (although with the added advantage of having attended part of a training session at the Proz conference) and, like you, I struggled to get off the ground at all. But do persevere - it's worth it, or at least it's worth it if you regularly do translations of similar material.

Inputting translations that you've done already into its translation memory isn't, however, a good place to start. That's called "aligning" and, while it can be done, it's a bit fiddly and time-consuming. I wouldn't recommend tackling it until you're happy with the basic function of doing a new translation in Wordfast. Start with just a few sentences in your source language - put them in an open Word document, then double-click on the Wordfast icon (you have got a Wordfast toolbar showing, haven't you?) to start segmenting the document. You should find you've got the first sentence of your source text in a box with a blue background, and a grey box underneath where you can start typing your translation. Have you got that far?

On the Wordfast website (under "Download") you'll find both the "English training guide level 1" and the "Full technical reference manual". The former is much easier to work through - and don't worry about the examples being Eng. - Fr. - simply work on a short source document of your own choosing and you should still be able to follow the process.

Feel free to get back to us and let us know what particular points you've got stuck at.


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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 10:26
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
The CAT concept Apr 22, 2006

Thank you for your advice Armorel and Sonja. I'll work on it some more and see if I can make some progress. I guess I must have inherited some of my grandfather Elihu Preston's attitudes toward new technologies. He was a farmer in Indiana during the rural electrification program of the 1930s and refused to allow the government to hook his house up because he didn't trust this new fangled idea. So my grandmother and her children had to make do with lanterns and candles for a while longer.

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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 18:26
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
How far did you get? Apr 22, 2006

When you open Word, do you see the green Wf-icon or is there a Wordfast menu beneath the Help-menu?
If so, just load a Word-doc and click on the green icon. You will get a row of green icons. First you click on the right square which looks like an "f". Then you click on New TM and proceed according to your source and target language, the language code are in the manual.
When you have saved your TM, you click on the arrow down-icon or press Alt+Home. The rest is easy.
You can also load a Trados Demo and look, how Trados is to be used in Word. The priciple is the same, only that Wf does not use an external Workbench and 200 Mb of program-code, only 1,5 Mb.

Regards
Heinrich


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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 10:26
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Wordfast Apr 22, 2006

Yes, Heinrich, I can do these things. What I don't understand is what good is the program to me if it doesn't refer me to terms and phrases I've already translated?

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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 10:26
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Translation Memory Apr 22, 2006

Here's what one of Sonja's sources says:

"A translator first supplies a source text (that is, a text to be translated) to the translation memory. The program will then scan the text, trying to find segments in its database that it will use to generate a partly translated output text. This text is presented to the translator for review. The translator can accept the suggestion, reject it or make modifications and use the modified version. In this case, the modified version is recorded and saved in the database."

So I need to know how to create a database in Wordfast. Is that what's referred to as alignment?


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Claudia Alvis  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 10:26
Spanish
+ ...
Metatexis Apr 22, 2006

When I first downloaded Wordfast, I thought it was too complicated. Years later, after trying several CAT tools, I've come to realize that I just didn't like Wordfast. I don't know why, but I still don't.

I tried Metatexis as an alternative to Wordfast, and I loved it. Even though it's a separate program--not just an add-on like WF, it's fully integrated into MS-Word. It also has an Alignment tool, and IMHO, it's the most user-friendly CAT tools. The manual is priceless

You can download a demo version that'll work with no restrictions for 2 monts--I think.

http://www.metatexis.com/

Good luck,

Claudia


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Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:26
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
Follow the training anyway Apr 22, 2006

Hi Kim,

Just follow the training anyway and throw away the TM and the glossary afterwards. You can translate into German, if you like, Wordfast doesn't care.

Once you know the basics you can use Wordfast on a real translation, and create a real translation memory and real glossaries. Only when you have done this, start thinking about "leveraging" all the material you have.

You might want to convert your glossaries to a format Wordfast can use directly. That's easy. And you might want to use your existing translations to create translation memories. Wait a couple of days before you do this. Aligning a source document with a target document and creating TUs from the segments by cleaning them up into a TM, is something you shouldn't do before you have grasped the meaning of what I said before the comma.

Creating TUs the normal way is much easier. Once you have created a TM, TUs will be added automatically to the TM every time you use Wordfast to translate. Wordfast will be proposing translations before you know it.

Good luck,
Gerard


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Trudy Peters  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:26
German to English
+ ...
I'm in the same boat as Kim Apr 22, 2006

Gerard,

you say, you might want to convert your glossaries to a format Wordfast can use directly. That's easy.

Care to elaborate?

I got my license a few years ago when it was still free, but didn't play with it long enough to make much progress. I would now like to get serious about it I wish someone could sit next to me and show me hands-on.


I hope I can reactivate my license without having to pay for it now.


[Edited at 2006-04-22 21:51]


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 18:26
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Glossaries Apr 23, 2006

You open the Wf-window by clicking the f-symbol. Then you click on the Terminology tab and select your glossary. The glossary should be a 2-column table saved as text.
You can add new entries when translating using the shortkey ctrl+alt+g.

I don't use glossaries, for me the context search is sufficient. I keep all my TMs in one folder, so Wf can search them all.

No translation tool knows more than what you have put into it yourself previously.

As a new user the most difficult step is usually the installation. I like Wordfast because it does not require to click through a lot of steps at the beginning like Metatexis.

About reactivating: If you have obtained your registration more than three years ago you could try to contact the man at the wordfast home page and explain the situation, that you never have used Wf really. For one registration fee it is possible to get new keys for 4 installations. You have to know the original key and the mail address you used at registration.

Usually all problems with wf can be solved in one of the usergroups at Yahoo.
The main list resides at:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/wordfast/


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Benno Groeneveld  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:26
English to Dutch
+ ...
Since I still consider the computer a glorified typewriter Apr 23, 2006

my approach to Wordfast has been a little different.

I don't expect it to do too much, just present the text to be translated one sentence at a time (so I don't miss anything, a problem when I print out a text and translate from that printout). Anything else is gravy.

Among the gravy: Wf keeps the formating in &^%^& Word (a vastly inferior wordprocessor compared to WordPerfect, where you at least can see the formatting, but apparently the world doesn't care how inferior a wordprocessor is). And it remembers sentences close to or identical to what you've translated earlier.

That's all, and that's all I need. Anything else would just be a burden on my brain that I don't need, I have enough baggage/junk in my mind already.


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Sonja Tomaskovic  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:26
English to German
+ ...
Yes Apr 23, 2006


So I need to know how to create a database in Wordfast. Is that what's referred to as alignment?


That's exactly what it means. Just think about it: how will a piece of software "know" from itself how you translated certain terms or phrases in the past if you don't feed it with that information? After all, we are still talking about a piece of software, and not a completely automatic robot that can - above all - read your mind.

The process in which you create translation memories (i.e., the "databases") is called alignment. As I mentioned before, this is a time-consuming process, and you may want to skip that step altogether, especially if you don't have the time for it.

At the moment, Wordfast can't do the alignment process itself. You will have to download an utility that is called PlusTools (available from the same website as Wordfast, and created by the same person who programmed Wordfast). Basically this will take you more time because you will have to read a manual (again), and try to understand what is going on. I am not sure you really want to do that at the moment.

Instead, why don't you start at point zero, with empty translation memories (the databases), on a fairly repetitive text and see the result for yourself. I am not sure that Wordfast can actually help you in your daily work, especially if you have managed to do without a CAT tool up to now.

All I can recommend is to just find out what a CAT tool (in general) can do for you, and whether the effort of both learning a new software tool and a new translation technique is worth your time. You may actually find out it is not, in which case any of the advice given above may just not be helpful to you.

Good luck.

Sonja


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Oliver Walter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:26
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
A bit more explanation Apr 23, 2006

Sonja Tomaskovic wrote:
The process in which you create translation memories (i.e., the "databases") is called alignment. As I mentioned before, this is a time-consuming process, and you may want to skip that step altogether, especially if you don't have the time for it.
Sonja

The TM (translation memory) is the database of existing segment pairs (pairs of sentences source and target). It is (in Wordfast's case) a text file that you can read and edit (carefully!) with a simple text editor such as Windows Notepad, although this is not the normal way of managing a TM.
You can use alignment if you already have a source text and its translation. Alignment enables you to confirm or adjust which sentence in the target text is the translation of which sentence in the source text. Another short discussion here: http://www.proz.com/topic/45473. If you don't use alignment, you start with an empty TM. As you progress through your translation work, Wordfast gradually adds source-target pairs to the TM. Each time you complete the translation of one segment (jargon for sentence, but may not always be exactly a grammatical sentence), Wordfast adds this pair to the TM, presents you with the next source segment and searches the TM for a segment that is "similar" to it (to the percentage of match that you can specify. The default value is 75% but I suggest using a lower value. It is set as "Fuzzy threshold" in Setup-General that you can access from the "wordfast" icon (the icon that contains the letter f). If it finds a "good enough" match it puts it in the box where your translation goes and you can accept it or amend it just as if you had typed it there in the first place and now want to amend it before considering it final.
BTW, this is probably obvious, but:
wherever the Wordfast manual says "analogy rate" it means what I would call "closeness of match". I've already told Yves Champollion of this but he doesn't seem to believe me.
HTH
Oliver

[Edited at 2006-04-23 15:37]


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Milan Condak  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:26
English to Czech
TM Gratis Apr 23, 2006

Kim Metzger wrote:

Hello - I'm totally new to CAT tools but decided to see if I could figure out how to use one. I downloaded Wordfast 5 and am using MS Word 2002.

So far I am completely lost. I tried the training manual for beginners, but the sample exercises for English speakers require the user to translate into French, so the sample lessons are useless to me.

I've been studying the User Manual and getting nowhere.



You can "translate" = Alt+Down through some prepared files + translation memories

http://www.condak.net/gratis/index.htm

You can choose your target language. Later (later!!) you can create TM by alignment.

Milan


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