Guest post: 10 things translators need to know about machine translation 3

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 Business membership as a promotional tool Reply

The corporate badge

ProZ.com Business membership includes the benefits associated with Professional membership, such as unlimited Blue Board access, plus a set of tools and opportunities available exclusively to Business (formerly Corporate) members.

As is the case with the Professional membership, the Business membership keeps evolving to provide more value to the translation companies that chose this path of growth.

Many of these tools and opportunities provide operational advantages, such as the translation center currently used by several members to deliver millions of words to their customers, the employee profiles and improved risk management tools.

Other advantages have to do with premium service, such as the immediate posting of jobs, Blue Board arbitration and priority response to support requests, including phone support.

This note will deal with a separate set of tools and opportunities aimed towards providing promotional opportunities, based on the principle that all promotional tools for outsourcing companies will be focused on ProZ.com Business members.

A first tool is the privileged positioning given to Business members in the Translation agency and company directory, the industry’s busiest directory for finding language service providers (over  400 daily connections between language services buyers and providers).

Also, only Corporate members may apply for inclusion in the ProZ.com Certified PRO Network, giving them increased credibility,  visibility and promotion

Among the tools already released, a new promotional box (displayed below) is now  presented in the Blue Board records of Business members, as well as in the jobs posted by them.

bb_corp_header

As another example, currently being developed, is a code for a portable badge will be provided to Business members in order to let them display on other pages, such the company’s corporate web page, the average Likelihood of Working Again with them entered by its service providers. This is similar to the badge provided to Translators Without Borders volunteers.

bbbadge2


The above are just a few instances of many changes to come, where the logo of Business members will be presented every time the companies are displayed on ProZ.com, and relevant ranking tables will be made exclusive for Business members.

An investment in ProZ.com Business membership  provides value today and well into the future. Let’s all grow together!

 

Ranking your ProZ.com profile: A tutorial by panelist Triston Goodwin 1

I recently had the pleasure of moderating a panel discussion entitled “What makes a great ProZ.com profile” during the Marketing & Recruitment day of ProZ.com’s annual virtual event series. During the session, co-panelists and outstanding ProZ.com members Fernanda Rocha and Triston Goodwin provided many tips and suggestions on how to get the most out of your presence on the site in order to attract more clients and find work. But, for as much as we were able to cover during the discussion, both panelists still had a lot more to say on the subject.

In the video below – made shortly after the panel – Triston describes other strategies to leverage your presence on ProZ.com to find work both on and off the site. What he describes is the concept of parasite ranking – which is, in Triston’s words, a technique used “to rank a page from another website that has really good metrics for a keyword that you want to rank for, then use that ranking to send people back to you.” Learn more in this tutorial:



Profile sections mentioned in this video:
Tagline
About Me
CV/Resume
Portfolio
Search Engine Optimization tab:

Title tag
Keywords (Focus on long-tail keywords!)
Preferred URL format

Suggested resources:
https://moz.com/researchtools/ose
http://kwfinder.com


Many thanks to Triston for this great tutorial on how to harness the power of effective SEO to improve your chances of meeting more (and better) clients!

Interested in learning more? Be sure to keep an eye on Triston’s newly-created YouTube channel aimed at helping language professionals grow their businesses online.

The translation center now offers in-platform invoicing and communications during the assignment of tasks Reply

Two important features have been added to the translation center powered by ProZ.com and made available to ProZ.com Business members.


In-platform invoicing

The translation center now includes the tools needed for you to assign a purchase order to each task in the translation center. These purchase orders can then, once the corresponding tasks have been completed, be used by the service providers to submit you the corresponding invoices through the system. The company can them approve or reject invoices, keep track of the accounts payable, mark invoices as paid and be notified of late payments.

Purchase orders

A purchase order (PO) can be easily created for each task to be assigned to a service provider, including:

  • Information such as preferred currency, payment terms and payment conditions can be entered in the translation center settings and taken automatically from there for each purchase order
  • Service provider and date of assignment, taken directly from the workflow information
  • Scope of the assignment, taken from the job information
  • Information on rate, units, volume and total amount, selected when the PO is created. Units can be selected as source or target words, source or target lines, pages, hours and minutes. It is also possible to import an SDL Trados analysis, as displayed below.

Example of TC PO

 

The purchase orders menu

The Finance → Purchase orders menu option will present to the service providers all the purchase orders associated with tasks assigned to them, with information that includes PO number, date of assignment, scope, assignment status, invoice (when issued) and associated amount. There are menus for searching among the POs and also to locate assigned tasks that do not have a complete PO associated with them.

When used by the company that manages the translation center, this option will present the same information for all service providers that have or had tasks assigned to them.

The invoices menu

The Finance → Invoices menu option will present to the service providers all the invoices they submitted through the system, including the invoice number, due date, included POs, approval status, payment status and money amount. There is a tool for searching invoices and a button to submit an invoice.

This last tool will enable the association of several POs in a single invoice, provided that all are expressed in the same currency and have the same payment terms. A due date will be automatically calculated. The service provider will also be able to submit an actual invoice in digital format.

When used by the company managing the translation center, this option will present the same information for all service providers. In this case there are no provisions for the creation of an invoice. By opening the page corresponding to any invoice it will be possible to edit the approval status (approve, edit, reject) and to mark it as paid.

Communications during the assignment of tasks

At the critical moment of assigning tasks to service providers, the translation center had only two options:

  1. Offering the task to a team of providers, and let any of them to accept the task and have it assigned
  2. Manually assigning the task to a provider

In none of these cases was it possible for service providers to communicate with the job poster, and this translated in an operation with little flexibility and that had to rely on communications managed outside the platform.

This has changed. When you create a work order and you define the conditions to post your jobs in any of the selected language pairs, you will find the new options (the default selection is stored in the translation center settings to save you time when creating the work orders):

Task assignment options

The first condition corresponds to the current situation, where any invited service provider will be able to accept a task. This is the best alternative when you have a tight deadline and want the file accepted as soon as possible.

The second option is totally new. Instead of an acceptance button, the invited service providers will be only able to post messages (for instance letting you know about their availability and interest) and you will be able to manually assign any of the tasks to any of your qualified service providers.

In both cases invited translators will be able to communicate with you even when they have still no task assigned (this is also new) and you will be able to post messages visible to all invited translators or to any particular provider, and to follow a conversation as seen by any of the invited translators.

 


If you are a ProZ.com Business member, or consider becoming one, and want to learn more about the translation center powered by ProZ.com, please contact me via email or submit a support request.

An approach to risk management in the language industry (part 5 of 5) Reply

This last part of an article first published in the June 2016 issue of the MultiLingual magazine, presents some practical examples of the application of risk management policies in the language industry. 


Some practical examples

A few concrete cases are included here as example of risks to be found, as well as their possible remedies. Non-linguistic examples have been selected, as experience shows that people in the language industry tend to overemphasize the linguistic aspects of life.

Area: Commercial / marketing

Risk: A new client request comes from a scammer

Remedy: Scams are a typical case for avoidance. Check the fraud-prevention information available at http://www.proz.com for a comprehensive coverage, but in a nutshell you should possess a general knowledge on how scammers work, always request verifiable contact information from any possible client or provider, and take steps to verify those details yourself.

Area: Commercial / marketing

Risk: A key client goes bankrupt, damaging your business

Remedy: To reduce the probability, keep an eye on signs of impending problems within the customer (comments from the client, news, social media comments) or lack of client satisfaction (client wants some service you do not provide, comments about your service, quality or prices). To reduce the impact, no single client should represent more than 25% of your work.

Area: Commercial / marketing

Risk: “Feast or famine” market fluctuations can severely affect normal operation

Remedy: Keep money reserves or a line of credit for dry periods. Develop a network of trusted providers to outsource extraordinary peaks of demand. Consider collaborating with colleagues (if you can turn a competitor into an ally, they may also share with you their own overflows).

Area: Infrastructure / technology

Risk: Catastrophic infrastructure failure affecting work and deliveries

Remedy: Create redundancy in your infrastructure. Contact an additional internet provider. Keep an active policy of information backups. Define, in advance, contingency procedures and train your people to follow them.

Area: Infrastructure / technology

Risk: Hostile hacker steals confidential information belonging to your organization or your clients

Remedy: Hire a consultant to devise the technological and procedural tools needed to ensure information security. Train your staff in the corresponding procedures and monitor them.

Area: Project management

Risk: Some critical requirement from the client was not recorded in the scope definition of a project, resulting in low customer satisfaction, rework and negative impact on the time and cost objectives.

Remedy: Scope management is your responsibility. Even if the client failed to communicate a project parameter, you (the language service professional) should have asked about it. Develop a checklist with the elements to consider in all projects (tool requirements, CAT tool analysis, input and output formats, language register, expected audience, requirements for partial deliveries, cultural considerations, etc.)

Area: Project management

Risk: Provider fails to deliver

Remedy: Rely on trusted translators. Keep a strong vendor management policy. Maintain good communication channels with them in order to detect problems as soon as possible. Provide and request feedback. Have backup providers to activate them if the designated one drops from the project.

Conclusions

Risk management is the tool to proactively manage the uncertain nature of life and work, and it should be part of the toolbox of any organization (including unipersonal ones). Consider the simple approach suggested in this note or deliver your own. Risk awareness and preparation, sensible processes and a focus on learning lessons from errors and problems should be part of any definition of professionalism.

This article first appeared in the June 2016 issue of MultiLingual magazine. Reproduced with permission.

The translation center powered by ProZ.com offers new features to ProZ.com Business members Reply

New features and tools have been added to the translation center powered by ProZ.com and made available to ProZ.com Business members


Improved reference information

Several new features have been added to improve the availability of reference information available to the service providers assigned to any given job. Among them:

Projects

Projects can now be defined for any given client, and they can include one or more work orders. Among the information in a project you have a field for project instructions, and these instructions will be displayed in all jobs associated with the project. This is a very cost-effective way of conveying your reference information. A project can also be used, for instance, to coordinate the several interpreting and translating activities associated with an event.

Reference files

Reference files can be added when a work order is created, or to an already created job. These files used to be located in a separate tab on the job page, and they have been now to the main job page for improved visibility.

Client files

Client files are files that can be associated with any of your clients, and they will be offered as reference files on the main page of every job created on behalf of that client. A category (glossary, reference, style, TM or other) can be associated with each file.

Improved communication features

New interaction and messaging features

It is now possible for a company to decide if the service providers sharing a job will be able to see each other and interact among themselves. Also, managers can post in any job messages addressed to a particular provider in the job, or to all providers in the job, or only to other administrators. Administrators can also view all comments or only the comments visible by any given translator in the job.

New options for sending emails to providers

The list of providers that can be reached by selecting “Providers → View providers” has several search criteria for defining a subset of translators, and at the bottom of the page there are buttons for sending emails to the translators in the whole search (in particular, to all translators in your system) or only to those in the page in front of you. It is now possible to attach a file to these mails, and to select the particular translators you want to reach within the selection.

 Improved vendor management features

Simplified experience for providers

The translation center as seen by service providers was greatly simplified, eliminating all elements that were not needed for their role of accepting an assignment, getting information and delivering their service. This will facilitate adding extra features and information and move into mobile operation.

You can now leave feedback on providers

Two new job settings will make it possible for your PMs to leave feedback on the providers in your system for each delivered task. You can also decide if this information will be visible only for your administrators, or to share it also with the providers. Posted feedback can range from unacceptable to excellent, and a comment can be also entered. This information is stored for each translator, and it is a very useful tool for documenting the experience a company has with a given translator, especially in multi-PM companies. You can read more about this feature in a dedicated article.

Multiple language pairs in invitations to providers

If you invite translators to the translation center by email, using the options available at “Providers → Invite via email”, you can now select several language pairs associated with each translator. If you prefer to use the directory features to be found at “Providers → Invite from ProZ.com”, once you select the translators to invite the system will offer you for each provider the language pairs they declare at their ProZ.com profile, and you will be able to select one, some or all the language pairs offered. In both cases, the provider profiles at the translation center will be created with the language pairs selected by you.


If you are a ProZ.com Business member, or consider becoming one, and want to learn more about the translation center powered by ProZ.com, please contact me via email or submit a support request.