Today I thought I would share my contribution to a humorous must for any translator: “MOX: Illustrated Guide to Freelance Translation”. It is filled with Alejandro Moreno-Ramos’ hilarious translation-related cartoons, interspersed with excellent contributions from Sarah M. Dillon, Alex Eames, Céline Graciet, Judy Jenner, Laurent Laget, Benny Lewis, Kevin Lossner, Corinne McKay, Pablo Muñoz, Jill Sommer, Ramón Somoza, Steve Vitek, and of course, this very contribution from myself. If you enjoy this post, I highly recommend you take a look at the book for more from some of the best in translation blogging.
You want the truth on Crados? Feast your eyes on this exclusive leaked email exchange between a Crados executive and the lead project manager at a big translation agency:
On Thursday at 1:04 PM, Minnie Mumwage <email@example.com> wrote:
We are gonna be rich! My team created this great new software, it’s gonna change everything! It will make us BOTH rich (pity the translators, har har!).
All you have to do, Pam, is insist your translators buy this software. Promise them loads of work, but only if they spend $850 on our software. In turn, when you get this software, you can create translation memory (TM) files and pay translators less for “matches” from a previous translation. You don’t worry if the previous translation is not ideal, you can just pay them a 0.0001 cents for anything above a 75% match, even if it just LOOKS similar! And they will correct it! You can even use a machine for the TM if you want (my buddy is working on that).
By the way, we’ll also make regular expensive updates with poor backward/forward compatibility. We’ll obviously use some of that revenue to introduce new matching and machine translation methods to cut your costs down even further.
How does that sound, are you in?
On Thursday at 1:32 PM, Pam Scam <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
You are the angel to a devil’s prayers. Time to make these translators pay… literally!! 3:-D
I will be honest. Those are not really leaked emails. They are the sarcastic consequence of my feelings toward Crados and the agencies that insist upon its use. These are sentiments you will find shared by many experienced translators, and even echoed elsewhere in this book [MOX: Illustrated Guide to Freelance Translation]. Mox is not the greatest fan of Crados, either. However, unlike Mox, I refuse to use it. So why do I hate Crados so much?
Technically, I find Crados, like most commercial translation memory software, to be cumbersome, slow, inefficient and needlessly complicated. Argh, those damned tags, database-lookups, formatting errors, random crashes, load times, waiting for it to catch up… Need I go on?
In the most part, giving a translator a translation memory tool is like giving an artist a robotic arm: this makes it much easier to record how the artist produced the work, but the work itself is stilted, artificial and slow. Further, the robotic arm is ultra-vulnerable to any (intentional?) in-built flaws in the programming (which of course are fixed in the latest $350 dollar “upgrade”, which will have new flaws to uncover). Even if the method of an artist could really be recorded, what artist really wants to give away their secrets? Finally, what artist really wants to be given a Frankenstein’s monster of a robotic arm, with the fingers and programming of many other artists (one expressionist, one surrealist and a hodge-podge of so-called modern-artists) and base their work on this, or “review” what the arm carves of its own accord, and be paid only for the “moderate” contribution of non-matches? How preposterous!
Yes, I do consider Crados and most commercial translation tools to be clunky robotic arms. But there is an open-source-shaped light at the end of the tunnel: OmegaT!
I always said I would write my own beginners’ guide to OmegaT on my blog, and perhaps this chapter will finally give me the impetus. In the 172 words that remain, I will try to tell you why OmegaT is different.
OmegaT is open source. It is designed by an innovative team of geeky linguists with a wonderful vision: that translation memory software, like languages (and translators) should be free: free to use, free to edit, and free to improve. Unlike most alternatives, it uses virtual memory rather than a database look-up, and whilst it does not do any fancy instant-synchronisation of translations between multiple translators (too many cooks spoil the broth?), it is incredibly fast, reliable, easy-to-use, compatible with nearly everything and cross-platform. There is also a good selection of additional add-ons and external text extraction software to extend these capabilities even further.
My final word to anyone frustrated with The Great Crados Conspiracy is to give OmegaT a go. It is free in every way and available from www.omegat.org.
Do not be afraid to dispose of your clunky robotic arms!
We should use technology to assist us.
We should not allow technology to assist others in using us.