27 January 2015

Udemy MOOCs

My morning glance at Australia's "The Age" led to an article headed
This teacher earned $50k in two months
including the following:
The average instructor earns $US10,000 teaching on Udemy, and the top 10 instructors have earned more than $US10 million ...
Under the Udemy business model, instructors keep 100% of the revenue when they bring the students to the course. When the platform brings in a student, instructors earn 50% while Udemy takes the rest.
​From there I went to the Udemy site​ and looked up 'translation'.
First off the rank would appear to be EN-ES financial translator Marcel Solé.

Colleagues looking to add a new branch to their business -- and more particularly those who already have course materials on hand should perhaps consider the Udemy platform. The model sounds promising.

24 January 2015

Conference report, TEnT update, Lisbon

(See also Kevin Lossner's post on Translation Tribulations.)

This is a short report on a one-day conference held in Lisbon on 22 January for translators and translation students. Details were posted on Kevin Lossner's Translation Tribulations. The event attracted a peak audience of around 50 including familiar faces from the Lisbon translation scene and a good mix of young and old. More importantly, the presenters included two big names and from the European TEnT community while the audience included several power users resulting in interesting exchanges and announcements.

Although I am not a TEnT (translation environment tool) user, I was pleased to update my understanding of what they offer. Some of the highlights listed below may be more indicative of my ignorance than anything else.


  • Demonstrations of voice recognition in Portuguese on a Mac running Yosemite (OS 10.10), Parallels Desktop, Windows 8.1 and a range of software with some running on Yosemite and other on Windows simultaneously, transparently and seamlessly. Impressive platform for anyone needing that combination of resouces, provided they have the budget. (This is currently the only dictation solution available for Portuguese but Windows 10 may include Portuguese in its new voice recognition suite.)
  • Both SDL Trados Studio 2014 and memoQ 2014 R2 appear to be good releases. Customer requirements and personal preferences appear to be the main criteria. Both can input and output in all standard formats, including handoff packages in the competitor's format with few shortcomings.
  • Kevin Lossner recommends that power TEnT users use just one suite for translation proper as the ramp-up to peak productivity is long. He further recommends that those with special file manipulation and conversion needs demanding access to multiple TEnTs, should stick to just one for translation proper.
  • For peak productivity [... if that's what you're into ...] a 'mixed mode' combining power use of a TEnT and voice recognition for dictation of passages that would otherwise take longer to keyboard [yet another tool to purchase, to master and keep working...] with a constant eye to the optimal use of dictation, keyboard, mouse, etc., etc.
  • Paul Filkin of SDL Language Solutions, who blogs on SDL Trados Studio 2014 at Multifarious, gave an excellent presentation and clinic. Paul focused on the fact that thanks to SDL's OpenExchangeStudio is the only extensible tool on the market (i.e. extensible by both users and the SDL development team) even if, surprisingly, this feature is still underused.
  • On MultifariousPaul's detailed analysis and discussion of word counts: Excellent!
  • Tool (free online) for pdf to XLIFF conversion (currently in beta, but expected to be available to the public soon): Infix.
    [Wikipedia article on XLIFF, the XML Localisation Interchange File Format.]
  • Pdf format: Wherever possible always attempt to obtain the source file and translate from that. All pdf conversion tools should be considered as last resorts.
  • Tools for TEnT users: CodeZapper and Translator's toolkit.
  • Window's .exe files: right-click/run is different from and also safer and better than just double-clicking on an exe file as the Window's administrator!
  • Word .docx format is actually a zip folder! To access Excel, Powerpoint and other components of a Word .docx file, change extension to .zip, unpack, translate, re-zip, then change extension back to .docx. Test, then deliver. Amazing!
  • .doc > .zip workflows: see posts in Translation Tribulations. KL recommends using Windows Explorer to open zip archives as many zip tools can mess up the compression.
  • SDL's MultiTerm is being throughly debugged and rebuilt. Sounds promising!
  • Gerhard Kordmann's MultiTerm Glossary Converter (from SDL's Open Exchange, works within SDL Trados Studio 2014) offers useful conversion capabilities.
  • TenT handoff packages are .zip folders. To access components, change extension to .zip, then unpack.
  • TaaS (Terminology as a Service) project is attracting attention. Tilde TaaS-powered search engine.
  • Anyone and everyone interested in the above should also subscribe to Jost Zetzsche's Tool Box Journal, basic subscription is free, and consider purchasing his exhaustive The Translator's Tool Box: A Computer Primer for Translators Version 11.

Some personal observations

  • Today, translators in many market segments need to master their target language, one or more source language(s), one or more areas of specialisation and one or more TEnTs while keeping tracking of issues such as those listed above. To say that they have their work cut out is a big understatement.
  • I spoke to two young translators and one agency owner. All agreed that the challenges just listed leave significantly less room for the pure intellectual buzz that translators of older generations experienced when younger and throughout much of their careers.
  • Re SDL Trados Studio 2014 and memoQ 2014 R2: One does some things better than the other, but the opposite is also true. Both have strong followings. Both have to keep improving just about everything including their compatibility with each other.
  • Very pleasing to see that, at least in public at this event, representatives of both SDL and memoQ fully recognised the strengths and weaknesses of each other's products. Most interesting and greatly appreciated, I suspect, by other neutral attendees.
  • The fact that the event was sponsored by the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences of Lisbon's Universidade Nova undoubtedly contributed to the congenial atmosphere and sharing of concepts between rivals. The venue provided neutral ground, thereby allowing participants to focus on real value rather than marketing pitches. Special thanks consequently to the organisers, not least David Hardisty who has taught translation tools to undergraduate and postgraduate students since the inception of FCSH/UNL's Translation Programmes.

23 January 2015

à Beckett on how gender works in French

Australian academic Margaret à Beckett has published a book entitled Gender assignment and word-final pronunciation in French: Two classification systems explaining her theory of gender assignment.

In an article entitled French gender: It’s not (all) about sex in the 11 April 2015 issue of Inside Story, or IS, a blog offering current affairs & culture from Australia and beyond, à Beckett summarises her radical new explanation of how gender works in French.

Margaret à Beckett is an Adjunct Research Fellow at Monash University. Gender assignment and word-final pronunciation in French: Two classification systems is published by Lincom GmbH.

20 January 2015

Change your words...

Change your WORDS, Change your WORLD...
Online content specialists PurpleFeather have posted a powerful and persuasive video titled The Power of Words. Highly recommended.

USN designates modified LCS as a frigate

IHS Jane's 360 posted the story under the heading Surface Navy 2015: USN designates modified LCS as a frigateMilitary.com under Navy Changes New LCS Name to Frigate and National Defense magazine's blog under Surface Navy 2015 USN designates modified LCS as a frigate.

Military authorities often change the official designations of systems and keeping up with such changes is part of the job for technical journalists and technical journalism translators among others. On this occasion, the media gave us a little more background information.

National Defense magazine's blog had this to say:
First, they were called small surface combatants, then the modified littoral combat ships. But now, the more lethal, final 20 LCSs will simply be known as frigates, the secretary of the Navy announced Jan.  15.
The new hull designation of “FF” will apply to all littoral combat ships that are modified with more advanced weapons, sensors and combat systems, including retrofitted vessels, said Ray Mabus during a speech at the Surface Navy Association national symposium in Arlington, Virginia.
“It’s going to be the same ship, same program of record, just with an appropriate and traditional name,” he said.
LCS isn’t the only ship that will be renamed. Vessels with unwieldy designations such as the Afloat Forward Staging Base, Mobile Landing Platform and Joint High Speed Vessel will also be rebranded in the coming weeks with ones that better reflect Navy traditions, he said.
“We started naming shapes with some interesting acronyms that seem to have come out of the Pentagon instead of our naval tradition,” Mabus said.  The littoral combat ship is not an L-class amphibious ship. “I hear ‘L’, I think amphib. Everybody else does. I hear littoral, and I have to tell you, I spend a good amount of my time explaining what littoral is.”

19 January 2015

Lucy's latest on corporate comms

This post returns to the question: Why is such a high proportion of C-suite writing so obtuse?

As on past occasions, I'm posting because FT columnist Lucy Kellaway has again come up with insights that help answer the question in at least some instances.

Lucy's column of 18 January is entitled How insecurity and preening kill corporate common sense.

Some quotes that apply as much to C-suite writing as they do to the others made by Lucy (my bold):
Try understanding any bank’s annual report. It cannot be done. Even the senior bankers who put the figures together admit as much.

The reason common sense is squashed in this way is insecurity. Most people in business live in fear of being found out, and sounding clever seems a safer bet than being understood.
... a senior manager at Amazon ... explained the secret to his hiring success: “Your bar raiser should also run the debrief after every hiring loop.”
The next enemy of common sense is self-importance ... Last week Jamie Dimon solemnly told Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business: “JPMorgan is the best thing I can do for country and humanity” ...

... HR and PR routinely eliminate any lurking pools of rationality...

02 January 2015

A tool to improve time-based billing of language services

In the 30 December 2014 issue of the Financial Times' Innovation(s) to Watch column includes an article entitled Apperio: real time scrutiny of legal fees by Sally Davies.
Apperio features a dashboard that allows clients to invite law firms to bid for legal work, then monitor their performance as they beaver away. Clients can set alerts for when price thresholds are reached, and compare firms’ ability to stick to budgets against their rivals.
I wonder if the people at Apperio have thought about applying the concept to high-end language services like copywriting and transcreation.

NavTechGloss: client satisfait

La publi-info postée par Mer et Marine le 15 mai donne une indication du niveau de satisfaction du client. Voir  18ème édition du Lexique f...