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Machine Translation

001I don’t know if you can recall these games from when you were a kid?  I used to spend hours trying to find all the differences between the image on the left and the one on the right.  I never once thought how that might become a useful skill in later life… although in some cases it’s a skill I’d rather not have to develop!

You may be wondering where I’m going with this so I’ll explain.  Last weekend the SFÖ held a conference in Umeå, Sweden… I wasn’t there, but I did get an email from one of my colleagues asking how you could see what changes had been made in your bilingual files as a result of post-editing Machine Translation.  The easy answer of course is to do the post-editing with your track changes switched on, then it’s easy to spot the difference.  That is useful, but it’s not going to help with measurement, or give you something useful to be able to discuss with your client.  It’s also not going to help if you didn’t work with tracked changes in the first place because you’d need some serious spot the difference skills to evaluate your work!

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001Last week I spent a few days in Amsterdam talking community with a group of SDL people.  We were there to see how we can shape the community and make it a place where anyone using our products, or just thinking about using them, will be able to find what they need, talk about them or just share experiences in a safe friendly environment.  Actually it’s a lot more than a safe friendly environment… it’s the only place where you can say what you think and guarantee it’ll be seen by the right people in SDL.  This could be product managers, developers, support engineers, sales guys, marketing teams, the CEO of the company… and even I have a part to play!  It’s also full of real product experts… so your peers who have years of experience and know how the products behave.  Things don’t always work the way it says in the book, and the book definitely doesn’t cover everything that’s possible!  But if you have a question, more than likely it’ll be something your fellow community members have come across before, and if they haven’t there’s a good chance they’ll have something interesting to say about it! Read More

01Machine Translation or not Machine Translation… is this the question?  It’s a good question and one that gets discussed at length in many places, but it’s not the question I want to consider today.  Machine Translation has its place and it’s a well established part of the translation workflow for many professionals today.  The question I want to consider today is whether you should hide the fact you are using Machine Translation or not?

This is a question that comes up from time to time and it has consumed my thoughts this evening quite a bit, particularly after a discussion in a ProZ forum this afternoon, that’s still running after three years, so I decided to take a step back and think about my position on this question and whether I’m being unreasonable or not.  My position at the start of this article is that you should not hide the fact you are using Machine Translation. Read More

001The AutoSuggest feature in Studio has been around since the launch of Studio 2009 and based on the questions I see from time to time I think it’s a feature that could use a little explanation on what it’s all about.  In simple terms it’s a mechanism for prompting you as you type with suggested target text that is based on the source text of the document you are translating.  So sometimes it might be a translation of some or all of the text in the source segment, and sometimes it might be providing an easy way to replicate the source text into the target.  This is done by you entering a character via the keyboard and then Studio suggests suitable text that can be applied with a single keystroke.  In terms of productivity this is a great feature and given how many other translation tools have copied this in one form or another I think it’s clear it really works too!

AutoSuggest comes from a number of different sources, some out of the box with every version of the product, and some requiring a specific license.  The ability to create resources for AutoSuggest is also controlled by license for some things, but not for all.  When you purchase Studio, any version at all, you have the ability to use the AutoSuggest resources out of the box from three places: Read More

001Best practice!  This is a phrase I’ve had a love/hate relationship with over the course of my entire career… or maybe it’s just a love to hate!  The phrase is something that should perhaps be called “Best Suggestions” and not “Best Practice” because all too often I think it’s used to describe the way someone wants you to work as opposed to anything that represents the views of a majority of users over a long period of time, or anything that takes account the way different people want to work.  In fact with new technology how can it be “Best Practice” when it hasn’t been around long enough in the first place?  I think for a clearly defined and well established process then “Best Practice” has it’s place… but otherwise it’s often the easy answer to a more complex problem, or just a problem that is considered too hard to address.

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#01A couple of weeks ago I was asked about certification by one of our Business Consultants… in fact she asked me if I was certified?  Thoughts of being carried away by men in white coats crossed my mind at the very mention of the word “certified”… but I digress!

When I joined SDL at the end of 2006 the first SDL Certification programme was just getting pulled together, and my team were responsible for the technical content, working closely with our enthusiastic marketing team.  We had pretty tight timescales to deliver it, with three levels – Getting Started, Intermediate and Advanced.  All based around two products – Translators Workbench 2007 and SDLX 2007.  I can remember now the amount of effort that it took to prepare this from all the teams involved (Jenny, Tracey, Denise, Argyro… all put in a tremendous effort to make it a reality), and then more work in ensuring all our trainers were certified and had been through our train the trainer courses so they could deliver the certification training to lots of enthusiastic translators and project managers.  Notwithstanding this we also wanted the material in other languages and this was a brilliant introduction for me into the world of a busy Language Service Provider as I was told in no uncertain terms on a number of occasions what a poor client we were!  It was indeed a good education in those early months at SDL.  I can also remember the long… long… long… telephone conversations with some of our enthusiastic customers who went through the certification and then didn’t agree with the answers!  I can see the men in white coats running through my garden towards me as I think about all of this… but I survived!

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Updated: 14 January 2015

Today SDL is all about SDL Language Cloud and not BeGlobal, but I hope the article is still as relevant today.  There are more ways to look at how you use Machine Translation so if you’re interested take a look at these two more recent articles as well.

The ins and outs of AutoSuggest

Language Cloud… word-counts… best practice?

The title of this post could be quite tricky to translate in many languages because not everyone uses the expression in the same way, and certainly don’t use the same words.  I chose this especially because I thought I’d write a little about using Machine Translation in SDL Trados Studio.

I’m not going to talk about properly trained Machine Translation engines such as SDL BeGlobal, which can be configured and improved to provide remarkably good translations in a short period of time for very large numbers of words… so achieving economies of scale that would be unthinkable with human resources alone.  Instead, I’m going to talk about how a Translator can make use of the growing number of Machine Translation resources in a way that might make sense for them.

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