A Computer Journal For Translation Professionals
(the three hundred twenty-seventh edition)
Let me just be up-front with you: I have two favors to ask. And only one is likely to benefit you.
Let's start with that one. Josh Goldsmith, Nora Díaz, and I have
been working on a project that we can't completely unveil yet, but we
can promise that you will hear about it in the next month or two (you'll
probably hear a lot about it, in fact!). I can also reveal that it's
going to be something that the majority of you will like and benefit
In preparation for that yet-to-be-unveiled project, we would like
you to answer a super short survey for us (four questions with
open-fielded answers about how you see yourself as a translator today
and tomorrow). You can find the link right here
And then I have the chutzpah to ask some of you for one more favor,
one which will benefit you only very tangentially. Some of you will
have seen the promo video
that was produced for my new Characters with Character
book. It is narrated by me and subtitled in English. MultiLingual and I
would love (LOVE) to have that handful of subtitles (14 lines, 100
words) translated into other languages. What other languages? Really any
that you as a professional translator can provide. And that tangential
benefit? You'll get a mention at the end of the video. Oh, and you'll
have my gratitude!
You can access the subtitle file in its original SRT format or as a Word doc right here.
This is also where you can make a note of the language you're translating into so there will be no duplicated efforts.
ModernMT (Take III)
How to find the perfect interpreting headset (Column by Josh Goldsmith and Naomi Bowman)
Time awareness prevents stress (Column by Dorothee Racette)
The Rest of Us
This 'n' That
New Password for the Tool Box Archive
The Last Word on the Tool Box Journal
When I talked with Tommi Nieminen a few
months ago about the OPUS-MT and OPUS-CAT products (you can find that
article in issue 324 in the archives), he said -- much to my surprise --
that according to his testing, his products (the locally installed MT
and the connector to CAT tools) are as good as or better than any other
trainable machine translation engine.
Except one. ModernMT.
I have written about ModernMT
twice now (editions 297 and 308 in the archives), and I want to
continue with that because it's a unique product with a really
interesting approach to adjustable machine translation, combined with an
affordable price, an incredibly long list of supported languages (
Arabic, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese, Chinese Traditional,
Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French,
German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Italian,
Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Malay, Maltese,
Norwegian Bokmal, Norwegian Nynorsk, Polish, Portuguese, Portuguese
Brazil, Romanian, Russian, Serbian Cyrillic, Serbian Latin, Slovak,
Slovenian, Spanish, Spanish Latin America, Swedish, Thai, Turkish,
Ukrainian, Vietnamese), and a surprisingly small group of users.
I admit that I don't use it myself -- the one large and ongoing
project I could use it for is handled in a tool that does not offer
connectivity to the customizable portion of ModernMT 😪 -- but I have a strong sense that I might if that were different.
For us, the users, the process by which ModernMT
works is intriguingly uncomplicated: Any translation request is first
sent to a translation memory of your choosing, from which a
now-customized request (essentially your source segment plus some
similar target data from your TM) is sent to a generic machine
translation (hosted in a number of data centers, including in Rome and
San Jose), which then sends back machine translation suggestions that
are likely adjusted to the style and terminology of your TM (provided
that the data of the TM had similar enough information to the original
request). This means that you don't have to worry about training the
machine translation engine data per se; you just need to use a current
translation memory to "massage" the MT suggestions.
After some unfortunate early pricing hiccups, access to ModernMT
now costs $25 a month
(with a free trial month) and connects directly with all the necessary features to Trados through an app in the app store
, to memoQ through a plugin,
and of course to MateCat
("of course" because both MateCat
are owned by the translation and technology company Translated). Presently, the ModernMT
team is working on a Chrome
extension as well, which should allow for the use of any browser-based translation environment and ModernMT
There are also a number of other tools that you can connect to the generic ModernMT
machine translation engine, including CafeTran
and the various Wordfast
tools (for the latter, see this video
), but without the customization feature, which sort of defeats the point, in my opinion.
I talked with Translated's CEO Marco Trombetti and Davide
Caroselli, ModernMT's VP of Product, about where they stand in the
market and what's new with the product. The two features that they
pointed out as new are faster processing speed and a reconfiguration of
the translation parameters to give greater emphasis on the automated "TM
Even more interesting were the usage numbers they shared. About
80-90% of their revenue comes from enterprise customers (their most
well-known account, much used for marketing, is AirBnB), and there are
about 1,000 paying freelance translators (the latter, according to
Marco, with a month-to-month increase of 15%). That was actually more
than I expected -- the last time I had spoken to Davide it had just been
(and I quote) "a handful."
I'm curious to hear what the numbers are the next time I talk to him.
The Tech-Savvy Interpreter 2.0 - How to find the perfect interpreting headset (Column by Josh Goldsmith and Naomi Bowman)
In our last column, we discussed how to find the ideal interpreting headphones.
Once you do so, just plug that perfect pair into a console for onsite work.
More experienced interpreters might also use their favorite headphones with a USB microphone and mixer for remote interpreting.
But without a doubt, the easiest path to solid audio during remote meetings is to invest in a USB headset.
In this column, we'll cover the basics and share our suggestions for finding your perfect interpreting headset.
Headsets are simply headphones with an
integrated microphone. They keep the microphone close to your mouth,
giving you the freedom to move around, lean back in your chair or even
stand without worrying about how far you are from the microphone.
(Farewell, hunching over!)
Since most are plug-and-play USB
models, they're easy to set up and use. Google Chrome -- the browser of
choice for many remote simultaneous interpreting platforms -- generally
recognizes them automatically. Plus, the majority feature
noise-canceling or unidirectional microphones, which means they
naturally pick up less ambient noise and create better sound for your
When using a headset, place the
microphone slightly below your mouth to avoid breathing or popping
sounds. If the mic capsule is too close to your mouth, it will pick up
breathing, plosives, and other unwanted noise. If it's too far away,
you'll be less audible.
Take some time and listen to yourself
while getting your microphone positioned perfectly. The ideal position
is generally about 3 cm from your mouth, with the microphone slightly
below and to the side of your lips.
Don't forget to move the mic down if you've flipped it up during a break to eat or drink!
Even if you opt for the microphone and
headphones setup, a USB headset is a quick grab-and-go option to address
issues that may crop up on a platform -- and they will. Plus, it
doesn't need to break the bank. As a result, we recommend that everyone
purchase a headset for remote interpreting.
Unfortunately, gear can fail at the
least convenient times. Make sure to keep a spare headset or microphone
and headphones close at hand.
How to pick your headset
What makes a headset high quality? Surprisingly, price isn't always a good indicator. What really matters: the right features.
Start by selecting a wired headset.
Wireless or Bluetooth headphones are fine for listening to music at
home, but a cabled model will ensure the most stable, reliable
connection for incoming and outgoing sound. (Plus, it won't need to be
Like headphones, USB headsets can be
over-ear, on-ear, closed, open, semi-open, and noise-cancelling. Pick
the headset that feels most comfortable to you. (And if you need a
refresher on all these terms, head back to our last column.)
The International Organization for
Standardization (ISO) establishes a limit of no more than 200 grams for
interpreting headsets, which means you'll likely want to avoid over-ear
models. After all, if you're going to be wearing a headset for hours,
you want it to be light! If you do pick an over-ear headset, we
recommend open or semi-open styles, and have found that semi-open
headsets tend to offer the best results.
Headsets come with either a USB plug or
an audio jack -- usually the 3.5 mm mini-plug. Although it's possible
to use a headset with a 3.5 mm audio plug, you will likely need to pair
it with a USB sound card. Plug-and-play USB headsets are less complex --
just plug them in and they're ready to use. Since computers can often
identify headsets, selecting your model on your remote interpreting
platform tends to be relatively trouble-free.
You might come across call-center style
headsets which only cover one ear. We don't recommend these for
interpreting, since you won't be able to "switch ears" or use both
earpieces to hear the original in one ear and your boothmate in the
Instead, pick a binaural headset -- in
other words, one with two earpieces. It should have a flexible boom arm
which lets you place the microphone at exactly the right distance from
your mouth. (Bonus points if it swings 180 degrees backwards and
forwards so you can use it on both sides.)
Some headsets include volume controls
and a mute button, which is convenient -- this works just like the cough
button on your console. Pick a model with an indicator light so you can
tell if the mute is turned on.
Headsets might also offer
noise-cancelling microphones which filter out background noise. This
feature also helps keep the incoming audio from feeding back into the
microphone while you are interpreting, though it can significantly
increase the cost of your headset.
As we mentioned in our last article,
both your speaker and your microphone should span a frequency response
range of 125 - 15,000 Hz. This sounds like jargon, but it's really quite
simple: the lower number represents bass frequencies and the higher
number represents treble tones. Purchase a headset that covers this
entire range to hear and be heard well. Microphones and speakers that
cap out at lower ranges will deliver sound that is less crisp and
Some headsets have built-in limiters.
These tend to limit sound to levels between 110 and 120 dB, which is
much higher than the SO stated maximum for simultaneous interpreting (94
dB for longer than 100 ms). As a result, although these technologies
may offer limited protection, they cannot provide full protection from
acoustic shock And beware: Even if a brand offers a built-in limiter,
not all models will include the feature. Software limiters may help to
address the problem, but in general, the best protection is to keep the
volume as low as possible.
Finally, since people's preferences
differ, you may need to try out a few headsets to see which one fits
right and works best for you.
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 www.techforword.com, which empowers language professionals to make the most of technology.
Naomi Bowman has worked in the
conference interpreting industry for more than 30 years, with a 25-year
focus on remote interpreting. She is CEO of DS-Interpretation, Inc.,
a technology-focused conference interpreting company founded in 1972.
Committed to raising the global standards of conference interpreting,
she is a popular public speaker on RSI, helping interpreters transition
to a virtual world, and the effects of technology on the language
Before going to bed, you check your
email one last time, only to find a hundred-page document for tomorrow
morning's meeting. 😱 What do you do?
The live edition of the course includes 30+
course videos, 20+ exercises, weekly office hours with Josh, a live
group Q&A, a pop-up group to discuss what you're learning, a private
podcast, and tons of new lessons. Grab your spot before the price increases on August 15!
Time awareness prevents stress (Column by Dorothee Racette)
Did you know that time perception varies from person to person?
Only about one third of all people can accurately predict the passage of
one minute with their eyes closed. "Time optimists" – the people in
whose estimation time moves more slowly than it actually does – have
unrealistic expectations about the number of tasks they can fit into a
given time interval. For example, they may believe that they can finish a
work assignment, answer e-mails, and update their social media accounts
in a single hour. Overly optimistic time projections fail to take
transition times, the mental commute between different tasks, into
account. As a result, there may not be enough buffer time to complete
projects, and deadlines may be more stressful than necessary.
Our brains are not capable of switching seamlessly from one task to
another. Think of a situation when you are deeply immersed in a
difficult translation, and you receive a text message from a family
member about an upcoming event. You respond, but it can take up to 10
minutes to fully return to your previous focus. The same process repeats
with every disruption, and before you know it, you've opened another
tab in your browser and are reading about cocktail recipes for your
Regardless of your time optimism, recognizing your brain's need for
transition times benefits your daily work output. Expecting yourself to
translate different projects back-to-back and underestimating how long
the work will take sets the stage for quality problems and errors. If
you struggle with deadlines or regularly end up working extra night
shifts, it may be helpful to examine how long it truly takes you to
recover from distractions, and how much transition time you need for
switching to the next task. To be more productive, step away from your
desk for a few minutes when you lose focus. Instead of mindless
scrolling, you can stretch, water the plants, or start the dishwasher. I
have found that leaving a "where was I" note on my keyboard before a break helps me jump back into my work without wasting time.
Freelancing can be stressful. Many translators struggle to find
time for the long-term strategic objectives of their business. They know
that building a sustainable business requires daily attention to
marketing, networking, finances, and technology – but when is there ever
The key to addressing long-term tasks lies in distinguishing
between urgent and important. In urgent mode, our time awareness goes
out the window. We tend to tackle the first task that comes to our
attention, typically an email or another type of message. We translate,
check other messages, respond to social media posts, and absentmindedly
attend to personal matters. Working in this mode is associated with
unhealthy habits, such as skipping exercise, eating at your desk, and
spending too many hours hunched over a keyboard. What's worse, urgent
mode as the default keeps us stuck professionally, working for
high-volume clients at low rates.
In contrast, a deliberately chosen long-term perspective allows for
better work-life balance decisions and frees up much needed personal
time. Paradoxically, marketing, creating presentations, or writing blog
posts, the activities that give you access to different client groups
and better pay, can feel confusing and strangely undefined -- the
classic "slow day" with few tangible results. I will share a few tips
for dealing with slow days in a future column.
To improve the balance between urgent and important work modes, it
is helpful to gain greater clarity about your personal work
circumstances, including your availability, project load, and household
realities. Useful time awareness aspects include:
- When you do your best/most creative work
- When the bulk of your work arrives (client time zones)
- How many channels you have to watch for incoming work
- When you are least likely to get interrupted
- Family commitments/pets, etc.
scientific insights into the concept of "neuroplasticity" have upended
our notions of adult learning and the ability to change ingrained
habits. As it turns out, you CAN teach an old dog new tricks. Working
more productively and leveraging your skills starts with understanding
your own perception of time.
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.
Step out of urgent mode and design the next chapter of your business!
Join Dorothee's 4-week "Complete What You Started" course in
August. Past participants have called the program "one of the best
decisions I ever made."
It is a major pet peeve of mine that many translation tools, and
especially translation environment tools, are designed to create two
different classes of users: technically advanced and the rest of us.
Now, most features are typically available for everyone's skill level.
But the features that deal with complex file formats, advanced
search-and-replace features, or complex filtering are often reserved for
users who are either not shy (or have the time!) to sit down for a
couple of hours to create complex queries or who already have the
In a way this is not surprising. After all, it is more likely for a
technically advanced user to reach out to the development team behind
any tool and ask questions, give suggestions, or enter into any kind of
dialogue. After all, they are the ones who have the confidence that they
speak the required lingo. The result is that the development teams see
these users as the "power users" and feels that they are owed
particularly much in regard to new features or improvements of existing
I don't think that I have to explain much more, since every one of
you knows exactly where you fit on either side of this divide, and
you're either happy about the situation (if you are a technically
advanced user) or frustrated (if you're the rest of us).
The latest version of memoQ
(9.8) has a number of features that you can learn about right here,
but there's one in particular that tries to address the problem mentioned above. I'm of course talking about memoQ's
new Regex Assistant
And what again is "regex"? First of all, it doesn't help that this
seems to be a word no one can agree on how to pronounce. It's either
/ˈɹɛˌɡɛks/ or /ˈɹɛˌdʒɛks/, and it stands for "regular expression." It's
coded language to specify a search pattern -- kind of like the options
you know from the Microsoft Word
search feature, only that Microsoft (frustratingly) doesn't actually
use true regex in that case. Many other tools do, though, including
virtually all translation environment tools, which allow you to use
these expressions for any action to search, search and replace, or
highlight text in situations where you might need it.
MemoQ is no exception, and the new Regex Assistant
can essentially be seen as a peace offering to the technically less
advanced users to give them as many tools as possible to write the code
that their geeky brothers and sisters have been able to use for a long
Interestingly, when I talked to Zsolt Varga and Tamás Rell (Product
Owner and UX Designer, respectively), they mentioned twice that the Regex Assistant
is not to be confused with power regex editing tools like Regex Hero
Those tools can naturally still be used by whoever wants to compose
their regex queries within those environments (and then paste them into
The Regex Assistant offers
a couple of assists in writing the regexes that you might need to find
or filter your text, plus a couple of verification tools for the
validity of your code.
The Regex Cheat Sheet is a list of common syntactical elements with their description in natural language (i.e., * stands for "any character" or \d for "any digit") alongside the ability to actually compose a regex with those selections. The Regex Library
consists of more than 30 pre-composed regexes that the developers tried
to carefully assemble by asking their users for the most often-used (or
most-desired) regexes for their daily work. Selecting one of those from
the drop-down list will enter it into the Find What field underneath. Here you can leave the query as is or alter it for your specific needs.
Underneath the Find What field you'll find the Testing Ground field, into which you can enter any text from any source or target field within a memoQ
project with the appropriate buttons, or manually enter text and see
whether your created regex works satisfactorily on that particular
example. If you have either altered an existing regex or created one
from scratch, you can then save it in your Regex Library so you can use it again next time.
MemoQ's team is quite aware
that the number of precomposed regexes is not going to be sufficient for
all users, but they hope there will be a lively exchange of these
expressions in user fora and privately between users. I asked Zsolt and
Tamás why they wouldn't actually open an official market or bartering
place for these valuable strings. According to them, this was not what
the users asked for in their fairly extensive user research, but I can
imagine that we will see this become more interesting once the masses
(i.e., us) get the hang of this so far virtually locked feature.
By the way, those conversations with users have been happening either via surveys or on the relatively new Idea Portal
has opened up. So far, the Idea Portal is open to users who have a
number of years of support contracts under their belt (presently there
are about 500 participants in the portal), but it should soon be open to
any user with an existing support contract.
And if you're still not sure what this is all good for, you can
find some more detailed information on where and when to use the regex
feature right here
If you think this is a positive review of the Regex Assistant
feature, you're right. Even if you don't really have an interest in
extending your search capabilities in translation environment tools, we
should all be encouraged that this seems to be a recognition on the part
of developers that we all need to be brought into the fray when it
comes to the influence we choose to exert on our projects.
Plus, I almost forgot to mention that this version of the Regex Assistant is only the first iteration, with an even more feature-rich version coming with the memoQ 9.9 release in September.
"This is a book you can
tell was written from the heart. Jost has masterfully chosen characters
that hold both artistic beauty and plenty of meaning. A lovely curation
that displays the beauty of language. This book deserves a place in
every language enthusiast's library."
You can order your own copy of Characters with Character: 50 Ways to Rekindle Your Love Affair with Language right here
First of all, I'm thrilled (THRILLED) that my favorite event of the
American Translators Association's (hybrid) conference in Minneapolis
is back: The "Dictionary Exchange." We tried this for the first time a
few years ago and were not completely sure whether it would work, but it
was just fantastic. You can read some recollections from the first time
If you do, you'll find out that it really is not so much an "exchange"
as it is a place to give away dictionaries that are gathering dust on
your bookshelves and (independently of whether you brought dictionaries
or not) where you can add as many dictionaries as you want to your own
treasured collection. If you're not planning to come to Minneapolis,
you'll be able to send me those dictionaries in Minneapolis and I will
put them out for you. I'll let you know an address to send them to in
Also, I would like to point you to a webinar that might be much
needed by some of us (and maybe even many of us!). Masterword, an LSP in
Houston, is organizing a mini-conference later this month (July 29th)
with the title "Perils and Pearls of Living Online -- Is working on-line
impacting your health? Can we change that?"
They've put together
an interesting slate of medical and emotional health experts. The
registration is only $10, and you can find more information right here
New Password for the Tool Box Archive
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You can subscribe to to the Journal right here
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