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 A computer journal for translation professionals

Issue 15-8-251
(the two hundred fifty first edition)  
1. Pharrell is HAPPY! (Premium Edition)
2. Start Me Up!
3. Helping Authors (Premium Edition)
4. Reaching Out
5. New Password for the Tool Box Archive
The Last Word on the Tool Box
Costly Matters

The lieutenant-governor handed the parchment document, inscribed in beautifully intricate longhand, to the missionary and Bible translator Henry Williams as the sun set over the Northland region of New Zealand on February 4, 1840. The urgency was apparent: tomorrow morning 39 Māori chiefs would assemble to debate this document, the Treaty of Waitangi, that would decide the future of New Zealand, and it must be translated overnight. Literally.

All potential parties to this treaty were highly motivated to come to an agreement. The indigenous Māori population was in disarray, threatened by marauding white traders and whalers and ravaged by a series of bloody tribal wars, made all the more devastating and gruesome by the recent European introduction of muskets. In response to a plea to King William IV from the Māori chieftains, the British government had dispatched William Hobson to New Zealand in 1839 to establish a British colony. Now, after a marathon four-day session of crafting and re-crafting the English text, Captain Hobson was passing it off for a rush translation.

Williams and his son had a good command of the Māori language, having lived and worked in New Zealand for 17 years. But the language intricacies of diplomacy and governance would prove to present some nuances that Williams was ill-equipped to navigate.

Nonetheless, the next morning the Māori chieftains and British representatives gathered in a marquee on the lawn in front of the British Resident's house to listen to the treaty read first in English and then in Māori. At its conclusion the chiefs began their negotiations, with Williams explaining, persuading, and elaborating throughout the day and long into the night. As the new morning was about to dawn and their food had run out, all of the chiefs signed the treaty. During the next eight months government agents carried the treaty to other areas of the North Island of New Zealand, eventually gathering 500 more signatures of Māori leaders.

Unfortunately, the treaty failed on many fronts to provide what the Māoris had hoped for. In fact, their dissatisfaction eventually resulted in the formation of the Waitangi Tribunal, established in 1975 and still going on today, charged with making recommendations for reparations by the government of New Zealand.

After all the careful protocol and attempts at consensus, what caused this dissatisfaction?

There is more than one explanation, certainly, but one primary fault can be traced directly back to that hurried overnight translation. Consider this:

In the text of the original English treaty, the Māoris were to agree to

. . . cede to Her Majesty the Queen of England absolutely and without reservation all the rights and powers of Sovereignty. . .

which is translated as

. . . ka tuku rawa atu ki te Kuini o Ingarani ake tonu atu te Kawanatanga . . .

Even if you don't read Māori fluently, you might actually be able to spot a potential problem. You may be able to recognize that the last word of the Māori translation (Kawanatanga) is actually a transliteration - not of the English word "sovereignty," though, but of "governance" or "government" (wanna guess what "Kuini" and "Ingarani" mean?).

In a retranslation back into English, the text says:

. . . give absolutely to the Queen of England for ever the complete government . . .(translation by Professor Sir Hugh Kawharu)

The Māori leaders who had hoped for the installment of a legal system to protect them from the lawless behavior of foreigners and restore order into their own systems were ready to allow the British crown to take over the governance, but they were not willing to sign away their sovereignty of their land. Yet that is exactly what happened.

Why did this translation error happen? Some linguists argue that there were existing Māori terms to describe the concept of sovereignty (rangatiratanga or mana), but it's possible that Williams and his son were either not aware of those terms or were actually acting in the perceived interest of their own government back in Britain and therefore used the term they knew had a greater likelihood of meeting with Māori acceptance.

And the cost of all of this? 1 billion NZD in reparations so far.

(This story also appeared in much shortened form along many other stories in Found in Translation.) 

1. Pharrell is HAPPY! (Premium Edition) 

Yes, I know that the Farrell in Michael Farrell is spelled differently than his famous almost-namesake, but how can we not mention it when discussing Michael's all-new, all-fresh, and mostly happy IntelliWebSearch.

IntelliWebSearch again? I know I've written about this plenty of times, but there are good reasons for it. There is probably no tool on my computer (aside from my email client and a web browser) that I use quite as consistently as this little tool. By just pressing a keyboard shortcut, it brings me to any number of websites and dictionaries where I can find the specialized term I'm looking for, a long list of approximations to get my creative juices flowing, or the long form of the abbreviation I've been puzzling over.

Plus, this time it really does make sense to write about IntelliWebSearch again since the just-released version 5 is indeed a very different tool than its predecessor, and not only because it is now a paid tool (20 euro for an annual license for three computers). Let's talk about this a moment before I go on to its new features. I'm happy that Michael is now charging for his tool. We all like free stuff, but putting a price tag on something tends to professionalize it, both in the eyes of the vendor and the user. It reimburses the vendor for time already spent and encourages him to spend ever more time with the product and make it ever more professional.

Kudos for taking a step toward that goal. And for the stingy among us, the previous free version 3 is still available and has been promised to be available for good.

Now to the new features.

When IntelliWebSearch was first released, it required a good deal of "coding" for users to compose specific searches in their specific language combinations. Later some reasonably good instructions and a database of preconfigured searches helped this process, and later still a wizard was introduced to help compose the search scripts. Though the original wizard really wasn't that great, that's all changed now. Now you can select between a wizard that essentially does everything for you (you just have to enter the address of the dictionary) and one that guides you through the more complicated sites. I really liked that if composing the search still didn't work, the wizard asks "Should I try it another way?", and does just that after you OK it. If it still hasn't given you what you're looking for, it tries it yet another way. In summary, Michael has tried his very best to bring even the least technical people into the fold and has largely succeeded.

I say "largely" because there are some settings ("keyboard hook," "copy method") that made no sense to me either in the software or in the help system, but those clearly were in the minority.

"Obfuscation data" at first also sounded like it belonged in that category, but I ended up understanding it and think it's really clever. Obfuscation refers to the user's ability to create project-specific lists of terms that she wants replaced when sending a query to, say, Google Translate, so the data is anonymized and cannot be pointed to a specific client. For instance, if you translate something for Samsung, you can automatically replace "Samsung" with "Apple" so in any segment you send to Google for a pretranslation the two terms are exchanged. And only when you paste it back into your translation is it automatically changed back to the original term. It's a clever concept, especially when using something like Google Translate without the API, which means the data will indeed go to Google (it does not do that if you use the API through something like a translation environment tool).

The look has also changed drastically. Gone is the amateurish look, giving way to an attractive, professional look:


And those who are experienced with the tool can quickly see that the previous limit of searchers within one group (10) is now gone and is open-ended.

The thing I like best about the new version is that it works uninterruptedly. The old version 3 used to give out every once in a while on my computers and had to be shut down and restarted. This does not seem to be an issue with version 5, and that makes me Happy. 


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2. Start Me Up!

Microsoft just released a new version of Windows. But who am I telling that to? If you're able to read you'll certainly have heard that particular piece of news.

Still, in comparison to launches of earlier versions of Windows, this launch is relatively subdued. I distinctly remember when Windows 95 was launched and Microsoft bought the whole print run of The Times of London, printing twice as many as normal and giving them all away. And all to the music of the Rolling Stones.

"Start Me Up" by the Stones seemed a clever theme song at the time because the Start menu was introduced as the next big thing. Well, there's no Windows 10 review right now that doesn't begin by mentioning that the Start menu is back! Maybe the licensing rights are still in place and that song could be used again? (Surely they can still afford it. The story goes that Bill Gates personally called up Mick Jagger to ask how much it would cost to use the song. Crafty Mick threw out the biggest and most ridiculous number he could think of -- to which Bill gladly and immediately agreed. Those were the days...)

Anyway, I can't say much about the new version yet, but as I've done for the last few Windows releases I will look at some of the new translator- or translation-related features and write about them in the next few editions of the Tool Box Journal.

Of course, the truth is that operating systems are not nearly as important as they used to be, and I wouldn't be completely surprised if I end up hardly mentioning the next Windows upgrade at all (if indeed there is one). So much of what we're doing (and going to do) is centered on the web, where operating systems are barely of any relevance at all.

Case in point: When I sent out a message to tool vendors asking for the compatibility of their respective tool(s), I had to remove a good third from my list because their tools are solely web-based (of Java-based).

For those who remain, here are the answers (in the vendors' own words -- if you don't find yours among them, they most likely just didn't respond):

  • Across: Windows 10 will be supported starting with Across 6.3. This version will be released in the fall.
  • Déjà Vu: We have been testing DVX3 periodically with the pre-release versions of Windows 10, and did not encounter any issues. We have just finished testing with the final version which was released yesterday, and have not found any issues either. We will of course continue testing, but we can safely say that the current build of Déjà Vu X3 is compatible with Windows 10.
  • Fluency Now is already fully compatible with Windows 10.
  • Logiterm, AlignFactory: Terminotix' products are fully Windows 10 compatible.
  • MadCap software (MadCap Lingo) is testing and will fully support Windows 10.
  • memoQ: At this point, we're currently testing. We'll keep you posted as we have more.
  • Memsource supports Windows 10 and we expect no issues based on our testing.
  • Metatexis: Yes, the MetaTexis programs do run in Windows 10! I have just confirmed this with the official Windows 10 release.
  • MultiTrans: Thank you for checking in. Yes, in anticipation of the Windows 10 release, we tested our applications in advance and on release day we can confirm we have full compatibility.
  • SDL Studio 2015 is compatible from day 1 and will also support all languages in Windows 10 (it's hundreds of new ones, both main languages and 'sublanguages' such as English (Belgium)...). We are also looking at making these languages available on Win 8.1 and Win 7 with a future update for Studio (MultiTerm 2015 supports these languages already now even on Win 7 and Win 8.1). So it was a key focus for us to be as proactive as possible on the Win 10 OS side so we ensure smooth support in both Studio and MultiTerm 2015.
  • Similis is OK on Windows 10.
  • Star Transit: We have received various prelease versions of Windows that we have tested successfully with Transit NXT and TermStar NXT. We are presently verifying the positive test results with the final release version of Windows 10 to be able to officially confirm compatibility with that version of Windows.
  • Text United: Well, we have not formally verified if Text United App achieved full compatibility, but we don't have any problems with running it on Windows 10.
  • Wordfast: We have verified full compatibility for WF Classic, PRO, and Anywhere.
  • Xbench: We did some testing with the W10 beta and did not run into any compatibility issues (this was tested a couple of months ago). Sometime later this week, when W10 is actually released, we will run a regression test to double-check if everything still works (we're optimistic given the lack of issues with the beta).

Overall summary: Most vendors aren't seeming to sweat the switch to Windows 10 too much, but it might be a good idea to wait a little bit before upgrading your operating system. Or simply ask yourself: Do I need an upgrade if I'm happy with my present one?

One other thing to consider is that the tool vendors' answers always refer to the latest version of their software. In cases where you automatically upgrade the software as part of the vendor's business model, this won't make a difference. But in some cases it does. For instance, see this discussion that Damián Santilli had with a representative of SDL on Twitter. 


SDL Trados Studio 2015: a customer focus on features

SDL Trados Studio 2015 builds on the innovation of previous versions and has evolved through close collaboration with our customers.

We highlight some of the key new features with some short video demos and views from customers and SDL users to show why they think Studio 2015 is our best version yet.

Discover what Studio 2015 Freelance customers are saying » 

Discover what Studio 2015 Professional customers are saying »

3. Helping Authors (Premium Edition)

In the last Tool Box Journal I wrote about MindReader, the TM-based authoring system developed by Star. MindReader connects technical authors to translation memories, monolingual corpuses, and termbases, all of which display suggestions as the authors compose. This allows authors not only to produce material more quickly but also in a more consistent manner -- which in turn has a big impact on the translation process.

Tools like this have been around for some time, and I mentioned (and believe) that it's partly our fault that they haven't been more successful. After all, we are the ones who struggled for so long to come to terms with TM-based technology and thus should know what it takes to convince writers to overcome the same hesitation.

So, when Steven Kahaner pointed me to RM-Source, I wasn't overly impressed at first, but I ended up really liking what I saw.

RM-Source is a tool by the Spanish company RM-Soft that is similar in principle to Star's offering (since they obviously like the "RM" so much I thought, wow, there must be something really special behind that acronym; no, not so much -- it's short for Rocio and Miguel, the co-owners). There are two fundamental differences, however: the checking of texts happens once the authoring is done, and the price is a lot lower (it's free for individual users and costs $100 for multi-user accounts). The setup is also shockingly simple. You create a database by adding DOCX, HTML, FrameMaker, text, RESX, RC or bilingual PO, XLIFF, and TMX files to the online interface, set a match level (the lowest level from which comparisons between the database and authored files should be made), and then upload the files that need to be verified in all the format mentioned above (without the bilingual formats).

The files are then analyzed (again all this happens on Amazon's AWS offering and is accessible from your web browser's interface) and a report is displayed showing how many segments are suggested to be changed. Double clicking on each of the files brings up the text of the file within your browser, and you are pointed to the segments in question so you can decide one by one whether the change should be implemented or not. If the segment is to be changed, you click Replace and jump to the next suggested change; otherwise you click Skip.

This happens file by file, and once done you can download them individually into their native format or collectively within a zip file.

The simple setup of the tool also mirrors its simple mechanics. All it does is look for close matches, and if it finds one, it prompts you to use the segment in the database. So the segment "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" would be shown as a suggestion for replacement for "the fast brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" as much as for "the slow brown fox jumps over the lazy dog"; ergo you want to avoid blindly accepting suggestions.

I wonder whether there is a second chance for tools like this, and I also wonder whether it would have to be tools that implement changes after the authoring is done rather than during the authoring process. This avoid impinging on the authors' feelings (though on the flipside, there won't be any improvement in the writing). Why might tools like this have a second chance overall? I'm afraid the answer to that might be the rising importance of machine translation since it, just like translation memory, likes conformity in writing to deliver better results.

Oh, and to come back to RM-Source: It's still in beta, so you might have to contact Rocio or Miguel to ask for a login. Miguel promised that once it's out of beta there will be more file formats supported and maybe more languages (presently all languages with Latin and Cyrillic characters are supported). 


Fast and customizable monolingual term extraction software

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Visit for the online user manual and trial version.  

4. Reaching Out

I had a rewarding and helpful discussion with a freelance journalist who writes for Forbes and the Financial Times that I would like to share with you:

5. New Password for the Tool Box Archive

As a subscriber to the Premium version of this journal you have access to an archive of Premium journals going back to 2007.

You can access the archive right here. This month the user name is toolbox and the password is mydogisaseehund.

New user names and passwords will be announced in future journals.

The Last Word on the Tool Box Journal

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