mardi 26 avril 2011

Is proprietary translation support software worth it?

I'm a happy Ubuntu user, but the reality is that there are still a lot of Word files flying around in the commercial environment. A combination of Open Office and OmegaT seems to handle them quite well, but on my latest job I experienced a number of formatting difficulties that had to be corrected manually, which was both time-consuming and introduced a new potential source for error.

Open Office crashed on me recently, just as I was tweaking a final .docx file before sending it off. Its automated recovery process then recovered the file to a previous version, causing errors to be reintroduced that had already been corrected in a proofing stage. This was vexing, and required another round of corrections.

One obvious way to avoid such problems in future would be to use the industry standard proprietary solutions. I priced this today: Microsoft Office plus SDL Trados Studio 2009 would be at least 650 euros, a considerable overhead given prevailing market rates for translation.

The decision for the time being is to upgrade to the latest and greatest LibreOffice, and persist with OmegaT, but it's under review. Version control problems caused by software crashes are most unwelcome.

dimanche 24 avril 2011

Running with the ProZ

I regularly update a list of significant projects on my professional profile at I recently paid for full membership to the site in order to bid for a job going by within my fields of interest: and landed it! Which was pleasing. The short test translation of 50 French words translated straight-forwardly into 38 words in English. The site announced ten bids for the job when I went back to look a few hours later, but it was my bid that received a return offer towards the end of the afternoon last Tuesday.

The work required the translation from the French to English of several abstracts and full papers for a specialist healthcare conference to be held later this year. Of the full papers, the longer was fully within the scope of my professional interests in health care and information technology; the other had some straight-forward clinical material, combined with some technical detail in a subject that I have to confess I had contemplated only in the most superficial way in the past.

The search for background information online to assist in my comprehension of this arcana was necessarily brisk, as the first tranche of the delivery had a deadline less than forty eight hours away. That slight hump surmounted, the deadline was easily met.

The longer paper, due last, has had its moments, as my dear old Aunt Margaret used to say, but I now have the comfortable satisfaction of a fair copy of the final draft circulating in-house for minor corrections fully 24 hours before I had initially planned to send it off, and 36 hours inside the deadline.