J-Net SDL Trados Studio workshop – Adelaide Paterson writes:

Andy Walker, the author of SDL Trados Studio: A Practical Guide and a highly experienced teacher and trainer of SDL Trados Studio, was guest speaker at the J-Net summer workshop held at Leeds University in September. J-Net, the Japanese branch of the ITI, kindly invited members of YTI to attend. This was a godsend for me, a proofreader starting out as a freelance proofreader and translator, toying with the idea of investing in software. My limited previous experience of proofreading in SDL Trados meant I was less than familiar with simple tasks such as creating a Translation Memory (or TM), and was daunted by the jargon.

As Andy emphasised at the start of the afternoon session for beginners, the true strength of CAT tools lies in dealing with repetition, whether that be repetition of key terms, or entire sentences. The TM, glossary and autopropagation tools can save hours of work re-translating the same, or importantly a similar, sentence again and again. Having a TM for a client can be a key tool for negotiating repeat orders and can increase their reliance on your services, particularly for similar documents. Clearly, for creative work, translating literature for example, where the idea is to avoid repetition, CAT tools are not necessarily suitable.

For my first job after university proofreading patent translations, maintaining the consistency of technical terms was key. I was proofreading on paper, but if I had had access to the glossary, rather than having to make a note in a notebook of each new technical term and how it had been translated, just in case it should crop up again, my work would surely have been more accurate and quicker. My first freelance translation assignment was two owner’s manuals for two almost identical models of speed boat. I realise now that a job of this nature, i.e. long, technical and repetitive, with two separate but very similar documents, is ideal for translation software.

Out of the blue, a company I was proofreading freelance for have offered me a full-time role, though using Wordfast, not Trados. My new company are very excited about the new Wordfast Pro 4, though there are still a few bugs to iron out. The interface seems a lot friendlier, and processes are streamlined, for example a project manager sends the linguist a ‘project’, which when opened attaches the TM and glossary automatically, thus saving time. Attending the workshop and the jargon I learned have really helped me transition. Andy Walker was very informative, easy to follow and patient, and I would recommend his book, which is laid out in textbook style with practical exercises, and is available to buy from the publisher Packt: https://www.packtpub.com/hardware-and-creative/sdl-trados-studio-practical-guide.

Enormous thanks must go to Megumi Waters of J-Net, who hosted the event and put on a fantastic spread of delicious sandwiches, salads, fruit and cakes for lunch with gallons of tea and coffee. Megumi had convinced the Head of the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies at Leeds University, Dr Matthew Treherne, to come and talk to us and be grilled by attendees on the current state of university language applications. He told us that the current trend leans massively towards students wanting to study more than one language, and also a language with another subject, such as Business or Law, as opposed to studying single honours French, for example. The facilities we used at the university were excellent. Megumi entertained us with a language quiz during lunch, and gave everyone origami to take home. I would recommend attending J-Net’s events in the future if we are invited: they were very welcoming.

Adelaide Paterson, French/German to English Translator and Proofreader

Summer walk Saturday 16th July – Carmen Swanwick-Roa writes:

This year’s summer walk was led by Peter Cummings and started in his home village of Malham. A total of 16 linguists, partners and friends took on the 6.5 mile walk around a beautiful section of the Yorkshire countryside.

We met at The Buck Inn at 10:45 and I immediately regretted packing my heavy waterproof jacket and not my suncream and sunglasses. The walk began with a flat, clearly-marked path towards Janet’s Foss, a lovely waterfall around 20 minutes’ walk outside Malham. Around 5 minutes from the waterfall the narrow path began to resemble the Leeds ring road on a busy day – a tiny dormouse had created a tailback of around 30 walkers who had stopped to watch him washing and eating.

At Janet’s Foss, a few walkers turned off to take a flat route back to Malham and the rest of us went up a very steep hill which led us to a breathtaking view of Goredale Scar. There were a few sighs of relief when we learned that the rest of the route would be flat or downhill.

We stopped for lunch next to Malham Tarn and found a wall to park ourselves next to so we could shelter from the strong wind. At this point, I was glad to have brought a second layer and my big coat – the great British summer, eh? We’d lost a couple of speedy walkers who had gone on ahead, but they turned up just in time to get going after lunch, having found a spot by the tarn to eat their sandwiches.

The last leg of the walk took us to the top of Malham Cove and some fantastic limestone pavement that, according to some nearby children, resembled giants’ and dinosaurs’ feet. After hopping between the great rocks and taking in the spectacular view of the cove from above, we descended the steps (526, as counted by a rather tired little girl at the bottom) and headed back to Malham village for a drink in the sun at The Lister Arms.

Thanks to Peter for leading the walk and keeping the rain away.

SDL talk & AGM in York – Claudia Rennie writes:

On 25th June 2016 YTI members old and new gathered for our annual AGM event. It was another sunny day in York, with ample time for networking (read: nattering), sandwiches, and for the sun-worshippers amongst us, catching some rays and talking translation on the lovely terrace at Friends Meeting House.

The day kicked off with registration and coffees, with perhaps a more sombre mood than usual given the previous day’s shocking political result. The planned training session for the morning opened with an introduction to SDL – a familiar name to us all in terms of software – but the talk also touched on the translation agency side and an introduction to the processes and departments found at their offices in Sheffield.

Speakers Rachel Price and Andrew White gave an excellent presentation on post-editing machine translation (PEMT). One of the newer terms in the industry, post-editing in this instance relates specifically to using machine edited translations to produce a segmented Trados file (and yes, other translation software is available). They talked about the whole spectrum of the process, from producing a ‘good enough’ rendering for gist, time-pressured translations (light post-editing) or a publishable document (full post-editing). Perhaps as translators we don’t like to think of producing a ‘good enough’ translation: we like to think our documents are always polished and ready for the real world. But as pointed out in the presentation, for documents such as tenders and surveys, or any document with a ‘needed yesterday’ deadline, it’s definitely better than a client running it through Google translate.

It was an incredibly informative presentation, as always sparking lively debate: the redundant human translator doomsday scenario and other gems, (how reliability of MT is very much dependant on the language combination and many other factors) and how wrong machines can get it – I’ll think of roosters in a factory every time I hear ‘Gallo’ from now on. We discussed the (reassuring?) fallibility of MT, and the reliance it has on sweeping accurate translations in the first place. It was interesting to learn about the training of MT engines – a process with its roots in wartime code breaking.

As to productivity gains, Andrew, who uses PEMT for much of his workload, thought it could lead to a 30-50% increase in productivity. Some on the floor thought the time checking translations generated would outweigh any gain in productivity, a subject that cropped up in questions at the end of the presentation. Whether as translators we choose to offer clients discounted rates for the use of PEMT is of course up to the individual. And whether we chose to embrace the technology now or wait until such a time as the machine has received better training, are all decisions we must make based possibly on our language combinations and subject areas. There are some certainties though: PEMT represents an ever-increasing segment of the translation market, and MT is improving at a rate we perhaps would not have thought possible some years ago. I think many translators there would agree there could be a small amount of space in our ever-burgeoning translator tool kits to stash a bit of MT at some point in the future. But it won’t be a replacement for our capable human brains any time soon.

After the morning’s training session a sandwich, cake and fruit lunch followed, with plenty of time to get to know newer members and talk about the issues that cropped up in the session.

The AGM started promptly at 2pm, ably facilitated by Raquel Madrid in the absence of AGM stalwarts Charlotte and Paul who could not attend. The agenda followed the usual format, with reports from committee members: minutes for the meeting will be available to all members in due course. All news was positive, with the YTI enjoying a healthy balance sheet enabling further CPD events, a possible mentoring scheme, and bursaries for the ITI Conference (finer details to be confirmed at a later date).

Special thanks was given to Caroline Hirst who will be standing down from the committee. A big thank you to the YTI committee for organising another lively and informative event, and to Andrew and Rachel for their presentation. With most of us working as freelancers it’s invaluable to have events where we can meet face-to-face, learn from each other, and talk about our gripes. And it’s always nice to have an excuse to eat cake too.

Sheffield Doc/Fest, 14 June 2016 – Marie-Elizabeth Bell writes:

On a wet and windy mid-June afternoon, a small, but (again) select, group of YTI members met in Sheffield to attend the annual Doc/Fest or, to give its full name, the Sheffield International Documentary Festival, which I am reliably told, is the equivalent of Cannes for documentary films. This year was the 23rd Festival and the programme was certainly impressive with no fewer than 150 films from filmmakers from ‘UK, Europe (please note, I am just quoting here), North America, Asia, Latin America, and Africa’.

Among the several possible venues, some of which were outdoors, our coordinators wisely chose a rainproof one, i.e. the new Curzon theatre, where we were treated to a most moving film, Our Last Tango (“Uno Tango Más”), by Argentinian director, German Kral. Here is the official synopsis for those who missed the show:

“The first couple of tango, Juan and Maria Nieves, have experienced their share of pain and passion in their six decades as dancing partners. Combining behind-the-scene discussions and breathtaking choreographic re-enactments directed by Maria herself, Our Last Tango (by Wim Wenders’s erstwhile protégé German Kral) is a wonderfully imaginative tribute to the Argentinian dance form.” Not only was it moving, but also beautiful to watch, leaving the audience, at least me, ‘feeling the tango’ and wishing there was a milonga to follow.

Instead of a milonga, what followed was a short but interesting Q&A session with the director.

I feel at this point I should talk a bit about the Curzon, a Grade II listed building which used to be the Sheffield Banking Company. It is now a very trendy and welcoming cinema with three screens and, I must say, extremely comfortable seats! There is also a rooftop bar, with a terrace, although, unfortunately, it was just a little too wet for us to sit there.

After the show, our little group went to a nearby and very pleasant Italian restaurant for pizza and/or pasta to end a very enjoyable outing, thanks again to our wonderful coordinators. Watch out for next year’s edition!

Burton Constable Hall – Paul Clarke writes:

A select bunch of us met up at midday in beautiful sunshine and what, unfortunately, turned out to be quite a sharp breeze off the North Sea, to visit Burton Constable Hall and gardens, just to the east of Hull. Set in 330 acres of parkland, the Hall has a Capability Brown bridge built in the 1770s as a feature linking what had previously been Tudor fishponds – a theme continued to the present day as demonstrated by the numerous fishermen around the lake. We started with a quick picnic in the gardens before setting off on a walk around the lake and through some bluebell woods, chatting as translators will about customers good and bad, how to raise rates (always popular!), the teaching of languages and grammar (a Good Thing obviously) and what we do when we’re not riveted by the texts we translate.

Walking around the lake with the Capability Brown bridge in the distance.

The Hall itself has a wide variety of furnishings, including the most bonkers Chinese-themed light fittings some of us had ever seen, which wouldn’t have looked out of place on a Harry Potter film set.

Those of us still there at four o’clock met up in the restored stable block for some refreshment before setting off back home after what had been a very enjoyable visit to a corner of Yorkshire I’d never seen before.

From Bleak House to Marilyn Monroe – Miriam Bianco writes:

On 16th April 2016, Yorkshire Translators’ Network held its third legal workshop in York run by solicitor, David Hutchins on the topic of Company and Intellectual Property Law. A multitude of translators and newbies had gathered from across the region, and many interesting discussions – sparked by a motley range of questions and answers (and a few raised eyebrows) – were had, both during the workshop and in the café-bar afterwards.

Have you ever wondered about the differences between ‘void’ and ‘voidable contracts’? Or why the courts now talk of ‘claimants’ and not ‘plaintiffs’? Are a ‘sole trader’ and a ‘sole practitioner’ the same thing? Who was Right Honourable Lord Wolff … (and does he matter?) Heard of the Plain English campaign – thought you knew all about it…? How many types of ‘equity’ are there? Have you ever thought about the number of prosecutions for insider trading in the UK? (Well, why would you?)

If you’d like to know the answer to these and many other legal questions, this training was your chance. Alternatively or additionally, the anecdotes and stories sprinkled throughout the workshop were both funny and enlightening, giving much food for thought: from references to Enron to Dicken’s Bleak House, from Marilyn Monroe to Michael Douglas, from Ted Heath to Michael Gove.

The day provided a whirlwind tour of many of the important legal concepts and their applications in England. Legal terms were presented: there were affidavits and debentures, for example, injunctions and restraining orders, damages, indemnities and statements of truth, all used in legal English today. The complexities in this field are noteworthy: from apparently simple concepts of corporate personality and company constitutions to agency, floating charges and independent directors in company law to beneficial ownerships and the integrity right. The nuances of language were also plentiful, from disclosure, partnerships, preferences and WAGS, to Latinates: misfeasance.

There were reams of notes, typifying, of course, the Articles of Law, full of explanations and legalese. Documents on The Terminology of Companies, Company Law and other Business Structures, and Articles of Association, Property and Intellectual Property, and Patents were provided, some for reference, since, even at breakneck speed, there simply wasn’t enough time to go through all of them.  David did a brilliant job of navigating through them for the participants, with examples and translating the meaning of legal language into layman’s terms. Such insights prove invaluable for the legal translator seeking equivalence when there isn’t much and then finding solutions, the actual terms that will be used in the translation of different legal systems (from common law to civil codes) whether in Germany, Italy, France or elsewhere. A few faux amis were mentioned: magistrate, tribunal and jurisprudence.

For anyone new to this specialism, the workshop provided a fascinating introduction to law and business, and their current permutations in today’s political environment. For the experienced, the clarification on terminology and detailed explanations of what things mean and why, would have been undoubtedly useful too. For those avidly curious in-betweeners – explorers trying to find out and understand more about the language, wealth and power of the legal profession – this provided through a superb and entertaining introduction to the politics of law and business, or the law of politics and business. Suffice it to say that, for aspiring and established legal translators, this will remain a serious training option for their CPD.

Want to know more? Go to www.lexacomlegal.com for a range of courses.

Scales of Justice – Ruth Bartlett writes:

Our April outing was a mid-week trip to Bingley Little Theatre to see Scales of Justice, a courtroom drama, based on true events, about the struggle for justice of a recently naturalised German industrialist who is interned following the outbreak of World War I as a result of fraud committed by his local Member of Parliament.

The play was a perfect and timely fit for the YTI.  In it, Hans Muhler faces a monumental struggle to be accepted by his adoptive country and defined by his actions rather than by his country of birth.  Despite adopting the British nationality, marrying a British wife, identifying with British values and actively contributing to the war effort, he is viewed by his host nation primarily through the prism of his German nationality, something that is brought into sharp relief when war strikes.

This struggle to be accepted as an individual in the face of stereotypes and prejudice, particularly at a time of international crisis, will have resonated with the many of us who have made a life for ourselves overseas.  Moreover, the legal aspects of the drama whetted our appetites for the David Hitchens law course in York the following week.  We thoroughly enjoyed the play and this opportunity to take some time out for a mid-week bite to eat, a choc-ice and a chat with friends.

Thank you to Charlotte and Edwina for organising!

Meal at Las Iguanas Leeds – Matthew Popplewell writes:

On Wednesday 9 March, Yorkshire Translators and Interpreters (YTI) had its March social event at Las Iguanas in Leeds. Seventeen of us descended on the Latin American restaurant in the city centre on what was a very cold evening. After gathering in the bar area for drinks, we were taken to a long table large enough to accommodate all of us. Having placed our orders, a variety of dishes began to emerge, from nachos, to burritos, to fajitas and enchiladas. A number of the group also took advantage of the special offer on cocktails. With 21 different varieties, we were spoilt for choice!

Plenty to talk about while waiting for our food.

One of the things I really appreciate about YTI is that our members come from such a wide range of backgrounds in terms of nationality, languages, specialisms, and professional and life experience. As a result, there were probably almost as many topics of conversation as there were items on the menu! Certainly, in the rare moments when I wasn’t chin-wagging myself, I noticed that pretty much everyone was happily chatting away. The cold weather was now far from our minds and it was time for dessert. Churros were a popular option with those around me, but I was already full, so had to pass on the sweet treat in favour of a coffee.

All in all, it was a thoroughly enjoyable and worthwhile evening, and I’d like to thank Charlotte and Paul for organising it.

Automatic Speech Recognition software event, University of Leeds – Rhys Morgan writes:

Saturday 6th of February saw YTI members once again battling the elements, this time to get to the University of Leeds for an extremely well-attended event on Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) software led by the ever-enthusiastic Dragoș Ciobanu.

While most of the audience had never used ASR (even though it turns out that everybody with a smartphone can use it to write messages), there were mixed opinions about its benefits amongst the few audience members who already had experience with it. The presentation was a good opportunity to learn about how ASR works and to discuss the pros and cons of using it.

Essentially, it works by recognising phonemes then using probability scores to predict the word that was said. It uses a similar system to predict phrases based on the probability of certain words following certain others.

The reported benefits of using ASR relate to both a translator’s productivity and their health:

–          ASR gives, on average, a 30% productivity increase. Some professional translators surveyed even claimed a 500% increase, but remember that people like to brag and exaggerate.

–          It can help to prevent eye strain, neck pain and back pain by allowing you to move away from your desk and computer screen as you dictate (if you have a wireless microphone, of course).

–          It can also help to prevent repetitive strain injuries by allowing you to type less. A normal working day for a professional translator can involve 96,000 key presses, or 16 tons of force being applied by the fingers every day!

The disadvantages of using ASR were mostly related to operating the software and the amount of editing that can be required if the software doesn’t do a good job of understanding your speech. For ASR to work optimally, you need to:

–          Modify your speech. Your pace must be normal, and you should speak with predictable sound patterns. You must not speak in syllables, as ASR will likely transcribe each one as a separate word.

–          Speak with punctuation (“For example comma like this full stop”).

While it uses probability scores, ASR may get confused with homophones. For example, ‘know’ and ‘no’. Again, this can mean a fair deal of manual editing unless you master how to control your entire computer with your voice.

The true test of the software came at the end of the presentation with some audience participation with a particular piece of ASR software, namely Dragon Naturally Speaking. Faced with a rather broad Glaswegian accent, the poor thing didn’t know what had hit it. Making mistakes which had the audience in fits of laughter, there seemed to be no way back for it. The software had one last trick up its sleeve, though – it could be trained to recognise a new user’s speech. So, a few minutes later and having been given a crash course in Glaswegian, Dragon Naturally Speaking found its feet and transcribed nearly everything being said perfectly. Another victory for technology.

Personally, I believe that ASR software would be worth the investment if you learnt to use it properly and made the most of it. That being said, there are some people who say it isn’t worth the hassle. The only way to find out if it works for you is to try it for yourself!

Winter Walk – Saturday 16 January – Katie Lovell writes:

After a week of slightly crazy weather, it is fair to say that I was a little apprehensive for the walk as I had visions of us blowing around in blizzards on top of the hills. Instead, Saturday morning turned out to be a lovely day weather-wise and “we couldn’t have asked for a better day” was the general feeling among the happy YTI walkers.

I arrived a bit late at Menston train station and spotted the YTI walkers immediately as they stood in a circle of waterproof layers looking ready and raring to go. After collecting Carmen off the delayed train, we set off. Well, sort of. We set off in search of toilets, which, as we found out, are relatively hard to come by in Menston.

After a visit to the church hall’s toilets, we were really off this time. We ambled through Menston and eventually worked our way off the beaten track where we were overtaken by some keen looking runners. Kerry wowed us and revealed that she had in fact run parts of the route beforehand – I for one was very impressed.

The cold weather had done us a favour and had hardened the ground which otherwise would have been boggy and messy. However, we soon reached a farm and seasoned YTI walkers had flashbacks to ‘cowgate’ on a previous walk. It was here where we realised that perhaps the cold weather conditions weren’t working in our favour after all, as we were faced with a steep, icy slope that was the farm’s driveway but that more closely resembled a luge run (or is it skeleton? We never did work out the difference but decided you’d be mad to try either). Fearless in the face of danger, the YTI walkers traversed the icy slope and continued to follow in Kerry’s footsteps.

The walk started to climb up the hills and we were faced with fantastic views at the top. We held onto our hats as the wind picked up and remarked at what a great day it had turned out to be for a walk. On the other side of the hills, the ‘waterproofed warriors’ proved that teamwork makes the dream work as we encountered a small stream to be crossed. With the rocks being slippery from all the ice, it was tense. But no translator was left behind and we all managed to cross upright and with dry feet. On the other side, we noticed something beautiful which can only be described as Narnia-style grass. Luckily, Paul managed to take some pictures.

A perfect stop for a pit stop presented itself and we regained our strength by way of coffee and biscuits. After the dramas with slippery slopes and raging rivers, we celebrated our achievements with a team photo and set off in search of more Winter Walk adventures.

As a relatively new member of the YTI, and also a new member of the translating community in general, I found it particularly interesting hearing the topics of conversation throughout the walk. There was much discussion of future YTI events with the Voice Recognition Software Talk being hot on people’s tongues. I also found it interesting hearing about people’s views on different CAT tools, especially since the only knowledge I have on them is that they exist. The best part of the walk for me, however, was the opportunity to walk alongside fellow translators and to get to know them, whether it be how they work, what YTI events they are looking forward to, or their personal interests.

Our second pit stop was a tiny café at the top of yet another hill, also with fantastic views. By this time, we had established that we probably had had the best part of the day as the clouds started to draw in, however it did stay dry. There was a hubbub as we approached the café, as we discussed what homemade goods we would purchase; the flapjack emerged as the clear favourite. Kerry was first to order and snaffled the last flapjack, but we didn’t mind as she had led us on such a fantastic walk, and we didn’t get lost once – thank you Kerry. For me, a slab of ginger cake the size of your doorstep and a hot chocolate (complete with marshmallows) were what the doctor ordered and they saw me down to the pub at the end of the day.

We lost a few of the crew when we reached Ilkley, however the majority of us found refuge in the Flying Duck where more translators made up the numbers. Half a pint later and it was time for me to be heading off. On behalf of everyone who traipsed after Kerry that day, I would like to say a huge thank you to her for devising a wonderful route and to Charlotte for organising us all. I had a fantastic time and am already looking forward to the summer walk!