21 June 2019

Switching to Mac, take #1

The Macintosh computer first came out, with a memory capacity of 128K, in 1984. I purchased my first Mac, with 512K of memory and a pinwheel-drive matrix printer, in 1985 or 86. It was powered by a large and heavy uninterruptible powersupply, or UPS, containing an iron-core transformer. In 1989 I purchased a more powerful SE30 with a 10M external hard disk and a portrait-style A4 screen. Each item represented a significant investment. Indeed the first two were made with the aid of bank loans. To protect my investment, the hardware was covered by insurance policies for theft, breakage and lightning damage, my house and office being in a rural area.

Earlier this month, after my new Asus laptop died just six months after the guarantee had expired and some serious frustration with Microsoft Windows 10 and Office 365, I decided to switch back to Mac, specifically a MacBook Pro. Fearing that it would take some time to bring my keyboard reflexes up to speed and more still to become familiar with all the new software, I would not have given the switch a moment's thought had I been working full time. But, being mostly retired, I saw the transition as a challenge.

I have now been playing around with my MacBook Pro and LibreOffice Writer for two weeks. I'm making reasonable progress but my keyboard reflexes and software skills still leave a lot to be desired. Amazingly, I have yet to work out how to select text then extend the selection one word at a time using the keyboard rather than the mouse or touchpad in Writer, Mail, or any of the other apps I use.

I suspected before making the switch that dtSearch does not work on Mac, nor anything like it and that the same is true of IWS. For further details, see dtSearch + IntelliWebSearch, take #2. In a private emails, David Thede, the author of dtSearch (hence the 'dt' in the name), and Michael Farrell, the author of IWS, confirmed that their products are not compatible with Mac, that no Mac versions and planned, and, worst news of all, that they knew of no comparable products that run under the MacOS.

Has my use of dtSearch and IWS won more admirers, others might have joined me in the quest for the best alternatives on Mac.

So far, I have found only HoudahSpot for harddisk-wide searches, but so far it appears to be a very poor second to dtSearch. To make better use of the keyboard and shortcuts, I am exploring  PhraseExpress and Keyboard maestro.

* Finally found out how to select or deselect the next word. Amazed that this was so difficult to find.
** The command I'm now looking for is how to get the cursor to return to where it was before moving it to somewhere else to, say, select some text.

dtSearch + IntelliWebSearch, take #2

Back in November 2011 I posted on this blog -- then in its third month -- under the heading Term mining pioneer. This post quoted a case study posted on the dtSearch website entitled
dtSearch Case Study — SDC

SDC Arms Itself with dtSearch for its Translation Services for European Naval Defense and Other Industries 

On 12 June 2015 I posted here under the heading dtSearch + IntelliWebSearch. This was followed, on 9 October 2015, by Glossarismo, dtSearch, IntelliWebSearch and more and, on 6 July 2016, by dtSearch + IntelliWebSearch, latest.

If memory serves, I first purchased dtSearch in 1998 and began using IWS in 2015. Between then and a couple of weeks ago when I decided to switch to a Macintosh computer, I considered myself a power user of the combination. Despite my posts here, talks at translators' conferences and one-on-one discussions with many colleagues, very few have followed my lead. One reason is that some of my most esteemed colleagues have always worked on Macs. A second, more important reason, is that I began using these tools for my particular kind of work when many others were beginning to use translation environment tools, or TenTs (aka translation memory applications).

I have never been tempted to invest much time in TenTs for three reasons:
  1. the repetition rates in my field of work are so extraordinarily low that the arguments concerning matches and fuzzy matches seem irrelevant
  2. the other supposed benefits have never seemed cost-effective to me relative to the amount of time people like me (i.e. slow to adapt to new software) have to invest in learning how to fully exploit them
  3. I have always found that dtSearch + IWS meet my particular needs very well indeed while allowing me to work with the one application that I know really well, namely Microsoft Word.

That said, I have added one trick to my armoury. After delivering a translation, I always generate and file bitext of the original French and my English adaptation. After producing these for many years using Terminotix's LogiTerm, I have switched more recently to using Terminotix's online tool know as YouAlign powered by AlignFactory. I then access my bitext files using dtSearch + IWS. Among the many search options offered by dtSearch, I find myself making intense use truncation (searchwordroot*), searchwordA within N words of searchwordB (searchwordA w/N searchwordB) and fuzzy search.

For a detailed article on this approach, see Transcreation, examples from an online newsletter, #1.







21 March 2019

Full circle

After completing a BSc in physics and maths in Australia and extended travels in Africa I found a job in Paris that left me with considerable free time. I began to buzz with the thrill of total immersion in French and the speed at which I gained fluency. Months later I began a sort of apprenticeship in the art of technical translation with a chap named Werner Kowarsch. Later still, I set up in Paris as a freelance French-to-English translator.

The BSc quickly proved useful as most translators in Paris in those days had degrees in literature and languages and very little knowledge of matters more scientific or technical.

I met French engineers who had tried unsuccessfully to work with translators from purely literary backgrounds who were no match for their technical documents. They greatly appreciated my understanding of their subject matter and terminology while, unbeknown to them, I was busy working hard on my French, my written English and my technical writing skills.

A chance encounter in the mid-1970s with an engineer who worked at CNES, the still young French space agency, led to a friendship and many years of work. Claude Gourdet had just been appointed to lead Prospace, CNES's first initiative to promote the country's budding space industry, and promotion naturally meant producing documents in English.

This enabled me to move from Paris to a rural setting in south-west France within striking distance of Toulouse – where the Toulouse Space Centre, or CST, was expanding rapidly. I worked from home, received most jobs by overnight mail from Paris or Toulouse and delivered them in the same way. I owed a great deal to Claude and to the efficiency and reliability (How things have changed!) of La Poste, the French postal service.

Among my many contacts at the CST was a Monsieur Saint-Etienne with whom I got on very well indeed. One of M Saint-Etienne's responsibilities was to produce CNES's first bilingual thesaurus on spacecraft. He was also the agency's delegate to the International Telecommunications Union, or ITU, where he was involved in drafting standards on space telecommunications with me providing input in English. This was my first experience in formal terminology, and I found it fascinating.

By the early 1980s I was working less for CNES and more for Spot Image, a spin-off set up to develop and launch Spot remote sensing satellites and to promote and market the resulting imagery. From my earliest apprenticeship with Werner Kowarsch I had learned how to make and organise notes on problem terms and equivalents that needed to be recorded (at first using just pencil and paper) to ensure consistency when other jobs came in on similar subjects. By the eighties, I was working on a Macintosh computer and compiling a lot of terminology.

In 1986 I published the first edition of my French-English glossary on Spot, remote sensing and their applications. Between 1986 and 1999 I published ten editions of this glossary with modest sales success, the last one comprising some 8,000 terms. The production process involved printing my Microsoft Word files on A4 paper, then taking this output to a shop to be photocopied and bound. Distribution was by hand delivery or book post.

A handful of Toulouse-based translators became aware of my glossary, including Marie-Jeanne Jarry, a full-time Russian-French translator and interpreter at the CST until 2013) (LinkedIn page). This led to my appointment as an invitation lecturer for a 20-hour terminology module that was part of the first diploma course in technical translation to be offered at a Toulouse university. My title was chargé de cours, module Terminologie, DESS en Techniques de la Traduction. The course was run by the LEA (langues étrangères appliquées) department at Université de Toulouse-Le Mirail. I gave the course from 1994/95 to 2005/06.

Fast-forward to January 2019. I was in Toulouse for the day and decided to call on Ian Margo who had set up and was still associated with Coup de Puce Expansion, aka CPE*, a Toulouse-based language service provider. In the 1990s, Coup de Puce had won a contract to provide translation services to my former client, the CST. (I held a similar contract for French-to-English translation services in the early 1980s.) I mentioned that I am now semi-retired, but sometimes found myself under-employed and was thus looking for translation or terminology work but wanted to avoid working to tight deadlines or with translation memory tools (aka translation environment tools, or TenTs).

I did well to mention this because it turned out that Coup de Puce has a contract with the CST to add content to and resolve non-conformities in a vast terminology database shared by all its language service suppliers. The database uses a web-based application called Aplikaterm developed by Joliciel Informatique. Ian had to consult his team but felt confident that Coup de Puce would be happy to have me work on the database.

What a great arc these decades of work have cast! After a first encounter with formal space industry terminology at the CST in the late 1970s, the publication of a glossary on a satellite-based remote sensing system, and several years teaching a short course on terminology and terminology management, I now find myself working with Coup de Puce on the CST terminology database. I have challenging work ahead of me and feel – I think it's fair to say – that this aspect of my career has come full circle.

* CPE is an a private company (an SARL under French law) comprising ten partners, all professional translators.

03 January 2019

Lexicon backstory: How ... gave rise to a different type of Fr-En lexicon

The ATA has posted an article I submitted on the Science and Technology Division's blog.
The article, dated 3 January 2019, is entitled A Lexicon Backstory and subtitled How transcreating promotional technical journalism gave rise to a different type of Fr-En lexicon

In it, I explain how my French-English Lexicon of Naval Technology -- which is now freely downloadable -- came into being.

Switching to Mac, take #1

The Macintosh computer first came out, with a memory capacity of 128K, in 1984. I purchased my first Mac, with 512K of memory and a pinwheel...