A Computer Journal For Translation Professionals
This edition of the Tool Box Journal provided to you by
Trados, the leading translation software provider
(the three hundred thirtieth edition)
Lost in Translation (yes, really!)
Years ago, I tweeted a screenshot of a Google News page that listed
the most popular stories of the day, all related to the keyword
"translation." All, and I mean all, of those that day were titled "Lost
in Translation." They weren't even about the same story, but -- as we
all too painfully know -- "Lost in Translation" seems to be the wittiest
cliché journalists can come up with when translation is involved.
Of course, the media's use of this platitude is inaccurate because
they're trying to indicate that translations are measured along a
hit-or-miss paradigm, where "wrong" translations are the norm and
"perfect" translations are rare, that elusive utopia that translators
(and machine translation engines!) presumably strive to attain
As working translators, we know that a "perfect" translation is
neither a goal nor a possible reality. We know that complete and linear
transfer of form and meaning between two languages is not achievable, no
matter how closely those languages might be related. So, is there
something that is "lost in translation"? Yes, always. But successful
translation is still possible and translation work is still enjoyable
because so much can be gained in translation as well. And it's in the
balance between the two that a translation is successful. How is that
achieved? By the ongoing internal -- and sometimes external --
negotiation processes carried out by the translator or translation team.
That is what makes it possible to generate a text that becomes
equivalent in its expressive force and meaning by transformation, by
inevitably adding changed and new elements. This is what this translator
is striving for.
Learning is the key to growth (Column by Dorothee Racette)
to run a successful online conference for thousands of participants:
The design and tech behind the Innovation in Translation Summit (Column
by Josh Goldsmith)
Encountering Bare-Bones Christianity
New password for the Tool Box archive
The last rord on the Tool Box Journal
Trados Studio 2021 Service Release 2 (SR2) is coming soon!
Trados Studio 2021 SR2 will add many new features and enhancements.
New functionality includes support for emojis during translation.
Enjoy these updates on the desktop app or in the cloud via Trados Live.
I'm not sure what I can say about the Innovation in Translation
Summit without sounding a little mushy or completely hyperbolic, but let
me tell you, it was an event that greatly surpassed Nora Díaz's, Josh
Goldsmith's, and my expectations. I would even venture to say it set a
new benchmark for virtual conferences in the translation space.
I know that many of you were part of the summit, so I won't go into
great detail about what we all experienced. (If you missed it for some
reason, you can still purchase access to recordings of all sessions and
panels right here
.) Here are some of the takeaways that I found most meaningful:
We're good at creating communities.
The online community forum was busy, funny, personal, and at the same
time very business-oriented. In fact, several people mentioned that the
online community coupled with the summit's networking sessions were the
most productive aspects of the conference. In a way this shouldn't be
surprising. Who doesn't want community after so many months of
isolation? But I think what makes our ability to build community special
is the fact that, while we work in the same space, we (typically) don't
compete, and therefore we don't have to be agenda-driven in our
community efforts -- aside, of course, from the agenda to build
communities of more or less equals. To me this is one of the great
positive traits of the world of translation, and one that became very
apparent during our summit.
- Along the same lines, I was struck by the general ability of so many of you to turn your own vulnerability into an asset for others.
The prime example of that for me was a recorded conversation between
Veronika Demichelis and Marina Ilari about juggling work and kids at
home. Rather than bragging about their (obvious!) superpowers to
successfully deal with this challenge, they talked about the many times
they have fallen short and encouraged others that that's okay.
- While conversations about machine translation did not occupy the
majority of sessions and panels (by design), it was of course discussed
in a number of sessions. We were lucky to listen to very distinguished
voices from academia (both in relation to MT and AI), think-tanks and
consulting companies, technology developers and practitioners. The
overwhelming consensus on the future of translators: bright! At the
same time, experts agree that machine translation will continue to
develop and thrive. One interesting comparison (by Arle Lommel) pointed out the rise of Excel 35
years ago and the assumed demise of accountants, when in reality there
are not only more accountants today than back then, but in much more
high-powered positions, rising from folks who added up numbers to people
who project economic developments and futures.
Pricing is up to you as much as to your client.
We heard from a number of translators who very successfully went in the
opposite direction of the low-ball pricing that is dictating the
pricing narrative for many others.
Specialization is important, but it's equally important to specialize in more than one field. Several speakers reported on how to branch out and make yourself more immune to downturns in the economy. (#pandemic)
Self-care is one of the cornerstones to success.
I loved that this was one of the threads that connected so many of the
presentations. Especially at this time when so much seems uncertain, you
will need to take care of yourself.
Be strategic in how you market and present yourself. However you market yourself, do it consistently and intentionally.
- And here was the message that hit especially close to home for me: "Young translators: don't listen to the old generation of translators!"
It's no secret why this hit a tender spot for me (and, by the way, this
was a quote from Renato Beninatto on a panel exclusively made up of old
farts like him and me). I think it's so true, though. Translation has
undergone a lot of changes, and it might make sense to listen with
discernment to people who use old paradigms to evaluate the world around
I realize that this does not do justice to everything that happened
during the days of the summit, but these are some of my most valuable
I would like to point to two upcoming events that I encourage you to attend as well.
First is the ATA conference
of course. It's a hybrid event this year, so you can attend either in
person or virtually. I'm very much looking forward to being there in
person (in fact, I can't wait!). If you are also planning to be there,
please bring any dictionaries that you aren't using anymore. As we've
done twice before, we're going to have a "Dictionary Exchange" that
enables us to gift those unused dictionaries to colleagues who might
just be starting out -- or branching out. This article
describes some of the excitement of the first time we did this.
I would also like to invite you to register for Localization World.
Unless you're really new to translation, you know that LocWorld is one
of the flagship conferences in the translation and localization space.
So far, its main target audience has been technology developers,
translation buyers, and LSPs. This marks the first time that there's
also a translator track with super interesting sessions. (Full
disclosure: I helped put together the track.) The sessions deal with:
- How to transition from linguist to business owner
- How to successfully ask for better prices
- Job opportunities in the localization industry
- The role AI will (continue to) play for translators
- How to deal well with project managers
You can find the complete program here
in which you'll find names of colleagues that you're likely familiar with. 😁
One of the reasons that LocWorld might feel out of reach for
translators is that it's rather expensive. So this year, the organizers
have agreed to offer an all-day pass for translators for $9
This means you can go to all the sessions of that day (Thursday,
October 21) -- not just the ones from the translator track, but all
networking, exhibitions, etc. Aside from the obvious value of the
sessions, this might be a tremendous opportunity to mix and mingle with
some folks we don't usually get to hang out with.
See you there.
Learning is the key to growth (Column by Dorothee Racette)
"The brain is designed for homeostasis," say neuroscientists who
study human capacity of learning new concepts. If you've ever worked in a
place where people clung to outdated workflows because "we've always
done it that way," you know exactly what that means -- while familiar
and comfortable patterns help avoid stress and effort, staying with
tried-and-true principles for too long also has a downside.
Translators and interpreters are confronted with new materials and
topics all the time, and daily use of more than one language is known to
promote healthy aging. Our familiarity with research gives us an
advantage, but a conscious approach to learning can do much more to
balance our business activities with well-being. Here are three
work-related beliefs that can turn into traps:
Success means being overworked
Freelancers frequently equate unrealistic and unreasonable
workloads with success. If you find yourself hustling from one project
to the next, with few breaks in between, you probably feel too busy to
attend to a healthy lifestyle or to learning new concepts. Filling every
available time slot with work is not the most effective way of running a
business. If we use output volume as our measure of success, we're
leaving significant business potential and money on the table.
A client base must be stable and growing
While retail business benefits from growing and retaining a large
customer base, the same is not necessarily true for a freelance work
model. If your goal is to add profitable new accounts and find clients
who treat you with respect, it doesn't help to stay with clients that
offer large volumes and mediocre conditions. Treating your client base
as a portfolio that can be adjusted and maintained will help you
leverage growth without having to work excessive hours.
Work-life balance is for later
While we're in the bubble of processing one project after another,
it's easy to arrive at the conclusion that fun is for other people and
that meeting friends or going on a bike ride will, yet again, have to
wait. Foregoing work-life balance may be acceptable in exceptional
circumstances, but sacrificing the things that make life more enjoyable
-- socializing, eating well, spending time outdoors -- cannot become a
Dedicating time to learning offers solutions for breaking out of
these traps. As linguists, we need to constantly adapt to new demands
and new discussions to remain relevant in our marketplace. Our knowledge
about specific developments in defined subject areas is our expertise,
which can be leveraged to attract more profitable clients and emphasize
quality over quantity. However, experts don't acquire their knowledge
overnight. They study, read pertinent publications, engage in peer
discussions, and strive to understand what is happening in specific
fields. The truism that "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" has been
thoroughly disproven. Our brain's ability to create new connections (at
any age) is the key to breaking out of patterns that no longer serve
What can you do to adopt a learning mindset? The first step is to
revise your own views about learning. Old-school approaches with
negative feedback and scolding for errors are not a good fit for adults.
In contrast, curiosity ("I wonder how this works")
is a much better guide. It is also useful to know how you learn best,
which depends on your preferred processing mode. Perhaps book learning
is hard for you because you prefer to listen to content, or you need to
move around as you explore new concepts. In the Internet age, we have a
wide array of content formats and offers available, including the right
match for your learning style.
Here are a few pointers for integrating learning into your workday:
- Start small. Make a list of areas to investigate and spend a few
minutes exploring at least one of them every day. Keep it light: there
won't be a test.
- Play around. Click on a new feature in your software, attend a
conference session in a field you know little about, or listen to a
random TED talk. What makes you marvel?
- Have fun. Learning as an adult should never be drudgery. Pick
materials, courses or fields that truly interest you and offer new
insights. Give yourself permission to quit presentations that keep
droning on or are poorly designed, but stay with your effort to continue
- Find others. Another benefit of the Internet age is that you can find other people who share your interests.
Chances are, you used to have hobbies and interests that have not
received much attention lately. Perhaps this expertise is worth
revisiting and expanding? You'll never know if you don't try.
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 takebackmyday.com/blog.
A while back I was made aware of an announcement by Ooona, maker of the cloud-based subtitle translation tool Ooona Translate
that they're working on an integration with memoQ (and, yes, as the
management team assured me, the translation tool is only one of many
tools and technologies Ooona offers). I was excited about that because,
though I'm not a subtitle translator myself, I've sat through too many
presentations of subtitle translation tools that left me wondering which
century I was in. No efficient linguistic features, let alone features
like translation memories or termbases.
Now, at this point there are some traditional translation environment tools, including Trados, memoQ, and Star Transit, that handle subtitle translation reasonably well, but they don't always fit into the supply chain of the subtitling industry.
So, it's not too surprising that I and others were excited about Ooona's announcement.
It turns out, though, that the only feature available at this point
is a proof of concept, and not a particularly impressive one at that.
During a short product demo, all it could do at this point was bring in
translation memory matches within the Ooona interface via the memoQ server -- but no terminology, no linguistic QA, nor any of the other features that make memoQ such
a rich translation environment tool. This is not to say that the
product is not going in the right direction. While the Ooona team didn't
want to commit to a specific release date for a public product with a
much richer integration of memoQ features, they felt pretty certain that
it would be at some point next year.
I'll keep you updated.
Another thing I would like to keep you (and myself) updated on is
Ooona's infant subtitling certification program for subtitle translators
and other suppliers. You can read a bit about it in this announcement
but I'm looking forward to my meeting with the person in charge of its
design this next week to hear in person what the parameters of the
certification are -- well knowing that translation certification is a
really hard nut to crack.
The Tech-Savvy Interpreter 2.0 - How
to run a successful online conference for thousands of participants:
The design and tech behind the Innovation in Translation Summit (Column by Josh Goldsmith)
Online events offer unparalleled opportunities to bring together colleagues from across the globe.
Yet we've all attended plenty that were unsatisfying, draining and felt like a waste of time.
This post takes you behind the scenes of two dynamic online summits with thousands of happy participants.
The secret to success: Don't replicate in-person events. Innovate.
As we set out to design the Innovation in Interpreting Summit in February and the Innovation in Translation Summit this October, we wanted to identify the essential parts of a worthwhile conference experience.
With this in mind, we crafted events that fit the time constraints of busy professionals and were accessible worldwide.
Read on to discover how we designed the summits, why we picked our
tools, and how we used that toolbox to create two powerhouse online
We started from two key insights: Language professionals are busy, and our community is scattered across the globe.
Running a traditional conference -- with longer presentations
scheduled throughout the day -- made no sense. What time zone would we
pick? Any decision would inevitably force some colleagues to wake up
before the crack of dawn and others to burn the midnight oil.
Instead, we decided to produce most summit presentations
beforehand. This offered unique benefits: We could avoid tech glitches,
offer polished videos, prepare captions to boost accessibility, and
prepare accompanying worksheets to help attendees take action.
On the tech front, we recorded interviews with Riverside.fm
, a powerful web-based tool for capturing high-quality audio and video. We made screen recordings using Capto
, and edited videos in Adobe Premiere
(PC), iMovie (Mac) and LumaFusion
We used our favorite semi-automatic subtitling tool, Sonix.ai
, to automatically generate captions, then manually edited and reviewed them. (You can learn more about Sonix in this techforword insiders webinar
We then used a script to convert captions into transcripts, pasted them
into a document template, and created PDFs for our all-access pass,
which we call the Power Pack.
Live events and community
A fully pre-recorded summit, however, would lack the spontaneity and networking opportunities of an in-person conference.
So we used two more tools to create fun live events and a dynamic online community.
For our networking and co-working events, Zoom
's breakout rooms excelled at pairing up attendees. The insiders
helped beta-test the ideal group size and conditions: 15 minutes for a
group of four and six minutes for one-on-one speed networking. For
co-working, we found that setting goals, leaving the camera on, and
checking in at the end of the session reliably pave the way for success.
For panels, we used Zoom webinars to create a polished viewing
experience. Since Zoom webinar licenses can get pricey for thousands of
attendees, we invited Power Pack holders to join us on Zoom and
livestreamed sessions to techforword's YouTube channel
Creating a thriving community for attendees and speakers that went beyond live events was key. Enter Circle.so
the incredible platform where we also host the insiders community. We
built momentum with daily prompts in the two weeks before the summit,
and set up introductions, FAQs, and hangout spaces, the Faces and Spaces of Translation showcase
, a thread to ask every speaker questions, and even Jost's dad jokes forum
Circle's flexibility allowed us to set up different space layouts, pin
important announcements, quickly add gorgeous cover images, and create a
private Speakers' Corner. Plus, it offered a member directory, private
individual and group messages, adjustable notification settings, and an
iOS app to connect on the go. We're huge fans - and based on the
hundreds of posts and comments, it seems like you were, too!
The summit website
We also set up pages for each presentation, embedded YouTube videos
with captions and the discussion thread about that presentation from
the summit community, and added links to download the worksheet, share
appreciation with the speaker, or upgrade to the Power Pack.
Since we expected thousands of website views at any given time, we use Squarespace
to build and host: it automatically scales up and is also incredibly user-friendly.
For the summit timers, banners and registration form, we picked a robust, easy-to-use tool called ConvertBox
, which integrates seamlessly with our email marketing tool, allowing us to customize each user's experience.
A mega-event involves hundreds of graphics. At techforword, we're huge fans of Canva
a feature-packed free online design tool. We created image templates
galore - for social media graphics, YouTube thumbnails, sponsor
graphics, website images, social media headers, handouts, and our speaker grid
- then duplicated and tweaked them with just a few clicks. We designed
over 200 graphics to feature our 36 speakers, 3 panels and 7 sponsors.
We scheduled dozens of social media posts using SocialBee
, which links up with Canva and our Facebook
accounts and lets us create post variations which we can use again and again.
And those fancy xl8.link short links? Jost and Alex set up that
translation-branded link shortener a few years ago, and we created both
xl8.link and tfw.rocks short links using Bl.ink
which offers dynamic links that reroute based on user language,
country, operating system, time of day, and tons more. (It's geeky, but
incredibly useful for creating easy-to-remember links! 🤓)
We host all techforword on-demand courses on Teachable
and the Power Pack was no exception. There is no perfect online course
platform, but Teachable offers a user-friendly interface, unlimited
video hosting, lecture and course duplication (essential for the Power
Pack, where we built a template and cloned it 26 times), tracking of
lecture completion, certificates, and single sign-on for Circle, our
The Power Pack also featured a dozen bonuses contributed by
speakers, including courses, e-books, webinars, tickets to live
workshops, and a month in the techforword insiders
program. We uploaded these materials - or instructions to access them - to the Power Pack.
Just like you, we don't want to sit at the computer after a long
day at work. We'd rather listen to courses, webinar recordings,
presentations or panel replays on the go with our favorite podcast
player. That's why we've been using HelloAudio
for the summit podcast, courses, webinars, and even a pop-up podcast to launch the Interpreter's Guide to Audio and Video
We took Power Pack payments through Thrivecart
which offers coupons, installment plans and robust affiliate tracking
and links up with Stripe, PayPal, and many of our other tools, including
Teachable. Online automation platform Zapier
enabled us to link up everything else. We also tracked our expenses, income and invoices with FreshBooks
, and logged time with Toggl
. (We practice what we preach! 😅)
Communication and coordination
The summit team included three co-hosts in three different
countries and time zones, a designer, a subtitler, and techforword's
fabulous assistant, Roxane.
This translated to thousands of tasks, big and small, which we tracked through one of the most tricked out Trello
boards you've ever seen.
We used Airtable
to brainstorm summit topics and speakers, collect presentations and
Power Pack contributions, schedule live sessions, collect sponsor
information and logos, track certificate requests, and create forms for
the student scholarship, community survey, and feedback. Our favorite
innovation, however, involves you: You wrote over 400 notes of
appreciation for our speakers, which we could share with a single link.
We turned to Google Drive
to collaboratively draft emails, panel outlines, and questions for
speakers, share resources with speakers, and store videos, worksheets,
transcripts, captions and tons more.
Our team communicated using Slack
and even fed our summit email into Slack using a shared inbox tool called MailClark
, which allows us to power through email together. We sent summit emails using ConvertKit
, a powerful email tool with customizable messages based on your preferences.
Finally, a special shout-out goes to Summit in a Box
which provided templates, guidelines and hours of training that served
as an excellent starting point for building two successful summits of
But a summit is about more than just the design, the tools, or the
figures. Most importantly, it was about the shared experience.
We were thrilled to bring together thousands of colleagues and
dozens of expert speakers and panelists for a truly transformative
Our takeaway: Keep learning, growing, building your networks, and of course, innovating.
This post includes affiliate
links. If you use them to purchase one of the snazzy tools we used to
run the summit, techforword will receive a small commission to help
support our work at no additional cost to you.
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 www.techforword.com, which empowers language professionals to make the most of technology.
Wish you could create a professional branded background for video calls in under 5 minutes?
You can - for free.
Today I had an interesting conversation with my friend Konstantin
Dranch. Konstantin has done many different things in and around
translation, and his latest endeavor is a company called Custom.MT
I think what the company does is interesting, and it's also
interesting to take note of what Konstantin is not (more on that later).
Custom.MT is a company that generates customized machine
translation engines and provides the required customer service in
implementing the MT engines and maintaining them.
Here's the Custom.MT process:
- They receive the TMX file(s) for the language combination in
question (recommended size is between 100,000 and 2 million translation
- They clean the TMX file (and anonymize it, if required).
- They use this data to train up to ten different engines (if available for the language combination).
- They evaluate the quality of the different engines (with or without the help of a company's in-house linguists).
- They select the one with the best quality and suitability for the
company's purpose (depending, for instance, on the company's existing
tool set and what MT engines that tool set supports).
- They train the in-house staff and continue to maintain the MT engine.
The idea behind this is that in-house MT specialists are expensive
and difficult to find, and that it's often cheaper (and safer) for an
LSP or translation buyer to go with an external partner with a track
record in building customized engines than to hire one of those elusive
specialists, especially if that external partner is tool- and MT
engine-agnostic and charges a relatively affordable annual price of
between $3,000 and $5,000 per year and language combination.
("Affordable" here stands in direct correlation to the number of words
that need to be translated and how much savings the MT engines are
likely to result in.)
Other services that Custom.MT also offers are building up or
acquiring training data in language combinations in which the client
might not own any data in or training with voice data.
Why do I tell you all of this? Well, for the LSP representatives
and translation buyers among you, this might present a feasible way of
approaching customized MT, but I really am telling you this because it's
an interesting example of a kind of company that did not exist too long
ago. And that in turn brings us to what Konstantin is not. He's not an
engineer. He hired engineers to build his company. His expertise lies in
his ideas, his understanding of the market, and his many contacts.
Kind of an encouraging story, isn't it?
Encountering Bare-Bones Christianity
This article is at the tail-end of this Tool Box Journal because it
talks about a new book I just published that really has nothing to do
with translation. It's called Encountering Bare-Bones Christianity, and
it's something I've been working on for a few years now.
In the introduction I say this:
"I've realized that though I've never been bashful to share that I have faith, I never actually explained my faith by communicating what specific differences it makes in my life."
And that's exactly what this rather personal book is about. I've
been a Christian for a little more than 30 years, and it eventually
seemed reasonable to not just talk about
being a Christian -- either because it's meaningless to someone who
doesn't share that faith, or because in many cases it may even be
associated with negative connotations. Instead, I decided to share why my
faith has been such a profoundly positive force in my life, in the hope
that others might understand it better and maybe even look into it more
There are three things that might differentiate this book from other similar projects.
It's not set up to be profitable. People who are interested can
purchase a nicely designed hardcover book, but they can also download it
or read it for free at bareboneschristianity.com
. (Even if they buy a copy, the purchase price is at cost.)
It's not about a specific flavor of Christianity. I tried to strip
away all cultural and confessional trappings and talk about the very
basics of my faith (thus Bare-Bones Christianity).
And it's very, very simple to read and (I promise!) contains no specialized church vocabulary.
I'm happy to have written this little book, and I would love it if
you're interested in finding out how choosing faith as a young adult 30
years ago radically changed the course of my life.
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