CATs, TEnT and all that jazz

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Silvestrov - ECM

Apart from my Ukrainian-sounding name, I don’t have any affiliation with this country. Although I have been to nearly every post-Soviet republic, my only – very short – stay in Ukraine lies many years in the past. I spent two days in Kiev to visit Valentin Silvestrov, one of today’s greatest maverick composers, and this explains the iconic ECM cover picture above (Valentin Silvestrov’s Silent Songs, ECM New Series 1898/99). The reason I mention Ukraine of all things has to do with the fact that AIT, Advanced International Translations, is a software development company based in the Ukraine. So needless to say, my non-affiliation statement for the country goes for the company as well. Also needless to say, I think both Ukraine and this particular Ukrainian company deserve our support, perhaps now more than ever. AIT builds quality software that delivers value. Since years, Translation Office 3000 has been a popular solution for managing language service projects. However, despite a very good support of AIT’s team, this highly versatile and customizable tool is seldom utilized to the full of its potential. Many convenient functions remain largely unknown and unused. The idea of this blog post is to show a few things that help make the software more usable and useful (the following tips refer to Version 11, Advanced Edition).

1. How to make up for the lack of network capabilities

Translation Office 3000 is intended for individual translators and is designed as a single-user desktop system. However, it still can be used in a team.

With Translation Office 3000, all your data are stored in a Firebird SQL file called TO3000.fdb. The path to your database is shown at the bottom, in the right corner of the Translation Office 3000 window. You can move the file to any other location on your PC, but the software won't be able to access the file once it is placed in a network folder or on a virtual drive. That pretty much describes what the lack of network capabilities means.

To make up for the restrictions and make your database accessible from various machines, AIT suggests using “some folder synchronization software like Dropbox”. Alternatively, if you have concerns about cloud storage, you can sync and always keep updated your database in a local network.

To do so, I recommend that you set up a dedicated folder on your local drive where you want to store the database. After you repeat the procedure on every machine in your network, you will have a series of TO3000.fdb files. Now you only have to sync them. A good idea is to create a central node, e.g. on a NAS device.

First of all, make a backup copy of your database and copy the TO3000.fdb (the path will be shown in the bottom of the Translation Office 3000 window), say, to your desktop. Set up your dedicated folder, e.g. on your C: drive, and copy the TO3000.fdb in this folder. Now go to Settings -> Database -> Set Database Folder:

Tutorial for Translation office 3000 - Translation project management software - Screenshot

In the window Destination path to TO3000 database, identify your dedicated folder, press Set database folder and Close to return to the normal view:

Translation Project Management Software - Screenshot No. 2

After you set up your dedicated folders on every computer in the network (and copied the TO3000.fdb to a dedicated folder on a NAS drive, if using it), you can define the synchronization rules in your synchronization software.

You can use any software like SyncToy (Microsoft's supremely understated, free utility), Allway Sync or GoodSync (my tool of preference). Basically, you simply align your dedicated folders in the left and right windows, the rest is self-explanatory.

However, I would warn against using any auto functions like “Newer files win” in GoodSync. Translation Office 3000 assigns a timestamp to the TO3000.fdb file each time you close the program. As soon as you merely open and close your Translation Office on one of your computers, you “update” your local TO3000.fdb file at the risk of overwriting the node database that might be more up-to-date. To prevent any accidents, remember to manually synchronize your aligned folders before you open Translation Office and after you close it, that’s the deal.

2. How to customize your invoice templates

Unlike many other invoicing tools out there, Translation Office 3000 enables to customize your invoice templates in endless ways. In fact, a plethora of possibilities and options might seem overwhelming. Although AIT provides a comprehensive, detailed guide on how to create your templates (click on RTFTemplatesGuide.pdf to download the PDF), I heard many fellow translators complaining about their difficulties to cope with all those variables listed in the manual (and ending using the default templates instead).

That is why my advice is to start from the opposite end. Instead of trying to adapt one of both default templates, open an empty Word document (you can use PC or Mac, it doesn't matter) and create a dummy invoice. You can start from scratch, take one of your past invoices or reproduce any available invoice form to your liking. Or download some generic invoice form and save it in RTF format.

Now identify the obvious placeholders that you are going to replace with TO3000 variables. For example, if you want the address part of your invoice to look like this:

Custom templates in Translation Office 3000

you can use the following variables in your RTF template:

Project Management Software for Translation Agencies - Translation Office 3000

The central part of my English invoice template –

Translation Project Management Software

never fails to generate nice, round numbers –

Translation Office 3000 - Invoice example

If you wonder about this weird variable:

Invoice Templates for Translators

It is a simple trick to put any number in the field Notes (Edit Invoice, tab Notes) to be used as the current invoice number:

Translation Project management Software - Screenshot

The possibilities are endless. But finally, after you have designed your RTF template, go to Settings -> Personal settings -> Templates -> CLIENTS -> Invoices to check the list of your templates and the path to the templates folder:

Translation Office 3000 - Custom Templates Window

Copy your newly designed template to the folder displayed at the bottom. Now, when producing invoices you can choose Your newly designed template.rtf from the dropdown menu:

Translation Office 3000 - Custom Templates

3. How to include your suppliers, subcontractors and colleagues in your database

If you outsource or run a translation agency, you should probably consider purchasing another AIT’s product, Projetex. However, you can still include your suppliers, subcontractors and colleagues in your TO3000 database. In fact, the Advanced Edition of Translation Office 3000 has the potential to serve as a fully fledged ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system.

The most logical place for your subcontractors would be Business Expenses:

Translation Office 3000 - Suppliers and Subcontractors

But before opening your Business Expenses, first go to Settings -> Advanced -> Custom Fields -> Business Expenses. Press the green plus button left from Group of fields to create a new group. For simplicity’s sake you can call it Vendors or Subcontractors. Now in the new group (it will be highlighted blue), press the green plus button (&New Field) on the right to create a New Custom Field. In the pop-up window you can start creating new custom fields:

Custom fields for including your suppliers in Translation Office database

One big advantage is to use Multiple Text Lines as a field type and assign 15 as the maximum line number in the field Lines count. As a result, you will have a fairly large field to enter free text information regarding your subcontractor (notes, remarks, copies of emails, etc.).

For my purposes, I compiled a series of custom fields that are self-explanatory even in German:

Translators database for Translation Office 3000

You can find additional information on Custom Fields in the Help file of Translation Office 3000, but I don’t think you will really need it. It is a no brainer as far as I am concerned. There is only one tricky thing you should bear in mind when entering information on your subcontractors. After you opened Business Expenses and pressed New, make sure you (1) enter some number other than 0,00 before you (2) click on the Custom Fields tab:

Translation Office 3000 - Creating Custom Fields

Otherwise you will receive the following error message after you have filled all your fields (and you will probably want this message to be more specific about where on earth – among all your fields – you should enter your value?!):

Translation Office - Custom Fields - Enter Message

Well, you are set to go. In this way you can enhance the functionality of Translator Office 3000 with the addition of a very flexible “vendors” database which I find quite sufficient for individual translators who outsource part of their jobs as well as for larger translator teams or small to medium boutique translation companies. The next step from here would be to configure the calculation of contribution margins, set up an automatic notification system etc. In this case though, you are probably ready to look for a more powerful ERP system. Or upgrade to Projetex (I am not familiar with this software).

The three small how-tos illustrate the multitude of ways Translation Office 3000 can be used to improve your translation business. TO3000 has numerous other features that could come in handy for GTD (Getting Things Done) and keeping your work organized. I would appreciate any further tips and comments on this practical tool. Thanks for reading!


Opactwo Benedyktynów w Tyńcu          
“It is nice to put a face to a name.” Those who attend today's professional conferences might find this saying useful, when aligning names of their friends on Facebook or LinkedIn with real persons in real life. One of the first persons I met in the courtyard of the Benedictine Abbey in Tyniec, where the international Cracow Translation Days conference took place (September 6-8, 2013), happened to be Siegfried Armbruster, who I have virtually, that is online, known for ages.

It is equally nice to be able to put a name to a face. In case with Steven Sklar it was not a problem, but a nice surprise. I first met Steven, a French to English financial translator, at the TM Europe conference in Warsaw last year. We agreed that Cracow would be the ideal venue for a next TM Europe conference to be held in Poland and that we certainly would like to visit this city, if the occasion arises. So nice that the wish came true, even if TM Europe 2013, unexpectedly, didn’t pan out.

Steven Sklar

Last year in Warsaw, I realized that translators need to become more visible. Anonymity kills. Putting a name to your translation (please click here if you never read this interview) is the message that Chris Durban, the famous author of “The Prosperous Translator”, never fails to spread.

Chris enjoys a star status not only as one of the top-notch translators but also as a strong opinion leader and a highly respected business consultant in our global community. Needless to say, every event where Chris Durban is present, is destined to become special indeed.

This time Chris started her keynote address with the opposite of “the Prosperous”, that is “the Frugal”. The word “frugal” used as an antonym to “prosperous” may come as a surprise, but the reasoning behind it, as regards certain (quite a few, I am afraid) language professionals, is convincing. Why do so many "frugally" undercharging translators fail to recognize the true value of their work? My own guess is, if there is some rationale behind this self-sabotage, that they think of their work always as of something secondary to the source. The original already produced by the client, a translator can only try to copy and reproduce what is already there.

However, translators' inferiority has certainly to do more with psychology rather than rational thought. Listening to Chris Durban’s description of “literate, but not numerate“ translators, I was asking myself what came first: the specific, negative mindset which “helps“ to choose the career of a (certain type of) translator or the experience of working as a translator that forwards the development of certain traits.

However, Chris doesn’t stop at observing behaviours ("The Seven Deadly Sins") and merely stating facts. She is best known for her practical advice. The next day, Chris Durban presented a great workshop (“Working the Room”) with plenty of tips and tricks for finding and working with premium clients.

Chris Durban

As we all know, those Luddites who still have doubts about the universal applicability of machine translation will have to take a vow of silence as of tomorrow or a few minutes later. The Benedictine Abbey in Tyniec agreed to consider what other limited means of communication could be granted to the poor souls. I am not in a position to disclose any details of late night clandestine meetings that took place behind this door and confine myself to stating that the discussion was held in a friendly, constructive atmosphere:

Translation Conference in Poland

Unaware of the ongoing talks, a few participants still preferred to think outloud and even openly speak about MT rather than to preventively engage themselves in monastic works. Others took the middle road. Jerzy Czopik, in particular, demonstrated through hard physical work how the age-old, underground machine translation technology can still be used in the Wieliczka Salt Mine. Granted, the fine English distinction between "translation" and "transmission" might get lost in translation, if an inadequately trained machine would try to process the German "Übersetzung", but Jerzy, a native of Kraków and a professional motive power engineer, must know better, right?

Wieliczka Salt Mine

All jokes aside, language technology and machine translation certainly had a prominent place on the conference agenda. Siegfried “Siggi” Armbruster, whose GxP medical translation company is now busily organising the coming TriKonf conference in Freiburg, told about how he “aligned the Internet” to build up huge TMs and AutoSuggest dictionaries in order to improve productivity. His claim that “machine translation belongs in the hands of professional translators” certainly runs contrary to the general expectations. It is a noble call, though. Those who look to benefit from MT systems are MT system vendors themselves, in the first place. But, as another speaker at the conference, John Moran, mentioned, ask yourself why MT vendors never provide demo versions of their wonder working tools.


John Moran, who I have a tremendous respect for, presented some facts and figures about machine translation and post-editing. Most research of this kind focuses on speed and productivity, taking quality out of the equation. However, one result is worth quoting: “One could intuitively expect that fast translators make fewer changes than slow translators. In our test, however, the post-editor who made the highest number of changes was also the fastest. The graphs indicate no clear correlation between edit distance and throughput” (Productivity Test of Statistical Machine Translation Post-Editing in a Typical Localisation Content, by Mirko Plitt and François Masselot, 2010).

The reason I called this reportnon-inclusive” is not only my skipping other interesting sessions and inspiring, talented speakers – there were so many of them, and the genre of a rather impressionist blog post like this is not the most appropriate medium for a more comprehensive report. The other reason I decided to use "non-inclusive" in the title of this blog post was the Sunday morning session. Sabine Dievenkorn from Chile spoke about “non-excluding” translation and the “Inclusive Bible”.

My decision to attend a talk called “Translating a Religion” was very spontaneous, but it turned out to be one of the most interesting subjects of the Cracow Conference. I never realized the role that translators play in shaping our perception of history, religion and humankind. Since no human translator can work unideologically, machine translation could provide, theoretically, a more objective means for the interpretation of the Bible’s Urtext. However, remembering John Moran’s definition of MT output being only a visualization of matches from a corpora compiled by human translators, I don’t think it would be a good idea.

Sabine Dievenkorn Chile

The Translation Days Cracow 2013 was a very exclusive event at a spectacular and secluded venue, excellently organised by Lisa Rüth, Jerzy Czopik:


Christof Kocher and Ralf Lemster (Ralf Lemster Financial Translations GmbH):

Ralf Lemster and Christof Kocher

THANK YOU all very much for this memorable, truly unique event!

It's a pity I didn't have much time to enjoy Cracow. I realized what I missed when I was leafing the inflight magazine on board the plane back to Germany. I flew RyanAir, the company that used Blue Ocean strategies (mostly reduce/eliminate) to create another Red Ocean market (attendees of Marta Stelmaszak’s workshop “Blue Ocean Strategy – Can Translators Make Competition Irrelevant?” will hopefully know what I mean). I never realized RyanAir had an inflight magazine. It’s rather good. Mine had a very informative and entertaining article about Cracow.

Recapitulating the Cracow conference on board the plane, I was wondering if RyanAir would ever use MT for this stuff (you would think this low-fare company is candidate no. 1 to do so and they certainly know how to cut cost of all things). I don’t think it would happen though, neither for journalism, nor advertising. There is still pretty much content written by humans for humans, where MT simply fails and post-editing is rather a hindrance, not a help. Cracow definitely was not the site of one of the the Last Suppers for these Human Translators, but this astounding image by Stefan Gentz (very smart, Stefan!) gives me a chance to get back to my initial saying about aligning names and faces:

Stefan Gentz - Translators' Last Supper in Cracow

The Last Supper of the Translation Days Cracow 2013, courtesy of Stefan Gentz.


Jessica Schulz, Spanish to German translator, recommendable for simultaneous interpretation of Cracow guided tours and for translation of highly specialised, technical and scientific content in the field of transport and logistics (using the latest language technology, e.g. special CAT tools for mobile phones)


Financial translation, especially in the language combination English and French, seems to be in good hands: Chris Durban, Steven Sklar, and now Jon Olds.


Katarzyna Slobodzian-Taylor aka Kasia aka MasterMindTranslations, English to Polish (via Indonesian), from Glouster, Gloustershire, GB


The lovely Anne Diamantidis is so busy these days with the TriKonf conference in Freiburg. And I grew so accustomed to the fact that she is French, not Greek, that I felt more and more the urge to call her Marianne.



View from the Benedictine Abbey in Tyniec, where the Translation Days Cracow 2013 conference took place.

Language Translation Software - CAT tools

The stuff below, I am sure, has all the ingredients for a cool and bizarre performance, an avant-garde sort of thing. The curtain falls, and a sombre, masked, Greek-type chorus appears. You feel some eerie gravity on stage, the chorus' collective voice is silence. Until a spotlight falls and a solitary question sounds. The chorus comes to life. One by one, voices are rising.

For an outsider, mysterious creatures that anonymous personages call "cats" make no sense. But even in their absence, they are omnipresent. Can we do without them? A whiff of conflict is noticeable in the air.

Whether an existentialist drama or rather a Monty Python farce thereof, it doesn’t matter. The script for the play is a verbatim reproduction of a discussion in a popular Facebook group for translators ("Watercooler: for translators…"). I didn’t turn "CAT-tools", as they are generally referred to, into mysterious "cats", and took liberty only to anonymize/acronymize the names of the group members. I left myself visible though and also highlighted a few points in the others' comments. (Translator's note for an outsider: "CAT tools" stand for Computer Aided Translation tools, a competitive term is TEnT – Translation Environment Tools, i.e. software.)

So why put it here? At first, I wanted to save a few comments to Evernote for my own reference. However educational and entertaining such discussions in Facebook groups are, they have a very short lifetime and disappear in the abysses of Facebook's history very soon. Deathless (ahem) drama, poetry and prose aside, this stuff doesn’t lack argumentative ingredients that are well worth remembering or, at least, being made undead.

There are many more translators who are concerned with the subject of language technology or who simply think about using (or not using) CAT tools than professional translators who use Facebook. Perhaps this script/discussion can serve as a refreshing CAT detox for all of us. The ingredients are there, by all means.

DK: I would like to know if there are still translators working without CAT-tools…

KS: I'm a Japanese-English translator who tried using CAT tools and found them to be more trouble than they're worth. Most of the things I translate have very little repetition.

DK: Same with me, K., that´s why I asked. Thanks a lot for your reaction!!!

IT: Same here. I just use them when I am required to.

SK: I know a few of them!

FF: I work with academic texts and aside from a few key words, there is practically no repetition whatsoever. I've tried CAT tools but I find them to have very little value for my area. I think they're wonderful but ultimately it's about what works for you

IHM: Definitely, I only use it when I see beforehand that the text has repetitions and that I could gain time using it. Most of the time I find it more time-consuming because I always rework on my text in Word.

JS: I know many translators which never ever use a CAT-tool – because it is simply of no use to them (marketing, litterary etc. – that is to say, all those cases where they are juggling with inspiration and language

ES: I think there are some types of translation that are still best done without, but that most translators who work on manuals, legal contracts, and such do use them. If the texts are creative, literature, etc, it is more common to not use them. Although I must say that if I translated a book I would want to know which adjective I used last time and it is easier to search in the memory….. But this is probably because I have been using CAT tools for 16 years or so….

JF: I know plenty of translators who don't use CAT tools, mainly because they aren't interested in the idea and prefer to work in Word.

ES: CAT tools gave us many options for years, but the current 'packages' are also making it less interesting for smart translators to use the tools….
Not being able to change the source text is one of the worst ideas ever implemented in CAT tools.

SK: That's true, especially since I often find typos in the source text!

CM: Sometimes they're handy even in well-written texts to help you ensure consistency over many pages. But then the job becomes more like editing than translating. A lot of my colleagues use their Trados more for checking than actual translation though, of course, that and as a quickfire dic.

TF: E., although I'm the last person to be an expert in CAT tools, I easily managed to change some terribly written source text in Hebrew in memoQ. So if I can change the source text, anyone can

ER: Interesting E., that's a kind of cross-pollination of use of CAT in various texts that can only come about from years of experience with them. I only use CAT once every two years or so on large texts with repetition and also to keep terminology consistent within a text or for a client, etc. Otherwise all non-CAT work. (Dutch-English)

ES: TF, it depends on the CAT tool and the translator. I can too….. but it has become a very complex matter n the NEW CAT tools, as the agencies try to make sure you do not translate the wrong file or make any other mistake. It is now fool-proof which in my opinion makes it only useful to fools!

TF: In memoQ, E. (just edited my original post)

DK: Thanks a lot for your answers!!

EW: Me! But I translate novels…

ES: TF, MemoQ is not walking the fool-proof package route….. Kilgray is smart….

PW: Use them for jobs where there are lots of repetitions or the content is very technical, also when requested by customers. But for a lot of marketing/PR/magazine texts etc. there is no point and dividing the text into segments actually hampers the creative process. So worth using for certain kinds of jobs but not for everything.

Me: I increasingly find CAT tools to be of little use when translating PowerPoint or InDesign documents. Typically, PowerPoint presentations consist of keywords and cues. The usual lack of context is aggravated by the "wrong" segmentation, if you just open such a document with a CAT tool. In fact, you need both to pre-process and post-process presentations when using CAT tools and can save much effort and time (and often achieve better quality results), if translating the original document directly.

WWW: Yep. Me!

MM: I'm one of them too, so far.

JF: V., my experience is the opposite – I find Trados Studio extremely helpful for translating PPT files, and find it much easier in Studio than in PPT. For example, I've never found a quick way to select all the text boxes in the PPT document and change the language to the source language. And I find it much easier to just type in Studio rather than placing the cursor in each PPT text box to overtype. Have you seen Kevin's recent video on translating PPT in Studio and memoQ?

YZ: I only use it when required.

ES: Even when working on 'creative' texts I find my CAT tools useful (mainly memoQ). The material is segmented in easy chops and processing them becomes more streamlined. No window hassle with source and target. But maybe that's just my need for structure . I also agree that consistent use of terminology and exploring your terminology archives from 15 years (not inventing the wheel again) is much easier with the terminology tools at hand (at screen!) when translating in a CAT tool.

JD: Me

GBM: I now have Wordfast and will use on projects where it is useful (and for agencies wanting CAT-tool output), but I refused to use them until this year after trying several and uniformly detesting the experience. I honestly think they harm quality. YMMV.

ES: GBM, If you translate 100 thousand words and then do an addendum of only one thousand using the CAT tool you are happy they exist!
Of course if they do not mess up the DTP you could use Tracked changes/Revision control to find the differences, but this does not work for tables and such!

GBM: E., definitely—there are absolutely times when a CAT tool is a plus.

MDM: I use Trados

CD: I don't use them! I did at first, but when I bought a new computer a couple of years ago I realised I couldn't remember the last time I'd used the CAT tool I had, so I didn't install one on my new computer. I haven't used any CAT tools since.

MDM: Many agencies work with cat tools. Here if you don't use them, you don't work.

WWW: Where's here, M.?

TF: [E., Why do you always use a person’s full name when answering their posts? It seems so artificial and unnaturall to me, living in a country where even 3-year-olds address elderly people by their first names Aren’t we all on a first name basis here too? ]

MDM: Italy but I often work with extra EU countries…

ES: T., if I use the link FB provides the full name in FB is included. When I just use the name, i.e. without the link I just use the first name!
I hate being addressed formally, so it would not be my first choice either!

ES: AND there are few Ts in our groups, but more than one Es, who are very very active!

WWW: I quite like to be addressed as 'Mister WWW'.

MDM: E., you could just do that, like me!

TF: Thanks for the laugh, W.

ES: Mea culpa, I am lazy, I use what FB dishes out

IHM: At the 2009 BDÜ-Konferenz, there was a panel discussion with three or four top notch translators (Chris Durban and three guys whose names I have forgotten) about translation quality and they asked for a show of hands who did or did not use CAT tools. The majority in this room did not.

ES: Interesting, I.!

IHM: Interesting point that emerged from that talk: one of the panel members was the head of IKEA's translation department. He explained that they had been investigating into the notable shift in translation quality. The texts for the catalogues had been slightly "off" and not only for one language but all. And the result of their investigation was that their translators had all acquired a CAT tool and were translating in a more segmented and less creative way. Stuff to think about, innit?

WWW: Now that is reassuring

ER: Yup

PG: All this is music to my ears – I find TM useless for most texts, and I hate the way agencies are trying to force it on us. There was an ITI survey about a year ago that found 40% of people didn't use it.

ES: I would expect less than 4% of people not to use CAT tools, but maybe you are right that 40% of professional translators do not

MDM: I always use them, not on my own initiative…

DC: Do any literary translators use them?

LRK:Have not yet found a way to make sense of CAT use in my work. I do encounter repetition, but the language I translate from routinely includes hugely diverse collections of meanings (even antonyms) for a single word, such that the assumption of automated plug-in for almost any term is not supportable. Passages also rarely repeat in the discursive materials I translate. I want to learn more about CAT, but I feel sure that my translations would suffer if I got too enamored of it. That said, hand-crafting very deliberate and sometimes necessarily intuitive translations is hugely time-consuming, and not yet a viable way to support myself. Given market trends, I'm not sure that financial viability will ever be possible in my language pair, but CAT will not be the way to break out of that limitation.

NF: For me, the main point of CAT tools does not lie in repetitions, but as was already said, in being able to search through TMs or corpora. Terminology management is also wonderful and allows consistency. I use MemoQ for all my projects, whereas I encounter repetitions in less than 10-15% of my work.

AK: I use CAT tools almost from the first day of work and while I do work with manuals and user guides, so there are repetitions, the feature I value most is how a CAT arranges my work in one, clear and convenient window divided to boxes, each with a certain information provided. I use CATs even in less repetitive texts, because they're just more convenient than text processors, which would require me to jump between windows and two walls of text (source and translation). There's no way I could skip or omit anything in the source text thanks to how a CAT helps me arrange the source text to translate.

TG: That's one feature of memoQ, A., that I love (from the little I've used it). I can't skip words or sentences, something I've normally a strong tendency to do.

PG: AK and TK: that seems like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. If you're worried about leaving out text, why not just write the translation underneath each paragraph?

JDD: Because then I would have to delete everything, PG, after I am done. And I could not for the life of me always remember how (or that) I have already translated a sentence one way or another (and done the research). In the tool, I can click on "Clean" and voila! I am still hanging on to an older version of WB (not Studio!) because I like working in Word or TagEditor. I despise the table format. Nothing less intuitive than that. My next investment will be MemoQ but I could not imagine working without a CAT tool. Yes, there is a tendency to "segment" but I can expand segments and shrink them as I would do without an underlying tool. No compromise there.

TF: It's not the same, P. [Caveat: Not that I’m a great fan of CAT tools. Just mentioning a saving grace ]

KS: I decided not to use CAT tools when I saw that there were clients demanding their use for utterly inappropriate jobs (translation of open-ended consumer questionnaires, for example) and discounts for matches.

JDD: You do not have to grant discounts for matches. I am sorry but I purchased the tool (and it was not cheap!) and I have to purchase the updates and pay for training. That is enough moolah out of my pocket. I cannot grant discounts for the use of a tool that I purchased. Makes no sense to me. Now, if the client/agency provides the TM and I can skip 100% matches (at their risk), I won't bill for them. For a context check, I will charge my editing fee. Works not for everybody but it is a way to separate the wheat from the chaff… (agency-wise). And, yes, they will tell you that ALL translators give discounts. But that's not the case…and we (who do not grant discounts for fuzzy matches) survive, too…. quite well, I might add.

AK: I do not grant any discounts either. My CAT tool is for my benefit, not any agency's. After all, *I* paid for it.

Me: Finally, I feel like I am not alone Really enjoying the discussion. Feel like copying/archiving/preserving all the comments (arguments for future use) or perhaps making them public and easier to find, accessible not for the members of this group only. Anonimising the comments and posting a compilation on a blog? What do you think?

KS: As other people have said, the odd segmentation is often a problem, especially in Japanese>English translation, because the word order is so different. In addition, in a program like Wordfast Pro, with its placeables, sometimes I don't know where to put them because they're next to an element that has no direct English translation.

FK: Guilty as charged.

ES: Valerij, seeing your blogs are usually interesting and well-written you have my blessing!

Me: Thank you, E! I am really playing with the idea to put it all together, strike out the names (or leave only initials) and post on a page where it can always be found and commented if need be. The power of centralization instead of centralization of power. I have no idea about the percentage of those who use CATs and those who don't, but I think it's worthwhile to offset the idea that you're not a translator if you don't use CATs. And – so many valuable arguments pro & contra, would be a pity if all this disappears in the depths of Facebook history.

IHM: Well, there is a whole bunch of us still alive and kicking from the time Crados didn't even exist. They sure as hell changed the course of history but not in a way they can be proud of. Nor should we be proud for swallowing the deal hook, line and sinker. It would be interesting to include in the thread the number of people who actually got a CAT tool and keep it in a drawer, so to speak, because at some point they were tired of thinking and talking in segments and using ideas a machine suggested instead of their brain. I actually have two and I hardly use one of them. And I will be obliged to get a third, because that's the way it is now. I don't have to like it.

AK: My CAT doesn't suggest any ideas I hadn't put into it first and I use my brain, thank you very much. (CATs are not a machine translation!) I'm not a worse translator just because I use a tool I consider convenient. There surely are translators who started working before computers were in common use. I wonder what they think of all those who use computers today – too lazy to use ol' good pen and paper? Not everything has to be for everyone and or fit everyone's style of work or habits, but I don't see a reason to offend those who chose a different style of work.

PS: People who don't use CAT tools are those who still can't appreciate smartphones over b/w Nokia phones from 10 yrs ago. And you can edit the source also in WF Pro.

Me: Actually, this sounds wise:

Seth Godin - Now It's Ruined

IHM: A., I don't know for how long you've been doing this, but believe me that the suggestions from a tool are coming from a machine, even if you put them there in the first place and the way the machine suggests possible translations to you is totally dependent on the respective CAT tool, the context, the job details that you configured and the time of day. And yes, it's not machine translation

AK: And I have brain to accept the suggestion or to reject it and translate the text in the new context accordingly, or improve my translation (as with time and experience happens; I already dumped my database twice as outdated and/or useless). Using a CAT doesn't mean I blindly accept any suggestion. My language pair, English to Polish, often means that English identical sentences are not 100% matches in Polish due to complicated Polish grammar. I just don't appreciate the claim I don't think when working. But if there is something that makes my work smoother (and as I wrote a bit earlier, it's not even the repetitions or the terms database), I don't see a reason not to use it. If someone doesn't want to use it, I don't tell them they're worse translators and I'd rather they didn't attack my choice of working style or my intelligence.

Me: AK, I really don't think anyone said translators who use CATs are worse translators (it's rather the opposite BTW, least professional at least, that is what the CAT-less hear). I don't think anyone attacked here someone. No offense meant!

AK: Maybe no offence was meant, but I took the comment about not using brain quite personally. It was hardly a compliment.

No, I just wanted to know if I'm one of the lot of the few translators who still NOT usins a CAT-tool

IHK: In every discussion someone will invariably feel offended. That' bound to happen in a multicultural and multilingual context. I still think that a brain works differently when it has to come up with a solution from scratch or get one presented on a silver salver. Not saying that there aren't colleagues here who think twice before accepting that solution. We all should. But there are people who don't.

JD: There is some evidence that the same person will translate differently with and without a CAT tool and even some discussion as to whether what was supposed to help our profession has actually had a negative effect. No, I don't think it is a question of people being techno-phobic or not (as per the Nokia comment). It's a question of working habits, text types and what we value.

Me: Great words, J.!

ES: P., I have embraced computers, CAT tools and more for longer than most. I was a COBOL programmer at 16 (with punched cards) and LOVE computers. I am also a person who only uses the phone to be called in case of an emergency. I have a very old mobile, and replace it with a new model basic phone when required through its demise. On the other hand I translated the newest options for mobiles for years. I just do not see the point of being able to be at someone's beck and call when out of the house and/or office. My mobile/cell phone is with me to warn me of a major emergency, all else can wait.

My children have smart phones and use them I do not need it. BUT I do need fast computers and fast tools.

Even if in most cases your assessment is true, there are exceptions!

PS: I really had the feeling that someone claimed as "brainless" the use of CAT tools the sort of tools for trained monkey (Computer+Ape Translating) VS. fine, intellectual and sophisticated linguists who are real artists, while the others are mere labourers. CATs help me not to skip segments, to maintain consistency and to translate faster. I can really use my own memory as a complement to the automation provided by CATs. I can't really see how a technical translator could live without CATs.

GG: IHM, talking about IKEA… I know that they use a CSM system for some of their online stuff… that's segmented and there are strict limitations for text and you can't use a CAT…

HF: I use CAT tools for my technical stuff, but quite often, with marketing, press and other media texts it doesn't work out, as consistency is counterproductive and a stilistic nightmare in these texts quite frequently.

GG: Also, most (good) agencies are aware that using a CAT for some texts is not ideal (see the IKEA story), nevertheless, their clients insist on them because they save money (read pay less for repetitions). So, they are prepared to put up with lower quality in order to save money…

JD: Some light reading:

Translation technology

GG: Well, as usual, the problem is not the technology itself, but how, when and why you use it…

Me: In other words, G., the problem is – always was – humans (just translating your words)

GG: Sometimes it's the technology too…

IHM: Maybe someone will compile on a blog the countless shouts for help in FB and other groups, related to CAT tools not working properly. That seems to be the downside of increased productivity.

ES: In the old days we ran out of paper…..

IHM: Oh, as to that, I usually run out of ink when I need to print something urgently, which is rare. And I know where to find paper, wheras it seems to be complicated to get support for some CAT tools ('nuff said)

ES: If and when I have a problem with a specific CAT I just check the Internet. Other people have invariably had the same issues and I find what I need. I must say it happens once in a blue moon. I have more often than not resolved other translator's issues with their CATs. I am a CAT lover and know how to stroke them so they will not scratch me!

JD: Someone needs to invent translation software with DOG as the acronym. Goodness knows, our industry is short of things to debate.

Me: JD, I already have something with DOG for the opening (no acronym, but both funny and memorable I hope

ES: Translators never work like a DOG, and are never DOG tired as they only work with or without a CAT tool


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