Guest post: Counting volumes in translation projects Reply

Nancy Matis is the author of the book How to manage your translation projects, originally published in French and translated afterwards into English.

Nancy has been involved in the translation business for around 20 years, working as a translator, reviser, technical specialist, project manager and teacher, among other roles. She currently manages her own translation company based in Belgium and teaches Translation Project Management at three universities. She also ran seminars at numerous universities across Europe and was involved in some European projects, designing and evaluating training materials for future translators and project managers.

You can find more information on her website.


Nancy is a ProZ.com professional trainer and the author of this guest blog post

I recently added a section on counting volumes to my Translation Project Management courses. During the two-hour session, we review the countable production unit types that can be taken into consideration for linguistic tasks (characters, words, lines, pages) and for technical tasks (pages, illustrations, animations). We also discuss the challenge of estimating hours, especially for some specific production steps. I feel future professionals should master this subject so they can analyse their own projects properly and work on a good basis for budgeting and scheduling. Although counting volumes does not generally pose many issues, in some cases it can turn into a finicky task that needs to be examined carefully.

Highly common projects, such as documentation localisation, sometimes include technical tasks, for instance desktop publishing and illustration localisation. All the unit sub-types should be meticulously counted, since productivity is not usually the same when working with different programs. For example, quantify the number of slides to reformat in Microsoft PowerPoint on the one hand and the number of pages in the Adobe InDesign files on the other. As the production effort will probably vary between these two tasks, unit rates and metrics must be adapted to arrive at a correct budget and schedule. Besides this point, although some discussion might arise on whether to include blank pages in the count, most of the time, counting pages is not a big deal. As far as illustrations are concerned, the first step is to identify those that need to be changed, since some might not require any translation or adaptation. We divide images containing text into those whose text can be extracted or overwritten and non-editable illustrations, which are more time-consuming. Screenshots are counted separately as the task involved is not the same as illustration translation.

Technical tasks that cannot easily be associated with countable source units, like software testing and debugging, multilingual website creation, animation rebuilding, etc., might become problematic as time estimates vary based on many factors (source material, clients’ requirements, guidelines, context, resources involved, etc.). This can sometimes lead to endless discussions with clients or subcontractors as everyone tries to justify the number of hours or the budget arrived at. Unfortunately, no single process can calculate the volume of working hours needed for those specific tasks. While underestimating will result in profitability issues, overestimating might frighten clients away to seek proposals with lower costs and shorter timeframes. Only in-depth analyses, assistance from senior staff and experience can help paint a realistic picture. But it is hard to prevent misestimates on technical tasks. If you have established a trusted relationship with your clients, you can potentially make an approximation, talk openly about it with your requestors and propose to fine-tune the planned working time after performing a certain percentage of the task.

When it comes to text to be translated or revised, however you quote, at some stage, you need to check the volume you have to deal with. You might use this information to prepare your quote, plan the time you’ll need and even assess your profitability. Or you might have to share this data with your clients, employees and sub-contractors. Even though counting characters or words is fairly easy in most cases, in some projects, this task can become quite complex. If you receive the source text on paper or in a scanned format, some pre-processing might be needed to determine the volume. Rough estimates could sometimes be enough, for you or the other stakeholders, but in many cases, an accurate count is preferred. On some occasions, source programs don’t contain any statistical features displaying the number of words or characters to process. Some translation requests might also involve audio or video files, for which the amount of text is not easy to count. Some text files might contain content not to be translated or not directly accessible, like scanned sections or embedded documents. Finally, when using the analysis features in Translation Memory (TM) tools to count words or characters, you might face problems such as document corruptions, lack of support for specific file formats, or even content not well processed or tagged. All this could cause some confusion and make you lose time or money.

During the course on volumes, I also explain to my students that people using different tools or methods, or even working on other computers, can get inconsistent results. To exemplify the problem, I created a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation, adding lots of shapes, frames, effects and animations and used various methods to count the source words. I launched an analysis on my own machine with a TM tool and asked some colleagues to do the same, using other TM tools or the same as mine. One of them even used the same version as my own tool. The results were not surprisingly quite varied. The table below shows the figures we obtained, considering only final word counts:
TM tool 1: 537 words
TM tool 2: 473 words
TM tool 3, version 2011: 648 words
TM tool 3, version 2015: 619 words
TM tool 3, version 2014 – on machine 1: 648 words
– on machine 2: 621 words
MS PowerPoint statistics: 553 words
Manual word count: 524 words

Due to the variation in the tools’ word counts, I decided to count the words manually, slide by slide, since, in my opinion, a manual word count could represent reality better. It was rather intriguing to see that one tool, whatever the version, was far above my own word count (from 18.1% to 23.6% more). I also found it interesting that the results of the MS PowerPoint statistical feature were close to the manual figure. In fact, I remember cases in which the TM tool analysis was much higher than the statistics shown in the layout program, which caused some conflicts with clients referring to the MS Word feature.

When I tried to understand the reasons for these differences, I found that (not exhaustive):

  • The Master slide in my .PTT file contained 10 words to be translated which had been extracted 12 times by TM Tool 3.
  • The translatable content of 2 frames had not been extracted by TM tool 2.

We know that tools use different word counting schemes. Nonetheless, when faced with a client asking us to justify why we have quoted 648 words when they counted 553, explaining that this is due to the tools we have chosen to use is tricky. Especially if we previously convinced them that those tools increase productivity and reduce quotes ;-). Obviously, this mainly occurs for files with heavy formatting, but it could still prove annoying.

You could overcome this problem by removing volume details from your quote, quoting per hour or indicating a lump sum. Nevertheless, you should be aware of potential issues that might, at times, create uncomfortable situations or erroneous estimates. Similarly, when using TM tools, making sure that all the translatable content has been properly identified is critical. You can double-check the target file to make sure nothing has been missed, but it is by far preferable to spot this before launching the translation process. Some file preparation might consequently be needed and, in some cases, I even recommend comparing the source text appearing in the TM tool with the content displayed in the source format to make sure everything has been properly extracted. Last tip, if available, cross-check the statistics in the source program against the final word count displayed in the TM tool.

Regardless of our role in a project, counting or checking volumes is essential in our daily management tasks. If you are the only person responsible for this task, being considered reliable is preferable, so you should ensure your counts are fair and the methods used easy to clarify. Being aware of potential issues is equally important. If you receive count data from end clients or translation agencies, be cautious and double-check them all before starting any work. Not everyone is trying to fool you, but they might have left out some important aspects of the project, failed to spot some file corruptions or were simply distracted. Whatever your case, knowing how to estimate volumes for your own work and possible pitfalls should normally help you deliver as promised and, hopefully, remain profitable.


Interested in learning more from Nancy about translation project management? Check out her following upcoming sessions (available in French):

Making an appealing “About me” section to win more projects on ProZ.com Reply

Anastasia Kozhukhova is a certified English to Russian translator specialising in legal, marketing and website content and member of the Union of Translators of Russia, the ProZ.com Certified PRO Network and IAPTI. Her work with high-end clients in different countries and partnership with UK-based marketing experts has given her invaluable insights into international marketing and current business trends, which she actively implements in her translation business. Anastasia also runs business training for translators, helping them to increase their income and boost their professional standing.


ProZ.com can be an invaluable tool for freelance translators. From start-ups to established agencies, from individuals to multinational corporations, it can be a significant source of both one-off and regular clients. Knowing this is one thing, but making sure you stand out from the crowd can be quite another. Why should a client choose you over another translator with the same languages? Your profile is your virtual shop window, and it needs to make an impact.

When I started out, I had no idea what clients were looking for in a translator profile. It is no big surprise, then, that my quote response rate was not what I was hoping for. I attended marketing conferences, took courses, signed up for coaching with a London-based specialist and put all of this knowledge to the test in the translation industry.

I wanted to make my About Me page really stand out, as this is the first thing a client sees when he or she clicks through from my quote, so I decided to structure it as a landing page.  This included using HTML, which I was not at all comfortable with – I’m sure you know the feeling. I enlisted the help of a web designer, who suggested a number of ways to make working with HTML much easier. I will explain how to get started, what to avoid and how to overcome technical difficulties in my webinar, ‘How to Make an Appealing “About me” Section to Win More Projects on ProZ.com’.

Once you have some basic HTML skills, it’s time to think about the appearance of your About Me landing page. A successful landing page is visually striking with high-quality marketing content. Professional, relevant images also have a big impact, as they create a connection with your potential client. It is always a good idea to break up larger chunks of text, too, and use icons and maps to highlight statistics and make your message clear and easy to read.

Putting all of this into practice resulted in an average of a response for every 5-6 quotes in my own translation business: a huge improvement on my previous untargeted, uninspired profile.

Are you ready to supercharge your About Me page and boost your quote response rate?


For more tips on creating a stunning and successful About Me section on ProZ.com, be sure to check out Anastasia’s webinar on this subject which will take place on May 30th.

Learn more here »

5 Translation Conferences you might attend in 2017 1

Pieter_Beens
Pieter Beens is a freelance translator and copywriter working in English to Dutch, and a frequent guest contributor to the Translator T.O. 

In this post, Pieter takes a look a few upcoming events for translators in 2017.


January has already come to an end. It’s February now and the conference season is about to start. In this article I present to you 5 translation conferences you might attend in 2017. They’re presented in order of date, so this overview can still be helpful if the first few are already past.

The benefits of attending a translation conference

Translating generally is a silent job. Many of us do not regularly meet clients or colleagues in daily life. At the same time it can be difficult to cope with all the changes in the industry or simply have a fresh view on what you’re doing or using day after day. Visiting a translation conference can be a good idea then. They offer you opportunities to meet like-minded colleagues from all over the world. As the conference often takes two or more days, there are a number of sessions, combined with some great relaxing opportunities. So there’s always something to take home for every participant: if you don’t like one presentation, it is compensated for by another.

And then there is the networking part of conferences. During conferences you’re drawn into discussions with forum members, fellow participants and providers of industry-leading software or tools (who in many cases sponsor the organization of the conferences). So don’t forget to take your business cards and networking apps, and exchange your details.

Translation conferences to attend in 2017
elia

EliaTogether, February 23-24, Berlin

EliaTogether is one of the biggest industry events in the European Union. Together is hosted by Elia, the European Language Industry Organization. It is held in a different city in Europe each year. This year it will take place in Berlin on February 23 and 24. The programme contains sessions for translators and interpreters, as well as for freelancers and agencies. Last year more than 300 participants were present, so it will be a huge event.

Registration is still possible. Rates are available at http://2017.elia-together.org/rates/

 

Translation and Localization Conference, March 24-25, Warsaw

tlc

The Translation and Localization Conference in Warsaw is unique. It hosts 350+ guests from all over the world (last year there were 30+ nationalities). The programme is both aimed at translators and interpreters. The TLC is held in Novotel Hotel in Warsaw, a great place to stay with a multitude of options to relax and enjoy great presentations. The location is good as are the facilities.

The TLC is organized by a couple of volunteers from the translation industry. They succeed each year in setting up a great event with several interesting tracks. Visit www.translation-conference.com/ for more information.

 

BP17, May 4-6, Budapest

bp

The Business and Practice Conference in Budapest is a yearly event that is aimed at freelance translators. It is organized by a translator and hosts a schedule full of masterclasses and business related presentations. All professionals that have a say at the conference are people with real hands-on experience as a translator. They therefore share their own knowledge and experiences, which makes this conference great for starters who want to learn more as well as for seasoned translators that want to network and share knowledge. The BP conference is also a kind of promotion for Hungary as the organization offers plenty time to learn to know the capital of Hungary.

Check out the full schedule at http://bpconf.com/

 

FIT Congress, August 3-5, Brisbane

fit

The International Federation of Translators hosts a conference every two years. The flagship conference will happen this year again. It welcomes translators, interpreters and other industry professionals to have their say about disruption and diversification.

The call for papers is still open, so you can try to secure your spot for hosting your own presentation at http://www.fit-ift.org/brisbane-2017/

 

ATA58, October 25-28, Washington D.C

ata

ATA58 is the 58th conference of the American Translator Association. It will be held in Washington D.C. this year. Each year the organization chooses a different location, but all conferences have in common that they are beyond spectacular. It is a typical American conference in that it is big and bold. There is room enough for networking possibilities, while there are also opportunities to meditate, fitness and relax.

During the conference there are options to pass the ATA examination, and the presentations are full of information for translators and interpreters alike.


ProZ.com
 Conference?

If there is a chance, ProZ.com tries to host its own conference each year. In the past the company held conferences in Rotterdam, Stockholm and other interesting cities. The ProZ.com conference is organized by volunteers from the massive translators and interpreters community with support of ProZ.com. This year’s conference is still unknown, but if there will be one it would certainly worth to visit with it’s great sight-seeing and networking opportunities and hands-on knowledge sharing.

rotterdamrotterdam2

Other translation conferences in 2017

Of course there are many more translation conferences to be held in 2017. They are spread over the whole world and have varying knowledge levels, networking and relaxing opportunities and price tags. Visit an overview of translation conferences in 2017 at https://www.vertaalt.nu/blog/translation-conferences-2017/


Guest post: 10 things translators need to know about machine translation 2

Meet Gwenydd Jonesa freelance Spanish to English translator and professional trainer. She has two MAs, the first in Translation Studies and the second in Legal Translation, and the DipTrans (CIOL). With 10 years’ experience, Gwenydd specializes in business, marketing and legal translation. She is also a copywriter.

Learn more about Gwenydd and some of the courses she offers by checking out her blog, translatorstudio.co.uk.


I don’t know about you, but I spend much of my life going from one translation project to the next. I want to learn about translation technology, but am always putting it off. Not my idea of fun. For me, m1074712_r55e018418b6a3achine translation is like the hologrammatic elephant in my home office.

Last June, I had to prepare a talk for the ProZ.com conference in Stockholm. Finally, an opportunity to confront the elephant. I set out to find answers to my questions, hoping to put my worries to rest. I wanted to find out: what is going on with machine translation? Is it a real threat to human translators? And if it is, what should we be doing about it?

In my webinar Your Essential Machine Translation Briefing, on 8 Feb, I’ll share what I found out. From the perspective of a technically challenged freelancer. In the first half, I’ll give you a summary of what is currently going on in machine translation. Then, I’ll share the strategies I’m employing in my work, to make sure I develop alongside automated translation. See you there!

In the meantime, here are a few things freelance translators need to know about machine translation.

  1. ‘Machine translation’ isn’t the same as ‘translation memory’ or ‘CAT tool’

Sometimes translators get these terms muddled up, which is understandable. A computer-assisted translation (CAT) tool is an application where you can write your translations. It uses translation memories (TMs) to keep a record of all your past work. Don’t confuse that with a machine translation (MT) engine. An MT engine is an application that automatically translates a text. You can integrate MT with your CAT tool, but they are two different pieces of software. They have different functions.

  1. Machine translation is more effective with certain text types

Since computers rely on data and rules, the more predictable a text, the better the output will likely be. Formulaic and simple texts work well. Creative and complex texts don’t. Life sciences, finance, IT and other technical genres lend themselves to machine translation. But while financial accounts are formulaic, an accountant’s blog is far less predictable. With the second, you may well be faster on your own, particularly if you use voice recognition.

  1. Machine translation engines get better results when they’re customised

Translators and companies that are serious about machine translation aren’t using Google Translate. They get their own machine translation engines and train them for a specific domain. They do this by inputting their translation memories. After that, they input more data on an ongoing basis, so the machine keeps adapting to them. This is how they get more accurate output. Then they post edit it and feed the final translation back into the machine. With a suitable text type, this helps them finish the translation faster than if they did it from scratch.

  1. Neural machine translation is a major change in the translation industry

The world of machine translation is starting to harness deep learning. This is based on neural networks. Neural networks have lots of uses in artificial intelligence. Language processing is one of them. So, computer scientists can use them to improve machine translation. Companies that are using neural machine translation include: Google, Microsoft and Facebook.

  1. Google Translate is now using neural machine translation in some language combinations

Google recently announced that it is using neural machine translation in Google Translate. For now, it is limited to certain language combinations. They rolled it out with a total of eight language pairs. All are to and from English, combined with French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Turkish. It’s free, but remember the data is public, so you can’t use it if you’ve signed a confidentiality agreement. Google Translate isn’t customised (see point 3), but it has lots of data. The jury is still out on how good the updated tool is.

  1. You can subscribe to your own machine translation engine and train it

You may not realise that companies that develop machine translation engines sell subscriptions. You can even pay to train your own engine using your translation memories. Post-editing isn’t just about an agency sending you texts. You can learn how to post edit, get a customised engine and then do whatever you want with it. The profits and control will be all yours.

  1. Companies that sell machine translation are battling for your business

If you want to try machine translation, you have to go shopping for a provider. The different companies that offer machine translation solutions (including SDL, Lilt and Systran) publish data to show how effective their software is. It’s all quite technical and confusing. And it can be biased. You can go to TAUS and the eMpTy Pages blog, for unbiased information.

Perhaps, like me, you prefer to see for yourself. One way of doing this is to observe yourself for a month in your work, and see how many words you average per hour. Then, pick whichever machine translation software takes your fancy and use it for a month. Track your turnover to see whether your hourly average gets faster or not. Then you’ll have your own data to tell you whether it’s worth continuing to invest.

  1. Machine translation isn’t currently replacing human translators

Improvements in machine translation don’t mean we’re all out of a job. But, it may mean our jobs will start to change. Commercial translation is often about getting an acceptable translation as quickly as possible. You can complete some texts faster by using customised machine translation and post-editing. And sometimes that is what the customer wants. As machine translation continues to get better, we can expect demand for post-editing to grow.

  1. Machine translation pricing isn’t set in stone, yet

While machine translation has a long history, it’s still being consolidated in our industry. Lots of translators and translation agencies are struggling to get their heads around it. Some translators are concerned that post-editing means lower pay. Certainly, ruthless agencies will try to use it as another way of driving prices down.

But, that doesn’t mean smart translators can’t use it to increase their profitability. Why shouldn’t we earn more on the days we work as post editors? If we learn about it, and talk about it, we’ll soon know how we want to price it. We’ll know when to refuse a job. Translators can choose to accept post-editing jobs only when they’re going to make more money for their time.

  1. Freelance translators have options regarding machine translation

We don’t all have to go running for the hills before the robots attack. Becoming a post editor is just one option open to us. If you like the idea of it, you could post edit for agencies. But, you could also subscribe to your own engine and use it in your work. If you don’t want to post edit, there are a host of specialisation and diversification options.

Whatever path you end up choosing, now is a good time to get informed and come up with a plan. If major changes do take place in our industry, I for one will be ready for them. Ready to adapt. To continue being the one who controls my career. To protect my rates, serve the direct customer competitively, and understand the jobs (and prices) agencies offer me.

I encourage you to join me at my webinar on 8 Feb, Your Essential Machine Translation Briefing. I’ll share everything I’ve found out about machine translation, in simple, unbiased terms. I’ll also tell you the strategies I’ve come up with, and am now employing in my work. Sign up here!

Standing out in the translation jungle with Fi2 n Co Reply

Your ProZ.com profile is your business card to the world. It forms part of your online presence that provides in-depth details on your language services, and is a space you can use to distinguish yourself as a professional. But out of over 800,000 profiles on ProZ.com, how do you set yourself apart from the rest?

In this video, ProZ.com professional trainer Fi2 n Co describes one way in which you can leverage the features available in your ProZ.com profile to stand out in the translation jungle, so to speak: by adding extra tabs to further customize your profile and provide more information about your background, experience, field of expertise, credentials, or professional services.  



Profile sections mentioned in this video:
Your profile
Settings tab
Custom tabs

Be sure to keep an eye on Fi2Pro’s YouTube channel for more useful tips and tutorials. More videos coming soon!


Interested in learning more on how to use your ProZ.com profile to meet new clients and stand out from the crowd? Join an upcoming webinar on “Meeting clients at ProZ.com” to learn some tips and tricks on getting the most out of the site, as told by a ProZ.com site staff member. These sessions are held regularly and are completely free to attend.

ProZ.com’s VI Brazilian conference in Curitiba: Video interview with keynote speaker Paula Ribeiro Reply

Paula Ribeiro, freelance language professional, mentor, trainer, conference organizer, and founder of the Portuguese Association of Translators and Interpreters (APTRAD), is one of many extraordinary speakers who will be presenting at ProZ.com’s upcoming regional event in Curitiba, Brazil, on September 24th and 25th.

In the interview below, the co-organizers for this event – Isabel Vidigal and Sheila Gomes – interview Paula on the impact of in-person conferences on the Portuguese translation community, and on the need for creating a bridge between the European and Brazilian language industries. The video is available entirely in Portuguese. Enjoy!


Join over 160 colleagues from 10 different countries who have already registered for this event by clicking the “Sign up now” button on the left side of the main conference page: http://www.proz.com/conference/686

To reserve your seat, just click on one of the “Buy now” buttons on that page, or make your payment in the local currency using the instructions available in the “Opção de pagamento em reais” section. Don’t delay! The regular pricing option will only be available for a few more weeks!

A landscape of proofreading with Kelli Semolini and Giovana Boselli Reply

Wondering what to expect at ProZ.com’s VI Brazilian conference in Curitiba this September? Check out this video interview featuring event co-organizer Sheila Gomes and conference speakers Kelli Semolini and Giovana Boselli about their joint session: “Panorama da revisão” or “A landscape of proofreading“.

In the interview, Kelli and Giovana shared stories and answered questions about their experiences as proofreaders and editors. The interview is entirely in Portuguese. Enjoy!