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Personal methods in translation
Autor de la hebra: Becca Resnik

Becca Resnik  Identity Verified
Estados Unidos
Local time: 05:31
Miembro
alemán al inglés
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PERSONA QUE INICIÓ LA HEBRA
A comment and a question Apr 26

Dan Lucas wrote:
Like Chris, I am very specialised and experienced, but my Japanese clients insist that the translation follows the precedent of previous translations, if such translations exist, so there's a clear cultural difference there. I have seen edited copies of my translations, and rather than errors, 99.9% of the changes made consist of the editor rearranging sentences to make them look more like previous translations. Rather sad, in a way.


I have to say that I got a little chuckle out of this. Between working at a Japanese company and studying Japanese, I clearly understand what you mean about this type of consistency being part of the culture. I could expect as much in a corporate context, but the high degree of uniformity as part of their culture was clearest to me once I started buying Japanese books. Those little slips in every single book...same font, same paper quality, same format - every single time! Then, I started to notice this everywhere in the culture.

When the client offers me a job I will scan the whole document, then go into it more carefully, and see what resources I can find for areas with which I am unfamiliar. If I think I can take it on, I get back to them with a price and a deadline.


How often do you have the opportunity to review and then decline a job? I would have assumed that being in the financial sector, you wouldn't be allowed to review prior to accepting? Or is it different because you have long-term clients, because you sign NDAs, or because I've just assumed incorrectly?


 

Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Alemania
Local time: 11:31
Miembro 2016
inglés al alemán
There are some similarities indeed Apr 26

Becca Resnik wrote:

Kay-Viktor Stegemann wrote:

My source content often does not come in the form of a "document". Much of the text I translate are single software strings, fragments, updates, technical descriptions and so on. Therefore I have given up to read the full source text before I begin to work. I just need the overall context, and then I start translating away, rereading every segment right after I translated it to fix any obvious errors and to check the style, and then it's on to the next segment. So this is essentially a one step translation. When a project is translated, I run a spellchecker or QA over the result (this depends on the actual tool I'm working with for this project, which can depend on the agency), check the issues it found (99% false alarms, normally), and that's it. Getting it right at the first try is one of the secrets of economic success in this job.


What I find delightful about this is that you seem to translate the way one would write a program, which you obviously have extensive experience in (I took a peek at your profile after reading your post and noting "software strings" in your list above ). Understand the overall goal; work line by line, checking syntax carefully; compile; fix two out of 539 "errors" to yield the perfect result.


You are right, there are some similarities, but there are also some differences. What you refer to is actually the coding part. I have written a lot of code in my professional life, and this kind of code has to be compiled before it can be executed. If it contains any syntax errors, the compiler run will inevitably return an error (in modern platforms syntax errors are often shown already while typing the code), and when you have done this for a decade or two, you develop a keen eye for syntax, because every error you produce inevitably means more work for fixing it later. Thus, you develop the habit to getting it right the first time. Well, mostly. But I think that after years in translating, I developed the same habit in writing too (and I would have assumed that most people in this business do).

But of course, software development is more than just coding, it is about concepts and architectures, about analyzing and structuring a problem, and I think the analogy does not work so well in these aspects.


 

Becca Resnik  Identity Verified
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Thanks for the response! Apr 26

Jennifer Caisley wrote:

Like many posters above, I have a multi-stage approach. It seems fairly similar to what Chris does above (albeit without dictation) - so I'm glad I'm not the only one!

1. Do a very quick first draft of the text in my CAT tool, essentially at the speed it takes to read the ST. I don't stop to look up terminology or puzzle out tricky structures: this stage merely serves as an opportunity to familiarise myself with the text and make a mental note of areas that might need extra attention later on.

2. Go back through the text, segment by segment, and amend the quick draft so that it accurately matches the ST. Depending on the type of text and how accurate the first draft was, this could be a very quick process or like wading through treacle. This is where I look up terminology that's unfamiliar, cross-check against my termbase etc.

3. Preferably the next day, or at the very least with fresh eyes, re-read the text through in my CAT tool, doing a segment-by-segment check for accuracy and any easy slips like the spelling of people's names, mis-typed numbers etc. I then run the QA process as a final double-check.

4. I export the text from my CAT to its native format (Word, Excel etc.) and review the text for flow. It's amazing how differently the text reads when it's in its intended layout!

5. If there's time, I print out the translation and do a final review on paper.


What I've really enjoyed is learning about the number of times people go through a text. I suppose it's something like the old "tortoise and the hare" concept. Although in the case of professional translators, the "hare" goes back a few times, which is how both "win the race." I like that you make it a point to re-read the text the next day. Not only does it give you some time to reset before developing the final product, but you presumably work on the first draft of another project in the meantime, allowing your mind to distance itself even further from the text you need to look at with fresh eyes.


Jennifer Caisley
 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
Reino Unido
Local time: 10:31
Miembro 2014
japonés al inglés
Trust Apr 26

Becca Resnik wrote:
Or is it different because you have long-term clients, because you sign NDAs

Yes, I have signed NDAs, so clients have no problem giving me sight of the document. I have been working for most of them for several years now and we trust each other. The way it works is that my clients usually contact me to give me a heads-up when they first get wind of the job, and ask about availability. That can happen some time in advance. This year I had some May jobs booked in late March, which was taking it to extremes.

I almost never turn down a job if I have availability - I make a virtue of saying "Yes" - and I've never run into a financial job I couldn't handle. For unscheduled "sudden" projects, the client will always send the document along with the request for me to take a look at.

Regards,
Dan


 

Susan van den Ende  Identity Verified
Alemania
Local time: 11:31
inglés al neerlandés
+ ...
Sort by string length in MemoQ Apr 27

Wonderful question and some interesting approaches, thanks for sharing!

For manuals, I like to create a view and then sort it by string length, so I can translate the shorter ones first. This way MemoQ suggests them for auto-complete when they get referenced in other segments, which speeds up my work and helps consistency.

Example:

Somewhat shorter segment:

* Chapter twelve: How to do this complicated thing with the machine.

Senten
... See more
Wonderful question and some interesting approaches, thanks for sharing!

For manuals, I like to create a view and then sort it by string length, so I can translate the shorter ones first. This way MemoQ suggests them for auto-complete when they get referenced in other segments, which speeds up my work and helps consistency.

Example:

Somewhat shorter segment:

* Chapter twelve: How to do this complicated thing with the machine.

Sentence in chapter 1:

* If you want to do the long and complicated thing with the machine, refer to [Chapter twelve: How to do this complicated thing with the machine.]

In this case, I would also filter the view for any segments that start with "How to", so I can make sure that all translations of chapter titles use the same grammatical structure.

You don't catch everything like this, obviously, and it doesn't work for every manual. But for manuals with this type of structure, this method tends to work *really* well. It's not just the time you save with auto-complete, but also the QA time you need to verify that your references are consistent.
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Dan Lucas
Jorge Payan
 

Becca Resnik  Identity Verified
Estados Unidos
Local time: 05:31
Miembro
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PERSONA QUE INICIÓ LA HEBRA
Great insight into manual translation Apr 27

Susan van den Ende wrote:

Wonderful question and some interesting approaches, thanks for sharing!

For manuals, I like to create a view and then sort it by string length, so I can translate the shorter ones first. This way MemoQ suggests them for auto-complete when they get referenced in other segments, which speeds up my work and helps consistency.

Example:

Somewhat shorter segment:

* Chapter twelve: How to do this complicated thing with the machine.

Sentence in chapter 1:

* If you want to do the long and complicated thing with the machine, refer to [Chapter twelve: How to do this complicated thing with the machine.]

In this case, I would also filter the view for any segments that start with "How to", so I can make sure that all translations of chapter titles use the same grammatical structure.

You don't catch everything like this, obviously, and it doesn't work for every manual. But for manuals with this type of structure, this method tends to work *really* well. It's not just the time you save with auto-complete, but also the QA time you need to verify that your references are consistent.


Sounds like an efficient method indeed! I really appreciate your response, and I think it's an interesting look into how user manual translation is innately different from many other types of ST. Thank you so much!


 

Yolande Hivart
Austria
Local time: 11:31
Miembro 2016
alemán al francés
When I am lucky enough to have enough time for it... Apr 27

I make a first quick glance to understand what is the text is about
I try to find similar text or previous reference texts in the target language (using an approximate language) or check given reference or TM
I do a first stright linear translation without bothering about the style, just throwing up words and content on the page
[If I have to use a CAT tool, I check for constitency and the wording that was already in the TM, I make a quality check and proofreading]

... See more
I make a first quick glance to understand what is the text is about
I try to find similar text or previous reference texts in the target language (using an approximate language) or check given reference or TM
I do a first stright linear translation without bothering about the style, just throwing up words and content on the page
[If I have to use a CAT tool, I check for constitency and the wording that was already in the TM, I make a quality check and proofreading]

Extra if I do not have to use a CAT tool:
I let the text rest from a couple of hours to overnight.
I put aside the source text and make an attempt to make the translation as genuine and fluid as possible.
Once I am happy with the translation I compare back with the source text to check that i was still saying the same thing.
I bend back the fluid translation back towards the original if the divergence is too great.
I make a proofreading and a quality check.
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Becca Resnik  Identity Verified
Estados Unidos
Local time: 05:31
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+ ...
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What determines your CAT tool usage? Apr 27

Yolande Hivart wrote:
...
[If I have to use a CAT tool, I check for constitency and the wording that was already in the TM, I make a quality check and proofreading]
...
Extra if I do not have to use a CAT tool:
...


Thank you very much for detailing all of this out! If I'm inferring correctly that you don't prefer to use CAT tools, why don't you, and what determines if you "have to"? Client requirement, current workload, or something else?


 

Yolande Hivart
Austria
Local time: 11:31
Miembro 2016
alemán al francés
CAT Apr 27

Becca Resnik wrote:

Thank you very much for detailing all of this out! If I'm inferring correctly that you don't prefer to use CAT tools, why don't you, and what determines if you "have to"? Client requirement, current workload, or something else?


It depends on the client. For most agencies that I have gained work through Proz, having a CAT tool was a condition of getting work from them. For private clients and the legal bodies I am directly working with, I never use a CAT tool, provided they too do not ask a discount if I have to repeat 100 times the same words (which they usually do not - at least not yet, at most they ask me to skip the repetitions). Although I may say if I compare the state of my texts after years passing by, I might scare myself in say reusing the words I was using in a similar document made in 2014. Here I see the huge influence through the years made by getting new ideas from further training or simply through silent proofreading the work of colleagues (or when a client is bluntly sending me a reference text from another translator where I found better nuggets than my own automatisms, and when there is even the name of the colleague on a sworn translation I am being sent as a reference, I might even be tempted to pick up the phone to have a discussion, but this would infringe non disclosure).

Not too long ago, I even saw the same pattern about writers who made youtube videos about mistakes they preach not to make using their own documents and showed the mistakes they made and did not want to recognize as a beginner a decade before and how they were silly boasting know it all when they just started.

When I have enouth time and I do not hear of the need of a CAT tool or discount, I do it in the old fashionned way: mostly in word. I am doing so much work reworking the sentences that it would not fit anymore into an usable segmented pattern. This is very rare that being forced to use the terminology of another translator actually speeds my work when I am expected it to rework it.


 

Nadja Balogh  Identity Verified
Alemania
Local time: 02:31
Miembro 2007
japonés al alemán
+ ...
I usually just plung ahead Apr 27

I usually don't bother much about going through the document first (except to find out if it is something I can handle or not). Somehow my brain will only start working properly when I'm in translation mode - any useful questions I might have will only start forming themselves when I'm actually translating, not when simply reading through the text.
This often means that the stuff I translate at the beginning will need to be revised again after a while as everything starts to become clearer
... See more
I usually don't bother much about going through the document first (except to find out if it is something I can handle or not). Somehow my brain will only start working properly when I'm in translation mode - any useful questions I might have will only start forming themselves when I'm actually translating, not when simply reading through the text.
This often means that the stuff I translate at the beginning will need to be revised again after a while as everything starts to become clearer, which is why I try everything I can to avoid projects with partial delivery halfway through.
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Josephine Cassar
Chris S
Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Beatriz Ramírez de Haro
Mark Harris
neilmac
Valentina Del Maestro
 

Becca Resnik  Identity Verified
Estados Unidos
Local time: 05:31
Miembro
alemán al inglés
+ ...
PERSONA QUE INICIÓ LA HEBRA
The non-meta method? Apr 27

Nadja Balogh wrote:

I usually don't bother much about going through the document first (except to find out if it is something I can handle or not). Somehow my brain will only start working properly when I'm in translation mode - any useful questions I might have will only start forming themselves when I'm actually translating, not when simply reading through the text.
This often means that the stuff I translate at the beginning will need to be revised again after a while as everything starts to become clearer, which is why I try everything I can to avoid projects with partial delivery halfway through.


What I find most interesting is that I expected more answers like this one, and that's not what has revealed itself. Thanks so much for sharing!


 

Mark Harris
Francia
Local time: 11:31
Miembro 2019
francés al inglés
+ ...
I'm glad I'm not the only one! Apr 28

Nadja Balogh wrote:

I usually don't bother much about going through the document first (except to find out if it is something I can handle or not). Somehow my brain will only start working properly when I'm in translation mode - any useful questions I might have will only start forming themselves when I'm actually translating, not when simply reading through the text.
This often means that the stuff I translate at the beginning will need to be revised again after a while as everything starts to become clearer, which is why I try everything I can to avoid projects with partial delivery halfway through.


I also work in a similar way. I'm fairly early into my career so I generally don't get paid the greatest rates, so time is often a crucial factor to me to maintain profitability. I obviously try and get a good sense of who the end client is, what the text is generally about, etc. before I start translating, otherwise I would have to change everything afterwards, but I don't have time to read through the entire ST before I even start translating, particularly if it's a long text. I tend to just get stuck into the translation and then change some of the wording when I go back through it. It does help that I work a lot with the same end clients, so I can tell pretty quickly what the text is going to be about since I'm very familiar with who they are and what they do.

One thing that I have changed, similarly to others here, is skipping difficult segments and going back to them later. I used to spend ages agonising over what they meant as I came across them, only for the answer to become clear later as I carried on working through the text, once I had more context. So rather than wasting time and energy battling with an incomprehensible phrase, I leave it for later to see if the rest of the text will yield an answer.

I do hope to start earning better rates as I progress through my career so I can relax and take my time a bit more though. I do work hard to guarantee good quality of course, but I also have to work fast to ensure I can make a living!


Dan Lucas
 

Becca Resnik  Identity Verified
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Grateful for your insight Apr 28

Mark Harris wrote:
I also work in a similar way. I'm fairly early into my career so I generally don't get paid the greatest rates, so time is often a crucial factor to me to maintain profitability. I obviously try and get a good sense of who the end client is, what the text is generally about, etc. before I start translating, otherwise I would have to change everything afterwards, but I don't have time to read through the entire ST before I even start translating, particularly if it's a long text. I tend to just get stuck into the translation and then change some of the wording when I go back through it. It does help that I work a lot with the same end clients, so I can tell pretty quickly what the text is going to be about since I'm very familiar with who they are and what they do.

One thing that I have changed, similarly to others here, is skipping difficult segments and going back to them later. I used to spend ages agonising over what they meant as I came across them, only for the answer to become clear later as I carried on working through the text, once I had more context. So rather than wasting time and energy battling with an incomprehensible phrase, I leave it for later to see if the rest of the text will yield an answer.

I do hope to start earning better rates as I progress through my career so I can relax and take my time a bit more though. I do work hard to guarantee good quality of course, but I also have to work fast to ensure I can make a living!


I am new as well, so I truly am grateful for your input. Thanks for taking the time to respond! Isn't that so frustrating when you dwell on a term only to see that the later context would have instantly clarified it regardless?

Have you taken any measures toward increasing rates, or have you had to hold them steady to keep clients? I know this is a hotly-argued topic, so I'm just curious about your personal experiences/plans, if you don't mind sharing.


 

Mark Harris
Francia
Local time: 11:31
Miembro 2019
francés al inglés
+ ...
Happy for now Apr 28

Becca Resnik wrote:

I am new as well, so I truly am grateful for your input. Thanks for taking the time to respond! Isn't that so frustrating when you dwell on a term only to see that the later context would have instantly clarified it regardless?

Have you taken any measures toward increasing rates, or have you had to hold them steady to keep clients? I know this is a hotly-argued topic, so I'm just curious about your personal experiences/plans, if you don't mind sharing.



Well I'm slowly building my customer base and progressively managing to agree higher rates with newer customers, but inevitably I receive far more work from the agencies who pay the lower rates. To be honest, right now I feel grateful just to be able to support myself entirely through freelance translation, as I didn't expect to be at that point so soon. The fact is, when you start out it's very difficult to get clients due to limited experience, so when you contact an agency offering your desired rate and they respond saying they'll happily work with you but only at a lesser rate, you'd be silly to turn them down if you're not getting much work elsewhere (assuming the rate they've offered you isn't too ridiculous). It's all very well saying that you shouldn't ever work for low rates, even when starting out, but you don't always have much choice if this is all you're getting offered and you need to earn a living. I can't afford to work for nothing while I gain enough experience to earn better rates.

Once this COVID craziness has calmed down a bit I will start marketing myself with my increased experience and hopefully work towards achieving better rates, which I know are out there.


Becca Resnik
 

Angie Garbarino  Identity Verified
Miembro 2003
francés al italiano
+ ...
My method is very simple Apr 28

I start by quickly translating a sort of draft always with trados (even with no repetitions this helps my sight) and arrive to the end, second round I check and correct everything, confirming all the segments, then I read twice the whole translation.

Susan Madden
 
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