Mut zur Lücke, or a politically correct segmentation

Zweisprachiger Text auf dokumenta in Kassel - Aus der Sicht eines Übersetzers

Some of the buttons I really enjoy clicking on when working with MemoQ are Split Segment (Ctrl+T) and Join Segments (Ctrl+J):

Segmentierung in MemoQ.

In fact, it was a revelation to know that you can have a – Divide et impera! – break from a rigid segmentation structure of the source text instead of blindly following it in your output (as in older Trados versions). An often overlooked drawback of CAT tools is, to quote my colleague Gabriele Zöttl: “Übersetzungsprogramme zwingen den Übersetzer, ein Segment nach dem anderen genau in der Reihenfolge des Ausgangstextes zu übersetzen. Bei den meisten Texten, die mir auf den Schreibtisch kommen, führt diese Vorgehensweise zu einem höchst unbefriedigenden Ergebnis.” Since each language has its own rules and habits, chopping up the text into the original segments in the usual TagEditor manner (“Dateien im proprietären, in Segmente zerhackstückten Trados-Format”) is a mark of a seriously flawed translation approach.

It is also great to know the source text can be altered, too, from within the programme, with Edit Source (F2):

Taste zum Editieren des Quelltexts in MemoQ - Übersetzungssoftware (CAT).

As somebody who translates many but reads very few, if at all, manuals, I owe this knowledge to Kevin Lossner with his tips on fixing source segmentation and editing source text. I wonder if he actually plans to compile his brilliant MemoQuickies into a sort of hands-on tutorial, as there seems to be a niche still unfilled (no “CATs for Dummies” so far).

As for segmentation, I wonder even more if this Mut zur Lücke (German: courage for the gap) in the bilingual text on the picture above could be defined as courage to LEAVE gaps or CLOSE gaps:

Segmentierung des bilingualen Texts mit einer fehlenden englischen Zeile

It certainly depends on the current state of political correctness (or your views on it), but much more on the translation DIRECTION. As a casual visitor to this year’s documenta (13) in Kassel, I have no idea whether it was a translator from German into English who had to break the segmentation in this otherwise perfectly aligned text or a Übersetzer(in) following the rules of German political correctness. I wish it was the former, but suspect it is the latter. Also, makes the translation longer, if you charge by the TARGET words…


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