MINUTES OF 2015 NORDIC DIVISION YEARLY MEETING

30/11/2015

Date: November 6, 2015

Place: Hyatt Regency Miami, Miami, Florida

Present: Tapani Ronni, Anna Herinerén, Tuomas Kostiainen, Lisa Dahlander, Charlotte Brasler, Richard S. Sciata, Susanne Fleischer, Alice Wolfe, Dorte Scheeler, Tess Whitty, Dee Shields

  1. Call to order

Administrator Tapani Ronni (TR) called the meeting to order at 12:35 pm.

  1. Acceptance of agenda

The agenda was accepted as presented.

  1. Approval of minutes of last year’s meeting

The Nordic Division (ND) annual meeting minutes from the 55th annual meeting in Chicago, IL, were presented and accepted without correction.

  1. ND overview for 2015 (TR)
  • The number of ND members as of October 2015 was 492.
  • The ND LinkedIn group is active and useful: there have been ten postings, including the minutes from the last ND annual meeting in Chicago.
  • The ND Web site is very static. It was designed by the former administrator.
  • The ND blog is also very static. The Webmaster is ND vice-administrator Charles Ek (CE). We need new material, i.e. articles, which must be approved by the ATA before posting.
  • There is a Facebook page created and administered by Tess Whitty (TW): it is meant to be a less formal forum for discussion, but it has not had much activity.
  • The annual ND dinner will be held at Fratelli Milano, 213 SE First Street, Miami, FL 33131, at 7:15 pm on Saturday, November 8. The venue is only two blocks away. We’ll meet in the hotel lobby at 7:00 pm and walk there. There is no set menu, and everyone will pay individually. At this point, about 12 are coming to the dinner.
  • It was decided (vote by show of hands) that the dinner next year would be on the Thursday, like most other divisions have.
  • We managed to get a Distinguished Speaker for this year: Richard Sciabà from Norway. Thanks to Elisabet Tiselius for helping to find him. He has two presentations tomorrow (Saturday): Translating Norwegian Texts at 8:30 am and Compassion Fatigue: Risk Factors and Prevention for Interpreters at 11:15 am.
  • The current ND leadership council is TR, CE, TW, Catrine Modig, Tom Ellett and Lisa Dahlander. Thor Truelson has expressed interest in joining; TW wished to leave.
  • The question was asked why there were so many members (492), yet so few attending the meeting? One reason given by TR is that division membership is free so we have many inactive members. The largest number attending ever was when the conference was in New York City.
  1. New business for 2015
  • The conference will be in San Francisco next year. ND topics and speakers are needed, and ideas for distinguished speakers are especially welcome.
  • The administrator’s term limit is coming up: he cannot serve as administrator after next year according to ATA rules. TR asked for indications of interest in serving as the next administrator: the division is very small, and there is very little work to the position. CE could take over if he wanted to (CE was not present at the meeting). Technically, TR could serve as acting administrator until someone else takes over. There are no volunteers at this time, so the nominating committee was asked to search. TR was heartily thanked by all members present for his service.
  • TR asked if anyone else would like to join the council. There were no volunteers from the floor. Other members after TW’s resignation are Catrine Modig, Tom Ellett and Lisa Dahlander.
  • The nominating committee (NC) consisted of Tuomas Kostiainen (TK) only, since Jane Kjems resigned this year. TK said that at least two new members were needed, and TW and Charlotte Brasler volunteered, so now the committee has three members. The rules say that the nominating committee cannot nominate themselves for positions.
  1. Adjournment

The meeting was adjourned at 12:53 pm.


MINUTES OF 2014 NORDIC DIVISION YEARLY MEETING

04/11/2015

Date: November 6, 2014

Place: Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers, Chicago, Illinois

Present: Tapani Ronni, Diane Manown, John Foulks, Jill Timbers, Tuomas Kostiainen, Sonia Wichmann, Hannie Nordlund, Laura Nordlund, Tess Whitty, Anna Hamers, Irmeli Kuehnel, Tom Ellett, Bruce Maylath, Erling Dugan, Catrine Modig Dirgin, Henrik Nilsson

  1. Call to order

Administrator Tapani Ronni (TR) called the meeting to order at 12:20 pm.

  1. Acceptance of agenda

The agenda was accepted as presented.

  1. Approval of minutes of last year’s meeting

The Nordic Division (ND) annual meeting minutes from the 54th annual meeting in San Antonio, TX, were presented and accepted without correction.

  1. ND overview for 2014 (TR)
  • The number of ND members as of September 2014 was 496.
  • There is a Facebook page administered by Tess Whitty: it is meant to be a forum for discussion, but there is not much activity.
  • Other activities: LinkedIn. Asked what the other divisions do, TR answered that many divisions have newsletters. The ND used to have one, but there was very little response, so we are trying social media instead. Some divisions have mid-year conferences.
  • The annual dinner will be held at Tre Kronor: we will meet in the lobby at 6:25 and take cabs to get there.
  • This year the distinguished speaker was from Sweden: Henrik Nilsson. There were about 22 people at his seminar (G) on Wednesday; it seemed to be a success. He will be attending the ND dinner. This is our first distinguished speaker since 2009.
  • The ND leadership council: TR was re-elected administrator and Charles Ek vice-administrator, both by acclamation. TR requested that more members join the council. Other members: Tess Whitty, Catrine Modig, Tom Ellett and Lisa Dahlander.
  • The nominating committee (NC) consisted of Tuomas Kostiainen (TK) and Jane Kjems. TK said that at least two new members were needed. Duties are to nominate the division administrator and vice-administrator, but anyone can submit their name. The idea is for the previous administrator not to pick his/her own followers. The procedure is that the NC either asks the current administrator to continue or asks other division members if they are willing to run, or they can put forward several names. The ATA then announces the candidates and asks if anyone else wishes to nominate themselves, but, as TR says, not many people come forward. It can be easy – contact a candidate for admin/vice-admin and both accept – or it can be difficult to find candidates willing to stand.
  1. New business for 2015
  • The conference will be in Miami next year.
  • TR requested ideas for new activities.
  • TR explained that he is permitted to send out e-mails only four times a year, but plans to send out a broadcast in 2015 asking members to volunteer to work on the LinkedIn and other activities.
  • Henrik Nilsson (distinguished speaker) pointed out that anyone in the division could request the slides from his session if they wished. The Nordic Terminology Association holds a three-day annual meeting – next year in Iceland – at the beginning of June, and there’s always something about translation in the program. The languages are Scandinavian, sometimes English or interpreting into Finnish. The Association has a termbank in all Nordic languages, even Greenlandic. There are about 300,000 terms at Rikstermbanken.se. Nordterm is an umbrella organization for future joint terminological termbanks, including the Bank of Finnish Terminology; the termbank projects can be found at nordterm.net. There is also a Termlist course for 7.5 credits held online with one teacher from each of the Nordic countries. It has already been held three times, but it’s about terminology, not translation. Funding was applied for, but denied because it wasn’t in English. There are assignments and a final assessment. Hopefully the next course will be held next autumn. There is also a conference every two years; the next one is in 2015. www.termlist.no.
  • Bruce Maylath said he was writing a book about what technical translators should know. He was looking for “horror stories” about what happens when a client doesn’t understand what translation is.
  1. Adjournment

The meeting was adjourned at 12:49 pm.


Unparalleled success as a translator – with a Macintosh

03/12/2014

by Charles Ek

Assistant Administrator

Nordic Division

 

I am a freelance translator working from the Scandinavian languages (Danish, Norwegian and Swedish) into English. My specialty is legal translation – I previously practiced law for five years. I also have substantial experience in the areas of commercial insurance and environmental matters. I started my translation business five years ago, in 2009.

My involvement with Macintosh computers predates that event by some twenty-five years. I cannot claim to be the first purchaser of a Macintosh when it arrived in 1984, but I was among the very early ones. Since that time, I have exclusively used Macintosh computers for both my personal use and eventually for my legal practice and my translation business. I have used Windows-based machines in the past, but only when required by an employer to do so.

When I first contemplated starting a translation business, I quickly faced a choice: Stay with what I liked, or switch to what I was told I had to have to be successful. Luckily, I had advice from the poet Robert Frost in his poem “The Road Not Taken”, which I commend to everyone, regardless of whether you’re choosing an operating system or a career path.

My choice was made enormously easier by the availability of a native Macintosh version of OmegaT, an open source computer-assisted translation tool. I will leave it to another time or another writer to plumb the depths of this application’s usefulness for translators. Let me just say it plainly:

In five years, there has not been one day I have regretted not having another CAT tool available on my computer.

Admittedly, my work as a legal translator is well suited to OmegaT. I work primarily with Microsoft Office documents or files that can be converted more or less easily to the various other formats that OmegaT now handles in stride, after some very early issues. (More on the “less easily” part in a moment.) I know that other CAT tools are possibly better suited for specific situations. I work as the sole translator on a project more than ninety percent of the time, so I rarely have to share anything other than a finished translation. If the need arises, I can import and export TMX-formatted translation memories. I have happily washed my hands of any demands to produce so-called “unclean” files, and it hasn’t put any noticeable dent in my revenues or profits over the last five years.

I quit making glossaries a very long time ago, even though OmegaT handles them nicely. Whenever I find an online glossary or other resource that will be helpful, I simply copy it (where legal!) to my desktop machine. The Macintosh operating system includes an amazing application called Spotlight, which rapidly searches the entire hard drive at my command. It takes moments to know whether I have some file showing either the meaning of a term or at least its use in context. Accessing that content then requires a couple of mouse clicks.

Ah, what’s that you say? Yes, I’m aware that I could be running many other CAT tools and other Windows-based applications with the aid of Parallels (or some other arrangement) that would allow me to run such software on my Macs. But I don’t feel the need, my experience has borne that out, and there are technical and financial burdens with such arrangements that I choose to avoid.

Surely I have lost jobs because of my intransigence, you say. Well, yes, but the losses have been virtually painless, and not nearly as frequent as those unfamiliar with Macintosh capabilities would have you believe. Time after time, a project manager has realized (or knew all along) that the end user of the translation really could not care less how it was produced, except to the extent that affected the cost.

Apart from OmegaT, what applications are open regularly on my machines? Almost from the start, I felt compelled to abandon OpenOffice.org and NeoOffice, two fine office suites, in favor of Microsoft Office for Mac (I currently use the 2008 package.) There were too many formatting problems switching back and forth with files, something that rightly irritated my customers when it happened. I realize that things may have changed on that front, so do not take this as the last word on the subject!

After spending a few years trying different ways to convert electronic and scanned PDF files to Word documents (for use in OmegaT), I have mostly settled on Abbyy FineReader Pro for Mac. This usually does a good job. When things go badly, as occasionally happens with files with tiny print, non-editable images inserted and/or other horrors, you can hear me wailing across this continent and the adjoining oceans. That’s why there is prior agreement on an hourly surcharge for translating such entertainments, or I walk away.

My browser is Apple’s Safari, which time and again proves capable of running Web-based applications deemed necessary by someone I do business with. (I was once told I was the first person to complete the U.S. government’s security clearance application with Safari.) My timesheet application for hourly billing is the Web-based Paymo 3, which I use infrequently but happily. My accounting application is Quicken 2007, which has survived despite some near-death experiences with abandonment by its publisher. My invoices are done online via ProZ.com, and I love that approach for its simplicity and reliability when billing and tracking payments (and chasing amounts outstanding …) My e-mail application is Apple’s Mail, which does a great job for me except when I will be away from my office for more than a day. There is no good way to set up an out-of-office autoreply. Shocking, but true.

For those times when I am literally in the woods, my contacts, bookmarks and calendar are seamlessly synched via Apple’s iCloud service for my desktop iMac, MacBook Pro laptop, iPhone and iPad. I bought my first iPhone the day I lost a job because I had to leave my computer to go to a doctor’s appointment and a request to confirm my availability arrived five minutes later. My favorite iPhone story came a month later. I was out in the woods in the pre-dawn darkness of the first day of turkey hunting season. A translation agency contacted me via e-mail, and I quoted and got the job before the sun came over the horizon. Why is this my favorite story? Because the agency was located in … Turkey.

As for the miscellany: I use three offline dictionary applications that suffer slightly from not having all the features of their Windows counterparts. Skype now runs like a champ, after a few years of my avoiding its midlife Mac crises by refusing to update it until they got it right. (Microsoft acquired the company along the way and eventually forced everyone to update, which nearly required dental work to repair damage from clenching my teeth while I installed the update.) I’ve done a limited amount of subtitling with ExpressScribe, which has mostly worked quite well. I do not discuss security protection publicly, for reasons that are apparent. Suffice it to say that I sleep quite well.

You will notice a dearth of references to Adobe products. I would say more, but I know what legal fees can amount to. My regular PDF reader is Apple’s Preview, and I use the excellent independently-published GraphicConverter for any heavy lifting in converting and exporting graphic files. If the need arises, I can easily make annotations on highlighted text in PDF files using Preview. A click on the highlighted portion opens a text box that appears to the left of the document.

So, after five years I know – and now you do – the outcome to the choice I made when two roads diverged.

Exit smiling.


Macintosh environment with Windows tools – user experiences

03/12/2014

Tapani Ronni

Nordic Division Administrator
I have been a committed Windows user since version 3.1. While Macs had a certain allure, their price was always a prohibitive factor. However, Apple displays started to look more and more attractive over time.
At the end of 2012, my trusted Lenovo laptop and the attached Samsung display started to show signs of age despite some updates I had done. Around the same time I wandered into an Apple store and fell in love with their new 27-inch Thunderbolt displays. They were simply the best I had ever seen. They were also the most expensive – around 1,000 dollars each.
I did some research and found out that I could still run all my old favorite software on a Macintosh OSX environment. So I bit the bullet and forked over around 2,000 dollars for an iMac with 32 gigabytes of RAM. It is an integrated system where the hardware is located inside a 27-inch Thunderbolt display. If you need to read and write CD-ROM discs or watch movies from DVD discs, you can buy a separate Superdrive that connects to iMac with an USB cord. I have one but have had little use for it. Later I also bought an extra Thunderbolt display which I hooked up to the first one with a Thunderbolt cable.
My first job was to install Parallels software. Parallels is a virtualization environment that allows you to run Windows (7 or 8) on top of the OSX. Since I had maxed out my available RAM memory, I was able to allocate 16 gigabytes of it to Windows 8. The installation went very smoothly and soon I had a Windows 8 happily running in a virtual box – for all intents and purposes Windows 8 is running in a normal PC. People seem to generally hate the Tiles in Windows 8. I don’t use them either, I click the Tile called Desktop to get to the familiar Windows 7-like environment.
The next step was to install Microsoft Office 2010 and my CAT tools (Trados Studio 2011 and MemoQ Pro). This also worked out without any issues. So far all my Windows applications have worked fine.
I have now been working with the iMac environment for almost two years. There are some positive and negative factors to consider.
Overall, I am happy as a clam. The hardware quality of Apple products is excellent. I have had very few problems with any hardware. I use my own Kinesis split keyboard for ergonomic reasons, and an Evolution vertical mouse. The Thunderbolt displays are superb and easy for my eyes. The resolution I use is 2560 x 1440 pixels. The display also has an integrated camera and microphone, and decent speakers. I can either use one display for Windows and one for OSX, or extend the Windows desktop to two screens. That has been a great solution for many translation projects when I have to keep several documents open at the same time. I can also put my Internet browser into the right side display so I can do online searches without cluttering up my main display.
There are three possible ways to run the Windows desktop in Parallels: Coherence, Full Screen, and Modality. In Coherence mode, Mac OS X Dock, Windows taskbar, and any applications are running on one desktop. In Full Screen mode, Windows 8 takes the whole screen and Parallels and OSX are hidden from view. In Modality mode, you can keep Windows 8 desktop in one window while still seeing the OSX desktop and you can access OSX software.
I haven’t had time or interest to really explore these options in detail. In practice, I use Full Screen mode, since I have no need for Apple software.
The virtual environment allows me to take “snapshots” of my Windows environment that I can revert to in case of problems. In practice I haven’t been using them.
A minor bonus of virtualization is that if only Windows needs to be updated, I can reboot it inside OSX without having to reboot the entire iMac.
What are the drawbacks then? I have to keep up with both Windows and OSX updates. If I have to reboot I have to remember to tell the Windows that it needs to connect to my external hard drive.
Also, in Full Screen mode I sometimes unintentionally activate hidden Parallels menus when I try to use Trados or Word icons in the upper left corner. This is a minor annoyance that I can live with.
The iMac I have only has three USB ports available. I could use one more, but it hasn’t been a big deal.
Even if you’re running Windows 8 in a virtual environment, it’s still possible to get malware (viruses etc.) infection from the Internet. I have been using Windows Firewall and Windows Security and have had no worse problems than occasional tracking cookies. Of course it pays to be paranoid about links and think twice before downloading any software from the Internet.
Overall I have been a happy user of this hybrid Mac-Windows combination. Two years later my hardware setup shows no signs of age whatsoever so I can focus on translating.


MINUTES OF NORDIC DIVISION 2013 YEARLY MEETING

10/01/2014

Date:    November 7, 2013 at 12:30 – 1:00 pm

Place:   The Marriott Riverside Center, San Antonio, TX

Present:      Tapani Ronni (TR), David Rumsey (DR), Catrine Modig (CM), Linda Theis, Tess Whitty (TW), Tom Ellett (TE), Roger Stenlund, Nina Lehtinen, Eva Helgesten, Niels Johan D. Andersen, Tuija Nordstrom, Tuomas Kostiainen (TK), Erkki Pekkinen, Ingrid Abrahmsson, David Kendall, Dee Shields

1.   Call to order

Administrator Tapani Ronni (TR) called the meeting to order at 12:32 pm.

2.        Acceptance of agenda

The agenda was accepted as presented.

3.        Approval of minutes of last year’s meeting

The Nordic Division (ND) Annual Meeting minutes from the 53nd annual meeting in San Diego, CA, were presented and accepted. TW requested that the minutes be sent out earlier: TR will send them out to everyone by e-mail.

4.        ND Overview for 2013 (TR)

TR presented an overview of 2013 activities. DR: The Nordic Division has about 400 members, according to DR.

The ND LinkedIn group is active, successful; useful discussions.

The ND Web site is very static. It was designed by the former administrator. The main activity is the blog. The Webmaster is Charles Ek (CE). There is always room for new material, i.e. articles, which have to be approved by the ATA before posting.

We could include the link to the ND blog in the mail when we send out the minutes. Otherwise just go to the Nordic Division page and click on the link on the right.

TW asked that the minutes be sent out earlier. TR: We’ll try to send the minutes out to everyone, possibly by cutting/pasting into an e-mail.

DR suggested setting up an ND Facebook page: it’s a more ”intimate” setting, ok to use for informal communication (anything formal has to go through ATA HQ). No ATA permission is necessary to set up the group, but it has to be set up as a closed/confidential group, which allows approval of new members/postings. Other divisions have found it an easy way to communicate on a personal level. TW volunteered to be the Facebook group administrator; this was okayed by TR.

The ND Annual Dinner will take place Saturday, November 9, at the restaurant Zocca on the Riverwalk.

5.        New Business for 2014

The conference will be in Chicago next year. We had two speakers last year, but only one this year. (Thank you, TW!) We haven’t had a distinguished speaker since 2009 (from Finland), and we would love to have one. Suggestions are more than welcome, also for speakers that are not ”distinguished”.

DR: A good way to get distinguished speakers is to think about the people you work with. We need someone affordable and preferably with cross-divisional appeal, e.g. the head of the translation department at Volvo would be great, because we would probably also see Science and Technology Division members attending the session(s). Another idea is ”practical” speakers from the end client or agency side of the business, e.g. a project manager from an agency. Speakers should preferably be local; if they’re not, they have to be a justifiable choice. Chicago has a lot of Scandinavian heritage, which should make it easier to find someone local.

TW asked what the definition of ”distinguished” was in this context. DR replied that it means not an ATA member. If we can find someone whose employer will pay for them to speak at the conference, then that’s even better.

TR: Please send proposals for next year’s conference. The deadline is March 10. Start thinking about it now and write your proposal if you want to be a speaker next year.

DR resigned from the Nominating Committee (NC) due to other obligations. TR asked for a replacement, but there were no volunteers. Current members are TK and Jane Kjems.

The more people we have on the Leadership Council, the better. The work is done by e-mail; teleconferencing is not necessary. TE and TW volunteered to join. The LC is now Tapani Ronni, Charles Ek, Tess Whitty, Catrine Modig, Tom Ellett, and Lisa Dahlander.

6.                          Adjournment

Meeting adjourned at about 1:00 pm. Thanks for a great meeting.


My sabbatical year in Sweden

09/04/2013

by Tess Whitty  (tess@swedishtranslationservices.com)

Reasons for going

Many have asked me to write about my sabbatical year in Sweden. It is actually not a “sabbatical” per se; I am just working from Sweden this year, instead of from Park City, Utah. But I have been calling it a sabbatical since my husband has a sabbatical year from teaching at the University of Utah. Professors can take these every seven years or so, and the intention is to create new contacts and projects abroad. When his sabbatical year was coming up he suggested that the family move back to Sweden for a year. We lived in Sweden in the late 1990’s before we moved to Utah for his work, and I have family and friends there. Being an English into Swedish translator, it is very important for me to keep up my native language skills, and spending a whole year in Sweden, reading Swedish news every day and speaking Swedish at home, certainly trumps going back there every summer when it comes to immersing myself in my native language.

Running a US based business from Sweden

In order to make it as easy and fluid as possible for my clients, and for me to maintain my business as usual, I decided to keep my all my official business dealings in the US. I hired a trusted friend to take care of my mail and deposit all check payments. In order to make this work, I had to open a PO Box since the US Postal Service will not forward some types of legal correspondence. I forwarded my business phone to Google Voice and use the app Talkatone on my cell phone to receive all calls and messages, and to call my clients in the US. With that program it appears that I am calling from my normal US business phone. I told all my regular clients of my move and my new time zone, and have the time zone posted in my email signature as a reminder to everyone contacting me. Since I dislike accounting, I was already using an accountant before I left, and she is taking care of all my accounting, plus all my business taxes. Since I am keeping my business based in the US, I can avoid doing business taxes in both countries.

Keeping clients and finding new ones

I have certainly kept all my favorite clients from before, but have also gotten my foot in more with European clients. Having the language combination English into Swedish in Sweden means that the market is quite saturated, when reaching out to new companies, but I have gotten to know more colleagues here and through them received a few referrals.

I would say that the hardest part of keeping my clients from the US and working from Sweden is the time difference. I try to work mostly while the kids are in school, but most emails start coming in after 4 pm. This means that I am usually up past 9 pm in the evening answering emails and taking care of updates and such.

Networking and training opportunities

During my year here in Stockholm I try to do as much networking as I can. Last fall I went to the Nordic Translation Industry Conference in Copenhagen and next month I will be going to the annual conference of the Swedish Association of Professional Translators (or SFÖ). I also try to meet translators that I know, and that live close by, on a more personal basis. I have also been offered to do training for SFÖ and have held courses in websites for translators and about common errors and rules when translating from English into Swedish. I have attended several day classes in Swedish writing and modern grammar and style. I try to do as much networking as possible here, but find that both the cost and the normal family/work life poses the same impediments as back home. Two thirds of my year here has already passed, and I feel that there is still so much more to do when it comes to networking and training, and so little time left.

Relocating with family

I think the hardest thing when considering a sabbatical year abroad, or a temporary relocation of your translation business, is to bring your family, if you have one. It is imperative to find a situation that works for everyone, and I was lucky that we could find a way. We started planning for our children’s integration in Sweden a year in advance. During the summer before, we visited potential schools in the area and started checking into the application process. That summer also sent them on a two week long summer camp in the Stockholm archipelago to immerse them in the Swedish language and culture. They were already bilingual, but their Swedish was weaker and needed some intense refreshing. They are now going to a Swedish speaking school here and doing well, but there is always the option of international schools for children that are not bilingual. We own our house in Park City and hired a property manager to find someone who could rent it furnished. He was really worth the money and took a lot of stress of our shoulders. We also found a furnished house for rent close to the school in Stockholm, and close to my sister.

Conclusion

Being a freelance translator really has its advantages, since we basically can work from anywhere, as long as we have an Internet connection and make arrangements like the above if we stay for longer periods of time. If you are considering doing a sabbatical or relocation period, I can highly recommend it. It is worth all the trouble and arrangements for the whole family. We even brought our large dog with. (Her ticket was more expensive than ours!) We are truly enjoying our year here and try to take advantage of it as much as we can and travel as much as our economy and time allows. The only drawback is having all our earnings in US dollars and all our expenses in Swedish kronor, and the exchange rate is not at all to our advantage right now.

If you want to read more about my experiences of temporary relocating my business to Sweden, you can read my business diary blog posts on my blog The Business of Translation.


Translation Quality Assurance Tools

20/02/2013

by Tuomas Kostiainen (tuomas@jps.net)

All modern CAT tools, such as Trados Studio, memoQ and Wordfast Pro, include a variety of quality assurance (QA) functions. Unfortunately, these functions are often underutilized by translators because they can be difficult to find (particularly if you don’t even know to look for them) or need some additional setup to be really useful. I’m hoping that after reading this article, you are motivated to take a look at this feature in your CAT tool and start using it.

Typical QA checks include checks for items like forgotten/empty/inconsistent translations, length comparison/verification, repeated words, double spaces, numbers, units, punctuation, capitalization, quotation marks, brackets, trademarks, terminology, spelling, and tags. In most tools you can also create your own checks by using regular expressions. QA checks are generally done by comparing target segments with (1) the source segment, (2) certain language/user-specific rules, or (3) an external termbase or termlist.

As you can see, these are checks that would often be too time-consuming, annoying or just downright impossible to do manually, but at the same time they are important for the quality of the translation. Here are a few tips on how to get started in utilizing this very useful feature:

1. The first hurdle is usually locating the feature and its settings in a CAT tool. Search the Help file. For example, in Trados Studio it’s called “QA Checker” (Studio has also a separate terminology verification and tag verification feature), in memoQ “Quality Assurance” and in Wordfast “Transcheck”.

2. Go through the settings and see what types of checks would be the most useful for you. You don’t have to use them all or all the time. The most useful checks often depend on the language, project and yourself.

3. Don’t get discouraged by false positives, i.e. error messages that are not real errors. Try to minimize their number by fine-tuning the settings. That makes it easier to read the QA report and see the real errors. However, you also need to learn just to skip the unnecessary error messages when reading the QA report. You cannot avoid all of them.

4. Learn the basics of regular expressions. With a little regex knowledge you can easily create very handy customized checks and search expressions.

5. If you need even more powerful QA functions or want to run checks in many different types of bilingual files (and not just in your own CAT tool’s files), you should take a look at the stand-alone QA tools, such as QA Distiller, ErrorSpy, Verifika, Okapi CheckMate and ApSIC Xbench. Not only do they allow you to check various types of translated bilingual files but you can also use them for checking translation memories. QA Distiller and ErrorSpy are very powerful tools but also more expensive and geared more towards translation agencies and project managers. Verifika is a less expensive but powerful and easy-to-use tool that is suitable for individual translators as well. Okapi CheckMate and Xbench are free tools with much more limited QA functions but support a large number of different file types.

You can find additional information about these QA and TM management tools in my ATA Conference handout which can be downloaded from here.