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AutoHotkey script to move the focus away from the Concordance window

Sometimes you want to keep the MemoQ Concordance window open on your second screen while you work on your document. But there’s no built-in method to achieve this with the keyboard. You can only do so by clicking with the mouse.

This short script moves the focus away from the Concordance window and to the main MemoQ window, allowing you to work on the document while keeping the Concordance window open. Just press ctrl+k to activate the script.


#IfWinActive, Concordance
^k:: ; MemoQ: Move focus away from Concordance window
WinActivate memoQ
#IfWinActive
return

The following script closes the Concordance window. Continue reading

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Spot the foreign-language influence

Amazon.com: For If The Flies - t-shirt: Clothing

¡Por si las moscas!

Anyone translator living in his or her source-language country needs to watch out for source-language interference. Similarly, an author who writes in one language but lives in a country that speaks a different language needs to be wary of interference from the host country’s language.

Today, Google recommended an article to me in which I noticed foreign-language interference almost from the beginning. See if you can spot it too in this article about the level of English in Spain, then click on “Continue reading” to reveal the answers.

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Useful links related to PerfectIt

PerfectIt checks: A brief explanation of each check performed by PerfectIt, with links to a full explanation.

PerfectIt style sheets: Information on working with style sheets and customising them.

PerfectIt settings tab: What the options in the Settings tab do and how to configure them.

Introduction to MS Word wildcards: An exercise providing a basic introduction to using wildcards in Microsoft Word. Includes links to other, more comprehensive resources on Word wildcards.

Users’ Facebook group: A Facebook group for PerfectIt users. Users ask how to configure certain settings. Particularly useful if you can’t get a wildcard search working.

Associations offering discounts: a list of associations whose members are entitled to a discount on PerfectIt.

Interested in a workshop?

I organise PerfectIt workshops for translators’ and editors’ associations in which I provide an overview of the program, then delve into its advanced features. I usually end with an interactive section in which participants can ask me how to enforce certain style rules using PerfectIt. For more information, write to the e-mail address found on my main website.

If you have already attended one of my workshops and have not received How-to…with-PerfectIt4.pdf, send me an e-mail and I’ll send you a copy.

IntelligentEditing’s playlist on building stylesheets

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On the usefulness of machine translation (hear me out!)

Colleagues who know me know that I’m not a proponent of offering machine translation post-editing as a service. There is just so much to fix in a machine-translated text that it’s not a productive way of working, especially if you’re a perfectionist like me, who would find it to difficult to leave a sentence alone if the translation can be understood but could be improved.

Nevertheless, I don’t belong to the camp who believe that machine translation (MT) is never useful. In fact, I challenge anyone to tell me that MT would not save them time if they were translating the following sentence.

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WFS Live Review

Used with permission by World Football Summit

This year I had been looking forward to attending one of the World Football Summit events, either in Madrid or in Durban. Sadly, like so many other events this year, COVID-19 stopped play before it even began, but the World Football Summit did a wonderful job at organizing an online event in their stead. Here are some of my thoughts about WFS Live, which took place online from 6-10 July.

One of the advantages of the event being online was that it attracted a more international audience, rather than the usual crowd from Europe and North America. There were many attendees from all over Africa and Asia. The speaker line-up was also impressive, no doubt helped by the fact that it was far easier for top speakers to fit an online event into their agendas than it would have been for them to fly perhaps half way around the world to attend an event in person.

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For your critical documents, don’t trust a translator!

Hear me out… You’ve spent days or weeks working with a team to fine-tune your document before it is published. Now, it’s time to get it translated, so all you need is a good translator, right?

Wrong. If you needed a team to put together the original version, what makes you think a translator working alone will produce what you need? For your most critical documents, don’t trust a translator, trust a translation team. If you hire a translator who will work with another colleague, you’re more likely to receive a translation that has the same impact as the text you produced.

My workflow varies from project to project. For instance, for a recent document that had lots of short, catchy titles, I had a brainstorming session on the phone with my colleague, but I wouldn’t do that for every project. Here’s a typical workflow I might use when working with a colleague on an important document:

Step 1 – My first version: The fact my work will be read by an accomplished colleague shouldn’t make any difference. But I’ll be honest with you: it does. My reputation is important to me, and I know my colleague will pick up on anything that doesn’t quite sound right, or worse, any blatant mistranslations. So I read my work a little more carefully before passing it on. For some parts of the text, I even offer two solutions and leave a note asking my colleague which one he or she prefers.

Step 2 – My colleague’s edits: My colleague reads my work through carefully, edits it to improve the text, and adds additional comments with other ideas.

Step 3 – I go through all my colleague’s changes. Some of them I accept; some I reject; some I replace with a better idea.

Step 4 – My colleague looks at my feedback, and makes additional suggestions.

Step 5 – Depending on how much discussion is still taking place, I’ll either finalise the text or get on the phone and discuss the last few points.

Step 6 – I read through the entire text one last time in English to check the overall flow of the text before sending it to the client.

If it took an entire team to draft your document, or you had five different versions before you produced the definitive one, don’t have it translated by a translator working alone. Find a team.

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Izaskun Orkwis’s article on institutional translation

I first met Izaskun Orkwis at the 1st International Conference of Economic, Business, Financial and Institutional Translation, when my only institutional client was the OECD. Since then, she’s given me some great advice on how to get my feet in the door of international institutions.

In an article for the latest edition of the ATA Chronicle, Izaskun draws on her experience with international institutions to explain some of the quirks of working for them and how to ensure your translation is fit for purpose. The article is packed with pearls of wisdom. Here, I highlight just a few, with some additional remarks based on my own experience:

“the different language versions must match exactly, including all nuances and formal structure…replacing parentheses with commas may be fine in other contexts, but not in institutional translation”

 

“There will be humongous databases and parallel corpora that will be both a blessing…and a curse (sometimes you must reuse previous language, unchanged).”

Sometimes I’ve translated 3,000 word documents in 15 minutes, as nearly the entire document is a recycled version of an old one in the translation memory. But as Izaskun says, sometimes the databases are a curse. This is especially true when you find inconsistencies in the memory and you spend far more time deciding which previous version to use than you would have spent just translating it from scratch.

“the institutional translator must…lose their individual voice…the translated document, just like the original, belongs to the institution, which is its sole author”

 

“the institutional translator must…adopt the institution’s working methods”

The latter is particularly challenging for those of us who do short-term contracts for various institutions, as the working methods vary from one institution to another. To give just one example, the World Trade Organization uses Trados Studio (with two different workflows, depending on the type of document), whereas the United Nations Office at Geneva has its own computer-assisted translation tool that runs in the browser. Some institutions require you to upload your translation to a portal; others ask you to save it to a shared network drive.

“the institutional translator must…adhere to vetted terminology”

Izaskun goes on to say that you should consult a terminologist if you feel the need to depart from the vetted terminology. In the work I’ve done, I tend only to have to consult one of the revisers, not a terminologist.

Sometimes the solution in the terminology database is not what the more senior translation staff actually use. In such cases, if I were working at home, with my own setup, I would quickly edit the entry in my termbase, but in an institutional setting, terminology vetting is a complex process and it can take a long time for the entry to be corrected. It gets even more complicated if you suggest a change to the editorial manual. Since it is used by all the UN offices, someone in Geneva can’t just change something without consulting colleagues in New York, Nairobi and elsewhere, which is perhaps why we’re still not allowed to make country names possessive, despite the fact that every UN translator I’ve ever spoken to hates the rule!

“whenever there’s a quote from or a reference to a previous document, no matter how long or short, you must assume there exists a previous translation that needs to be found and reused”

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I’m back…

A few days ago, I got a message from Luke Spear to say I’d been included in his 75-strong blogroll post on his website. I was delighted to be included, but also a little embarrassed, as my latest post was four months old, and even that was just a discount code for booking.com. My latest real post, my review of the 2018 [sic!] Yacht Racing Forum, was over a year old!

It was not for want of things to write about, as 2019 was a hectic year for me. In fact, that was precisely the problem. Too much to do, not enough time to blog.

The post by fellow British Institute in Paris alumnus Luke Spear was the kick up the backside I needed to update my blog. In future, I should have more free time available because I’ve hired an assistant to take care of some of the many admin tasks I have to deal with (more on that in a future post).

A year in Dundee

Tay Bridge, the gateway to Dundee by train.

Tay Bridge, the gateway to Dundee by train. (Click on any of the photos in this blog to see a full resolution version.)

As many ScotNetters will know, in September 2018 my wife began a master’s degree at the University of Dundee. Just two and a half years after my big move to Namibia, it was time to say au revoir to the Mother Continent and hello to the Old Continent. I’d been away from Europe for little over half a lustrum (a favourite word of mine, so had to sneak it in), but it was my first time living in Britain since I’d left her shores and moved to Paris in 1999. How would it feel being back? Would the whole Brexit saga make me just want to leave? Would I get reverse culture shock? Continue reading

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Yacht Racing Forum 2018, in Lorient

At the end of October, I attended the 2018 Yacht Racing Forum. Organised by Geneva-based MaxComm Communication, this year’s edition visited Lorient, in a part of Brittany that is marketed as the Bretagne Sailing Valley because of the huge impact that sailing has on the local economy (see the tweet below).

The Sailing Valley

Taking the forum to Lorient was an excellent decision, but taking it there just a fortnight before the start of the Route du Rhum was a master stroke. Thanks to the location and the timing, the organisers attracted dozens of the key players involved in the race, including a good number of the actual sailors. Continue reading

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Financial translation CPD part 2: the 2018 Financial Translation Summer School in Brussels

After attending the 3rd ICEBFIT conference in Alicante then spending a few days with friends in the Barcelona area, I was glad to be escaping the scorching hot and humid conditions of the Mediterranean and jetting off to Brussels, where I could cool down a bit. Or so I thought… Turned out it was almost as hot, so I’d travelled half way around the world with a thick coat for nothing. And at times the heat felt worse, as northern Europe is far less prepared for it than the south, so there is often no air conditioning on public transport or in buildings.

Anyway, enough about the weather.

I was in the Belgian capital for part 2 of my financial translation CPD trip, at the 2018 Financial Translation Summer School (UETF), which is organised every even-numbered year by Société française des traducteurs (SFT) (non-members may attend). This year’s UETF was hosted by BNP Parisbas Fortis at its headquarters, conveniently located right in the heart of Brussels, just around the corner from the Central Station. The auditorium was excellent, the facilities top-notch and the two huge screens perfect for reading every last detail of presenters’ slides without squinting. A rather different experience from the dingy classrooms and noisy air conditioning units in Alicante a week earlier!

I had been a little apprehensive about going, as I expected the list of attendees to be dominated by translators who know financial reports like the back of their hand, translators who can tell you the ins and outs of the Basel III liquidity rules without consulting any notes. Would a translator who focused on macroeconomic reports feel out of depth in a sea of financial translators sensu stricto? With a price tag of €795, I didn’t want to go if I wasn’t going to learn anything relevant to my line of work. Continue reading

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