A Computer Journal For Translation Professionals

This edition of the Tool Box Journal provided to you by
Issue 22-1-333
(the three hundred thirty third edition) 
PARALELA brings the state-of-the-art technologies to the preparation and processing of parallel texts in order to create bilingual data, such as translation memory files for professional translation services and linguistic training data for MT engines. Paralela uses the most advanced AI models to automatically align translation pairs in any combination of 110 languages from unstructured and unordered streams of content, including documents that may be only vaguely related. It magically captures the linguistic similarities among sentences in different languages and creates nearly perfect alignment, ranged by similarity score.
GT4T's File Translator
I have written about the little MT app GT4T a number of times (you can get a good overview from this interview in the ATA Chronicle, or from several articles in the Tool Box Journal archives).

Dallas Cao, its creator, recently encouraged me to look at it again after a couple of years, and I'm glad I did because it has indeed changed quite a bit (nothing like an eager single developer to guarantee a tool's rapid development).

In fact, it has changed so much that its very purpose has shifted a bit.

Let me explain: GT4T used to be an app that gave you simultaneous access to the suggestions of a lot of different machine translation engines (shockingly many; in fact, you'd be wise to limit your searches only to engines that will likely benefit you because the more engines you consult for suggestions, the more you'll pay). There were many ways to tweak the results of those engines, including filtering and improving the machine translation suggestions via your own glossaries. The tool could be called up from within any Windows or MacOS program by highlighting the translatable data and displaying the various translation suggestions in a separate window. Selecting one would replace the previously highlighted term or phrase.

I always really liked the little tool, but I also always hoped it would be more deeply integrated into our workflows, like responding to features such as autocomplete or offering other ways to mix and match entries from different engines.

Dallas has decided to take the tool in another direction, however, one that some of you may find very interesting.

Fortunately from my perspective, he has left all the previously mentioned features intact, but he has focused mainly on the File Translator component. As the name suggests, this is a feature that allows you to upload one or several files at a time (formats include MS and Hancom Office, various text-based files, and InDesign files) and then translate them by replacing the text of the original language or by creating bilingual files. Furthermore, the tool also supports the following:

  • files that are originally bilingual (as in coming from translation environment tools including Trados, Wordfast, Cafetran, and Déjà Vu, or XLIFF files from many other tools)
  • highly tagged files (such as markdown files)
  • PDF files that are image-based or images with text (they're being sent to the Shanghai-based Duhui Keji, which uses a combination of OCR converters that support EN, ZH-CN/TW , FR, DE, IT, RU, ES, KO, PT, DA, NL, FI, NO, and SV)
  • language-specific options (such as automatically inserted language-specific smart quotes, a choice of level of honorific language in Japanese, or spaces surrounding non-Chinese characters within Chinese text)
  • industry-specific engines (which, in the case of Western languages, largely refers to Systran's different domains)

It's also possible to delete "AT" and "MT" tags in Trados and Wordfast projects (if you prefer to hide that you have used machine translation).

Dallas summarizes some of the features like this: "All in all, GT4T tries to solve small and yet acute 'pain points' of MT for each target language." I like that.

GT4T never had particularly strong documentation, but it now has a tool-internal help caption feature that tells you what will happen when you point to an option. That also is helpful.
The Tech-Savvy Interpreter 2.0 - How to use a tablet for consecutive note-taking (Column by Josh Goldsmith)
In past articles, we've discussed why we love tablets for interpreting and shared some of our favorite tech tools for practicing consec.

Now it's time to dive into how you can actually use a tablet for consecutive note-taking.

Unsure about using a digital notepad? Wondering how to take notes on your tablet or take it to the next level with multitasking? Looking for the best consecutive note-taking app?

Read on!

Why use a digital notepad?

When we talk about using a tablet to take notes, we sometimes hear questions like, "Does that mean you type your notes? Why would you do that?"

The truth is that taking notes on a tablet is incredibly similar to taking notes on paper. You just grab your stylus, open an app, and start taking notes!

It takes a little getting used to, but offers tons of additional benefits.

For example, you never have to worry about running out of paper or ink again. (Make sure to charge your tablet and stylus before your assignment. 😉)

Tablets are highly portable, and allow you to carry everything you need -- meeting documents, dictionaries, glossaries -- on a single device.

It's also easy to store and organize past notes. If you work for a client regularly, you can quickly find the notes from your last assignment.

In our research, we found that clients find interpreters who use tablets to be more professional and memorable.

Plus, you can easily view meeting documents, glossaries, fact sheets, and other materials alongside your notes using multi-tasking mode. More on that below.

Taking notes

We think the easiest way to understand how you can use a tablet for interpreting is to see it in action. So why not check out this demo video?

As you can see, our notes are almost identical to the notes we'd write on pen and paper, with a few bonus features.

When we reach the end of a page, we scroll down rather than flipping to the next page. This unlimited scrolling makes it even easier to deliver a fluent rendition of the original speech.

Custom ink colors, pen types and stroke widths let you tailor your stylus to your needs. It's also easy to switch between writing utensils. For example, we often switch to a different color or the highlighter to separate between sections.

Some applications let you strike out text to erase it quickly. Or you can upload a custom paper layout, which is perfect for interpreters who like taking notes on grid paper or working with two columns or a margin line.

Finally, digital bookmarks can help you jump back to the beginning of a speech or a specific passage.

Notes and multitasking

As we mentioned earlier, it's easy to use the split screen feature on your tablet to view your notes alongside other materials.

For example, you can put your notepad on one side of the screen, and a list of abbreviations and keywords -- or a fact sheet you've prepared -- on the other side.

Alternately, view your meeting document alongside your notes. This is great for meetings where your clients are discussing a document. If it's a drafting meeting, you can annotate the document on one side of the screen and take notes on the other. You can even use different colors on the reference document for suggestions made by different speakers.

Put a dictionary or glossary alongside your notes. With a bit of practice, you might even be able to quickly look up a term while taking notes or interpreting. This is easiest with the incremental search built into glossary management tools, which displays terms from your glossaries with just a few keystrokes. (More on that in our Glossaries for Interpreters 2.0 course.)

What is the best consecutive app?

On most tablets, you can use the generic note-taking app to jot down a few ideas. But for full-fledged consecutive notes with all the bells and whistles -- like custom paper, vertical scrolling, smooth page turns, bookmarks, and easy filing options -- it's worth getting a dedicated note-taking app.

On the iPad, we've been huge fans of Notability for many years. It offers all the features listed above, plus you can record the speaker while you take notes. The audio recordings and what you write are kept in sync, which allows you to jump to any point in your notes and listen back, or even use the recording for a hybrid interpreting technique called Sim-Consec.

Our default recommendation for Android has been Bamboo Paper, a simple note-taking app that is great for trying out digital note-taking, but might leave you wanting more as you build up your skills. If your tablet is made by Samsung, give Samsung Notes a try. The app has seen huge improvements recently and now packs countless features into an easy-to-use interface. It even lets you record audio that is time-synced with your notes.

On Windows devices, Microsoft OneNote seems to be the best option available right now. While it doesn't have the "endless vertical paper" we like, many interpreters appreciate the big canvas that OneNote provides. You'll definitely want to take it for a spin.

This article barely scratches the surface of how to use a tablet for consecutive interpreting. If you're an iPad user and want a more hands-on experience, our on-demand course, Cutting-Edge Consecutive: A fresh take on notes, is for you! And we'll be running a live edition of the course from January 17 -- February 4. 😄

Please note: Given the swift pace of technological evolution, these recommendations are likely to change over time, but we'll endeavor to keep this post updated!

Josh Goldsmith is a UN and EU accredited translator and interpreter working from Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese and Catalan into English. A passionate educator, Josh splits his time between interpreting, researching and teaching through, which empowers language professionals to make the most of technology.
¿Quieres especializarte en dos de los campos que más se traducen?

Visita la Academia de los Grandes Traductores e infórmate sobre los cursos Traducción Jurídica Profesional y Traducción Financiera Profesional. Convocatoria abierta del 3 al 24 de enero.
Six ways to save time in 2022 (Column by Dorothee Racette)
I hope your new year is off to a busy start, or better yet, to just the right amount of work -- enough to earn money, but not so much that you feel completely overwhelmed.

Are there any major business milestones you want to reach by the end of 2022? Even if you don't make "new year, new you" resolutions, it's a good idea to put a few important goals in writing: It's a proven fact that you are more likely to follow through on objectives that you have detailed in writing.

Here are six practices that can help you save time (and stress) in the year to come:

1. Don't let the day start you

As humans, we have a built-in clock that is guided by daylight and certain chemicals released in the body. With individual variations, these factors make the morning hours our most focused and creative time.

Few people have the luxury of starting their morning by meditating on a beach, but there are many other steps to control how your day starts. Depending on your circumstances, mornings can involve family obligations, pet care and the inevitable catching up on work messages. If you receive work projects from other countries, you probably wake up to urgent messages from clients in different time zones. While it may be tempting to send replies while sipping your first cup of coffee, taking just a little time for yourself sets a different tone for the entire day.

At a minimum, spend a few minutes to think about the day ahead. Such a review can include deadlines and project obligations, but also commitments to family and friends or planning for breaks and exercise. Visualizing the entire day helps reduce stress and improves work quality.

Postponing your interaction with messages and devices also gives you a sense of control. Set firm boundaries so your clients know when to expect a response from you and don't allow client communication to disrupt other morning activities in your home.

2. Stop thinking of productivity as a "one size fits all" solution

Everyone's productivity patterns are different. Instead of holding yourself to an ideal level of productivity (hint: it doesn't exist), make it a point to understand your own work preferences. For example, how long can you focus on a given task before you need a break, and how accurate are your time predictions? How reliable are your time estimates for work projects, and what tends to throw them off? If you struggle with a brain-based condition such as anxiety or ADHD, it may also be helpful to know what distracts you and how you can prevent sensory overload. Since motivation is important for completing tasks on time, you can also play around to learn which incentives work best for you.

Once you've identified your most productive time windows of the day, protect them carefully against external intrusions (family phone calls etc.). You can always complete tasks that don't require full concentration in your less productive hours. 

3. Set a daily work routine

Routines are activity sequences that reduce stress because they don't require much attention. A good example would be the difference between a commuter route you drive every day and trying to reach an unknown destination in heavy traffic – knowing and anticipating certain events can have a calming effect. It may not always be easy, but strive to make your business working hours as predictable as possible. Set a start and end time of your business day and close office doors or shut down computers after a certain hour to avoid turning yourself into a non-stop working machine. To help offset your computer time, your daily routine should include regular breaks and outdoor time as well.

4. Establish a value unit for your time

I have talked about the economic value of your time in this column before. Because you run a business, your time is literally worth money. For example, if you can earn amount x in one hour of translation/interpreting, it makes little sense for you to spend two or three hours creating social media content or laboring over your tax return. It may be in your best interest to generate income in those hours and to outsource other tasks.

Establishing an approximate monetary value of your time will also make it easier to reject unprofitable work offers or evaluate volunteer activities that are not a good fit for your work activities (volunteering in the morning, see above).

5. Be honest with yourself

Looking at bottom lines and asking hard questions can be scary, I get it. At the same time, it makes sense to explore the profitability of your business, especially if you offer a range of different services. If you consider your time an investment (which it certainly is), it makes sense to analyze your return on investment.

Here are some questions you can ask to identify optimum time use:

  • Which of my business activities are the best use of my time?
  • How can I concentrate on my most profitable activities?
  • Is my time doing (…) well spent?

It goes without saying that money is only one of many possible ROIs for your time. Of course, work satisfaction, living your values and actively contributing to your community are equally important.

6. Spot time wasters a mile away

There are many time wasters in our lives, some avoidable, and others less so. Here are three big items you can control.

Social media: Most Americans spend an average of 2-3 hours a day in social media platforms. Maintaining a presence in select platforms to promote your business doesn't have to come with hours of scrolling. Set clear boundaries for social media use to avoid wasting precious time. That includes disabling notifications and closing browser tabs while you work.

Distractions: It takes our brain up to 20 minutes to refocus after every distraction. You can't avoid all distractions, but you can learn about your own sensitivities and take preventive steps to help you concentrate. You can also set distraction rules in your own household to gain more high-quality working time.  

Clutter: Not being able to find things and/or data is annoying and wastes enormous amounts of time. Designated spaces/directories/file names can save you hours of frustration.

I realize none of these suggestions can be implemented on the spot, so pick and choose whatever makes sense and get in touch if you want to learn more!

Dorothee Racette, CT has been a full-time freelance GER < > EN translator for over 25 years. She served as ATA President from 2011 to 2013. In 2014, she established her own coaching business, Take Back My Day, to help individuals and organizations solve problems related to workflow and time management. As a certified productivity coach (CPC), she now divides her time between translating and coaching. Her book Complete What You Started (2020) provides a blueprint for carrying big projects across the finish line. You can read her blog at
Not sure how to start optimizing your business productivity? Book a short coaching appointment with Dorothee -- one topic, twenty minutes of conversation, to find your best action steps.
The Rebuttal
My friend and mentor Alan Melby asked me to let you know about the following. I'm more than happy to oblige:

As you are all very probably aware, Jaap van der Meer published a provocative article in the July-August 2021 issue of Multilingual magazine claiming that the "mixed model" (nearly free raw MT on the one side and paid human translation from TSPs on the other) is not sustainable and that traditional TSPs will soon disappear. I think it is safe to say that this claim and others that Jaap makes in his article have gotten a lot of attention in the world of translation, given Jaap's position as the head of TAUS.

Christopher Kurz and I co-authored a rebuttal, which was published in the November-December issue of Multilingual.

The article and rebuttal are available right here.

Jaap dismissed the rebuttal in one sentence during an interview, implying that Christopher and I do not know what is really going on in the translation sector.

The editor of Multilingual tried to arrange a live debate in which Jaap and another person of his choosing would be on one side (anti mixed model) and Christopher and I would be on the other side (pro mixed model). Christopher and I were willing. Jaap declined to participate.

I then approached Bill Rivers, Chair of the North America regional center of FIT, last month about hosting a discussion about Jaap's claims, regardless of whether he chooses to participate. Bill approved the idea with the FIT North America board, and the discussion will take place on Thursday, January 20th, 1 pm Eastern Time in the form of a one-hour webinar.

Please consider registering for and attending the webinar. See here for a description of the webinar and the link to register. The first five hundred to follow the link will be able to register. The webinar will be recorded for those who are not able to register and participate.
Translators (noun, plural): Creative people who know how to use technology and sell processes
The week before Christmas I was invited to the memoQ talks podcast, and while I don't usually mention these kinds of conversations here, I listened to it again the other day and thought some of you might enjoy it. I spoke with Mark Shriner, memoQ's Strategic Sales Director, and perhaps it was simply the pre-holiday atmosphere in the air, but it ended up being an enjoyable conversation. We discussed why translators tend to be creative people, what the different MT technologies mean from a translator's point of view, the differences between editing a person's text and that of a machine, better ways of using MT beyond post-editing, how to find out whether post-editing is right for you, and why not only linguistic expertise but also expertise in how to put together processes for a job and a client are a marketable asset for professional translators.

You can see the whole interview right here.
New password for the Tool Box archive
As a subscriber to the Premium version of this journal you have access to an archive of Premium journals going back to 2007.

You can access the archive right here. This month the user name is toolbox and the password is mensakakuro.

New user names and passwords will be announced in future journals.
The last word on the Tool Box Journal
If you would like to promote this electronic journal by placing a link on your website, I will in turn mention your website in a future edition of the Tool Box Journal. Just paste the code you find here into the HTML code of your webpage, and the little icon that is displayed on that page with a link to my website will be displayed.

If you are subscribed to this journal with more than one email address, it would be great if you could unsubscribe redundant addresses through the links Constant Contact offers below.

If you are interested in reprinting one of the articles in this journal for promotional purposes, please contact me for information about pricing.

© 2022 International Writers' Group