By Daria Toropchyn
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Reprinted with gracious permission from SlavFile, the Slavic language division newsletter, and the author

There are continuing debates out there over whether machine translation will ever replace human translators. Personally, I don’t see this ever happening, but there are a few by-products of artificial intelligence development that translators can benefit from in the here and now.

As a student and translator, I have had the opportunity to try various translation tools as part of my academic program. This has included guided access to Computer-Aided Translation (CAT) tools, which I can use for various projects without the pressure of having a client to satisfy.

The two main features of CAT tools that translators find most helpful are translation memory and a terminology base. A translation memory allows users to save translated segments (in most cases, sentences) and reuse them later for future projects. A terminology
base helps translators keep terminology consistent throughout an entire project.

According to ProZ, the most the most popular CAT tools today are SDL Trados, Wordfast, memoQ, Déjà Vu, Across, SDLX, and OmegaT. I would like to discuss my own experience using MemSource. This tool is not as widely known as the SDL suite, for example, but in my opinion, MemSource is a great CAT tool for certain types of work. My working language pairs are English>Russian and Czech>Russian, so I will be reviewing this tool from the viewpoint of these languages.

MemSource was launched in 2010 in Prague, Czech Republic, by the company’s founder, David Canek. The CAT tool was released for public use in 2011, and by the end of 2015 it reported 50,000 users (SDL Trados, by comparison, has 225,000 users). MemSource has both cloud- and desktop-based software versions. That means you can install it on your computer (the files will only be available there) or use the cloud-based version and have access to the files anywhere from any browser on any device, as long as you have an Internet connection. I use a cloud-based version, and I’m glad I chose that option. (Note, however, that many clients have confidentiality concerns and won’t allow you to work via a cloud-based system.)

MemSource MemSource is available as a Personal Edition (free for up to two files for translation of 10 MB each at one time) or Freelance Edition (free for 30 days, then $27 per month, can be used by multiple users, allows for unlimited files, and includes translation memory and a terminology base).

I have been using MemSource for a year now both for school and for work. MemSource has become my primary CAT tool.It supports over 50 file formats for translation. Of those, the ones I am most familiar with are .doc, .ppt, .txt, and .srt (for subtitling). Here is what the Editor looks like in the browser, where all the work is actually done:

The Editor window is very user-friendly and clean. If you know how to use Microsoft Word, you won’t have any trouble using MemSource’s Editor window. MemSource also provides short video tutorials that explain the Editor and pretty much everything else this CAT tool has to offer.

MemSource has a couple of great features that I haven’t found in other CAT tools:

Halfway through a lengthy document (over 1,000 segments long), I realized that I had already translated a similar sentence. In the top left area, “Filter Source= Text,” I typed a few words that were definitely translated previously, and MemSource gave me six results where these words were used. So, to the right of the sentence, I typed in the translation. But how could I get back to where I was before? I could either erase my filter criteria and scroll down all the way to segment #602 (where I was last), or I could leave my cursor on the filtered sentence and delete my search parameters. In the latter case, MemSource automatically brings me back to segment #602, and I can carry on translating. This sounds like a non-critical feature. But if you don’t know it is there, you can waste a great deal of time scrolling up and down.

While translating, I try not to confirm segments (“confirming” the segment means saving it in the translation memory). Because my translation memory is already big enough and has similar sentences saved in it, in the top right corner MemSource shows me source and target sentences that can be helpful. These subsegment matches are marked with pink. While they are not 100% matches, most of the time they open up new possibilities or just inspire me to continue the search for “the right word.”

The green “101” means that MemSource has found a 100% match in my translation memory; the blue “MT”  offers a machine-translated variant; and the pink “S” is a subsegment feature that recognizes a repetition within the segment and offers a translation. (The A refers to an outline heading in this case.)

Of course, MemSource is not perfect. Here are a few features that need improving or might be a reason to wonder if MemSource would be the best CAT tool for you:

  • MemSource does not replace the & symbol with its translation in an MT-offered sentence. This is not a big deal, but when you work in the English>Russian language pair, you can waste significant time just replacing this symbol (in 100% of cases, the “&” does not change between languages). As you can see, though, MemSource does offer a subsegment version of the translation, since it has “learned” that I replace “&” with “и” in my translations all the time.
  • Once I had a Czech docx file to translate into Russian, and MemSource produced so many tags (indicators of a recognition problem) that I was forced to translate the old-fashioned way, without using any CAT tool. However, this was the only Czech file of the more than 20 I have translated that caused MemSource any difficulty.

Overall I feel that MemSource is a great tool for translators who work mostly with files such as .doc, .txt, and .ppt. I like the quality of the machine-translation suggestions, which are easy to work with. And when general topics are translated, the majority of suggestions do not need serious editing. I have been able to add and edit terminology “on the go” without the need to upload a new termbase every time I have to add or edit a term. For those translators who work while traveling, the cloud-based version is a highly
useful option and would save the day if the translator’s computer died when there was a tight deadline and no backup, since it allows the use of a borrowed, Internet café computer or even a publicly available computer. How awesome is that? And $27 per month (totaling $324 per year) for a Freelance Edition is relatively affordable, without the need to pay a significant amount of money up front (such as the $825 purchase price for SDL Trados). You can access your document from any computer or laptop with any operating system (Microsoft, Apple) anywhere in the world at any time. Isn’t this the kind of freedom translators dream of?

Written by Daria Toropchyn

FIT Position Paper on the Future for Professional Translators

Reprinted with generous permission from Translatio, the newsletter of the Fédéracion Internacionale des Traducteurs

What does the future hold for professional translators? FIT, as the voice of associations representing those professionals around the world, would like to draw attention to actual or conceivable developments and indicate what actions are recommendable.

Thanks to modern technologies the world is increasingly interconnected. This leads to a rapidly growing need for improved communication and access to knowledge across different languages. In addition, more and more companies are seeking an international presence. Consequently, there is a steeply rising demand for translation services, which is further amplified by continuing migration owing to armed conflicts, climate change and other occurrences.

Although volumes are growing, a strong downward pressure on rates is evident. Acquisitions and mergers on the part of big players in the translation world are likely to lead to further market concentration with a corresponding impact on rates. Yet the bulk of all translation work is ultimately done by freelance individual translators, who must be able to make a living commensurate with their high level of education.

Developments like machine translation are gaining ground, though not as fast as expected by some. High-grade systems which are already used in several specialised areas of translation will continue to need a lot of high-quality input, be maintenance-intensive and require constant training of all users.

Some people assume that, at a certain point in the future, computers based on neural networks will outstrip human intelligence. This “singularity” will allegedly render most, if not all, current occupations obsolete. But it remains to be seen whether this vision will become reality. Until such time, professional translators will continue to have an important role to play because machines still lack the creativity and intuition that humans have. These professionals will not simply act as post-editors of machine-translation output, but above all as translators in their own right who counter the degradation of human language and guarantee a high quality of language.

In response to these trends and the changing customer requirements, professional translators have to adapt, be creative and develop business models that make the most of the latest technologies. These models could include various types of added value or involve translation services provided as part of a diversified offering. New innovative ideas are needed.

The traditional image of the solitary translator is definitely changing. Specialisation, a team-oriented approach to the work and the willingness to constantly refine the knowledge of tools will be essential for a successful career in the translation industry. In fact, translators should seek to influence the development and become co-creators of the tools they will be using in the coming decades.

Furthermore, a strong focus on professionalism must be maintained. Standards play an important part as a reliable method of demonstrating and underscoring the quality of the services provided to customers, but the quality of the translation work can only be ensured by trained and experienced professionals.

Professional translators must therefore redouble their efforts to make it clear that they are service providers and counter the commoditisation of their world. Among other things, this may include contemplating fee structures other than those per word, line or page translated, such as charging on an hourly or project basis for their services, as is the case in many other professions. They must continue to strive for greater efficiency and should consider working in teams to handle bigger jobs as well.

Above all, these professionals should act as language services advisors or language consultants, advising their customers on the best approach to a particular assignment and explaining the benefits or drawbacks of certain translation methods.

Job profiles themselves are likely to change. In some areas, the roles of translator and interpreter may merge, leading to the emergence of “trans-interpreters”. Elsewhere “trans-editor” or “trans-journalist” may become a new job title. Professional translators must therefore be willing to move away from traditional roles and embark on new, rewarding areas of activity as well as defining their personal area of specialisation.

for educational institutions
Universities and institutions that train translators will also have to adapt and refine their curricula in order to prepare their students for this changing environment. They must equip the students with the relevant skills needed for transcreation, localisation and other demanding types of human translation, without neglecting the basic competences needed by translators.

for professional associations
As the voice of individual translators, the national associations as well as their international umbrella organisations will have to inform both political institutions and the public about the importance and necessity of high-quality translation work. Furthermore, they have to offer their members information and training relating to new market developments.

Given the rapidly changing environment perceived as a threat by many, the future of the translation profession will therefore depend on the ability to transform the trends outlined above into new opportunities. This calls for a strong focus on professionalism and greater specialisation as well as the ability to act as language services advisor and display adaptability and flexibility.

Literary Translators’ Associations Collaborate on both sides of the Atlantic

Following the First Seminar for Literary Translators’ Trainers held at Instituto Caro y Cuervo (ICC) in Yerbabuena, Colombia, in October 2016, hosted by the Mexican Association of Literary Translators (AMETLI) and the Colombian Association of Translators, Terminologists and Interpreters (ACTTI), the associations resolved to join forces for the benefit of the profession. They decided to create a network specifically designed to improve the visibility of translators of literary works into Spanish on both sides of the Atlantic, act as an advocate for the profession, and foster cultural exchange by sharing information, experience and knowledge, based on the promotion of joint efforts. In addition to the Mexican and Colombian associations, the Spanish association ACE Traductores and the Argentine Association of Translators and In¬terpreters (AATI) are part of the initiative to create an Ibero-American Network of Literary Translators. The boards of the associations decided to sign a declaration of intent, which was released simultaneously in various countries in April.

Views on Terminology or Snippets Gleaned from Terminologists

Management Systems – Snippet One

Most of the terminology management systems on the market are highly developed and offer almost every feature a user will need. They are also very flexible so that they can be adjusted to specific organizational environments and needs. What could be improved is support of the terminology workflow and the different statuses an entry, a concept or a term will have during the process of elaboration and verification. We also see the trend to correlate terminology management much more with the Web, i.e., web-based terminology management tools, using the web as a resource for terminological retrieval and involving the crowd in terminological activities. Consequently, terminological data have to be more interoperable with other language and content resources, such as ontologies or other Linked Open Data resources.

Also, many terminological resources have grown during the last decades and, together with a lot of reliable data, a lot of inconsistent and impure data is stored. Quality assurance and cleaning feature are urgently needed, as a functionality of terminology management systems or as additional tools.

Snippet Two

Technology has already changed translation and terminology management considerably, and it can only get better. Just to mention one example, further developments in corpus linguistics and related tools will have a great impact also on the work of individual terminologists and translators. Needless to say, getting the best out of tools will always rely on an adequate understanding of terminology management and of any related workflow, a further reason for promoting better terminology awareness.

International Standards – Snippet Three

There is no doubt, that interchanging terminological data between different users, system and application requires standards. If there are no standards available, individual conversion routines have to be implemented in every single case, and the owner of the source data has to be consulted to explain the meaning of each single type of information. That’s the reason why standards bodies such as ISO already started to develop an exchange standard for terminological data at the beginning of the 1980s.

Terminology and Localization – Snippet Four

Terminology is very crucial for many products and documents, but especially for software products. There are several reasons for this. Software very often introduces new concepts for new features of the program, and no established terms for these new concepts in the target language; terminologists have to coin new terms for these new concepts. Software tools consist of many parts: the software itself with menus, dialog boxes, error messages, etc., but also printed documentation, online-help, installation guides, tutorials, sample files and so on.

Many people, under extreme time pressure to release all localized versions at the same time to, at least, the important markets (simship), are involved in the localization of one program. This requires the use of consistent terminology through all parts of the software. And last but not least, terminology is the means of communication between the program and the user. If the terminology is not transparent, not appropriate and not consistent, the user will be frustrated and will not be able to use the software properly.

Terminology Trends – Snippet Five

In the 1980s and 1990s a computational turn revolutionized terminology studies and closely linked it to corpus linguistics and computational linguistics, as well as to knowledge engineering and ontology management. At the same time, a sociological turn broadened the field of terminology studies and combined it with socio-linguistics, in particular in the contexts of language planning and language policies. Since then a cognitive turn that had revolutionized linguistics has also extended the scope of terminology studies by focusing on the cognitive dimension of the formation and use of terms in domain communication and their underlying concepts, which are constantly re-constructed by each member of a discourse community in individual cognition processes as well as in collective meaning attributions. An economic turn made the economic potential of efficient terminology management in language industries and in international business and trade visible. The future of terminology studies lies, now as always, in a cross-disciplinary approach, carrying out empirical research driven by questions coming from industries, public institutions and from scientific institutions at large.

Healthcare Interpreting Scholarship

CCHI established “Discover Healthcare Interpreting” CoreCHI™ Scholarship. The purpose of the scholarship is to support interpreters of languages for which only the CoreCHI™ certification is currently available, including refugee languages and languages of lesser diffusion.

CCHI has identified a particular need to support interpreters in smaller language communities in their pursuit of earning the designation of a certified interpreter. In keeping with CCHI’s mission to offer a professional certification for healthcare interpreters of all languages, CCHI asked language companies to support interpreters seeking the CoreCHI™ certification. We are grateful and excited to announce that two companies rushed to help! Thanks to their contributions, CCHI will award up to five (5) scholarships, in the amount of $210 each, each half-year cycle in 2017.