неделя, 24 февруари 2008 г.

Tools: Transliterators

Cyrillic and Greek characters can still be a great pain despite this "Unicode revolution".
If you need to transliterate Cyrillic to Latin alphabet or vice versa the best solution is:
This site is doing miracles - words are useless here, just go and check it out.

The following site is not a tool for automatic transliteration but it can provide the official (i.e. used by the government) transliteration of a Bulgarian personal name, a name of a city etc. :
Greek is a bit more difficult story.
For Greek to "Greeklish", go to http://www.translatum.gr/converter/greeklish-converter.htm.
For "Greeklish" to Greek, go to http://speech.ilsp.gr/greeklish/greeklishdemo.asp. This is a demo but if you really need it, the software is at a reasonable price.

Tools: Big Files

Two alternatives here that I recommend:
http://www.yousendit.com/ - it's presentable and convenient. I tried the Outlook plug-in but one day it just bugged and I couldn't repair it no matter what.
http://tranz.it/ - this is a Bulgarian site and unfortunately for the international audience, its interface is only in Bulgarian language. The good things about it are much more than for yousendit though: It doesn't require registration and limitations are almost impossible to surpass.

Tools: Counting

I've tried various programs for counting but they became entirely obsolete after I started using TO3000. How does exactly TO3000 help with counting?
It has two tools integrated (they are offered also as separate products if you don't think you need an accounting program):
AnyCount: I personally use it for counting files that won't be needing translation memory - such as .xls, .pdf files etc. It's better than Word's function for counting, for example, because it counts even what is inside textboxes.
CatCount: I use this for everything that passes through my translation memory. I apply the rates for 100%, 99-95%, etc. matches, I enter the .csv file created after running the Analyze function and there it is: my weighted count.

Tools: Glossaries

I have thousands of them: either downloaded or my own. Google Desktop was helpful for reference checks in my glossaries up to a point but what if I wanted to make it really quick, or to share them with someone? I bought AnyLexic together with Translation Office 3000 and I've used it ever since for organizing glossaries. What else can I say? It supports my three alphabets so I am happy.

Tools: Invoicing

I work as a registered freelancer according to Bulgarian law (свободна професия/ελεύθερος επαγγελματίας) and I make my own invoices - I need to use the services of an accountant only for boring procedures and year closing. The invoicing as a freelancer is quite an interesting subject and it deserves its own posting. Here I'll discuss only the "technical" part.

First I tried using a free software for invoicing but every single one that I tried produced either really ugly invoices, or needed so much fine tuning to its "ready-to-go" functionality that I decided not to bother and to start making my invoices in Word in the form that I liked best (and needed to) . So the procedure was like that: I was listing the translation jobs in an Excel sheet - volume, rate, total amount, delivery date. Two or three times a month I had to make an invoice as per an agreement with the customers. I needed at least one hour for each invoice because I had to find the jobs that the customer was ready to pay, to sum them up, check the sum and then transfer it to a new Word document. Plus - just to make sure I had to stop and check what was the previous invoice number. And then when I had to send the list of invoices to my accountant I had to make the list again manually. Nightmare. I was really hating it and then I found the solution.

Translation Office 3000 was a love at first sight. Within one day I migrated all the year's invoices there. And suddenly I was able to see what amounts were outstanding, how much I had earned for the last three months and so on... But this was not even the beginning. This tool has a very efficient and stable system for entering the translation projects and jobs. It even has integrated tools for counting so now this is only a matter of a couple of clicks. It has a lot of ready-to-print reports, so now when clients ask me for estimates or reports I don't lose half a day but only 5 to 10 minutes.

And last but not least: the program creates automatically folders for the new projects and in this way I can save the files as "Incoming", "Outgoing", "Work". Needless to say before TO3000 my folders were a mess and I could remember which was a "working" and which was a "final" file only on the day of delivery.

Tools: Searching

I work on an IBM-compatible, Windows XP computer and I had enormous troubles with searching for documents. I'm sure most of you know the story: "I'm sure I already translated a document on this subject - say a Software License Agreement - but I can remember neither the name of the file, nor where I put the final version." Window's search assistant wasn't of much help because it almost always managed to stop "responding" before finding a word/phrase that I was searching among .doc files. That's when I discovered Google Desktop(tm).

The good things about this tool: I can find any word that I am not sure about by pressing two times the Ctrl button on my keyboard and then see whatever I am looking for by filtering my mail, web history, or of course the files on my hard disk. I also work with three different alphabets (Cyrillic, Greek and Latin) and I never had to switch regional settings or to see *&%&%&^(%^% if I need to switch between keyboards. The bad things: it takes quite a lot of space (about 1GB on my 80 GB hard disk) and it's a bit tricky to uninstall. So please read everything about its features and make completely sure that you need and want to install this tool before actually doing so.

Translation Tools: Introduction

When almost two years ago I decided to start working as a freelance translator, I couldn't even imagine that things were to require so much organization.

I work on a constant basis with only a couple of customers but they keep me busy almost all the time. They have appointed me as their basic translator on a number of products (software interface, user manuals etc.) so I need to keep everything that I translate as future reference. Moreover, I need to keep it so well organized that it doesn't take me too much time, otherwise the "exercise" would be useless. Here are a couple of difficulties that I had to find solutions for:

I. Searching
II. Invoicing
III. Glossaries
IV. Counting
V. Big Files
VI. Transliterators

събота, 23 февруари 2008 г.

Online Dictionaries

I know that there are hundreds of thousands of dictionaries out there and
yet I'd like to share my favorite ones:

This is the best dictionary available for Bulgarian and Greek. It works both ways and it also provides a very good language database for Bulgarian -English. I use it quite often as monolingual dictionary for Bulgarian and I even have the downloadable version in case I have Internet problems but these are rare. If anyone considers using the downloadable version, I'd advise you to buy the full one as the free version for download is missing a lot of the online/paid functionality.

BG Office Assistant (БГ Офис помощник)
This free online dictionary is created by the Bulgarian team working on OpenOffice and the language applications associated with it. It's definitely one of my favorites as it combines 4 dictionaries: a general, a technical dictionary, a dictionary of the newest IT terms and a dictionary of... a north Bulgarian dialect.
The really valuable thing about it is the technical dictionary which is not as concise as the paper technical dictionaries sold on the Bulgarian market but thanks to its search function it is the only Bulgarian-to-English technical dictionary which this full.

Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary
There's not much to comment about this dictionary except that it is an absolute must for everyone who studies English as a foreign languages.
It's priceless for enlightening the bedazzled foreigners who can pass CPE for example but are never sure about these new words and phrases springing up every day in the English language. This dictionary is maybe the best dictionary I ever set my eyes on and I've made sure that I always have its printed version on my bookshelf.

Τριανταφυλλίδης On-Line
One of the two most respected monolingual Greek dictionaries. It was originally created by Manolis Triandafillidis who was one of the people that helped establishing the demotic Greek as today's official language. Today the dictionary is updated by the Institute of Modern Greek Studies (Manolis Triandaphyllidis Foundation) of the Aristotle Univestity of Thessaloniki. The online version has all the functionality of the printed edition and even more and this is thanks to the Institute of Modern Greek Studies. The other most respected monolingual Greek dictionary is neither online, nor freely available so I won't bother presenting it.

English-Greek Dictionary at in.gr
It's the only one bidirectional dictionary worth mentioning in this category. It's certainly better than the printed dictionaries of Oxford and Collins, so I wholeheartedly recommend it.

Webster’s Online Dictionary with Multilingual Thesaurus Translation
As you can see from the picture on the left, this dictionary provides a lot of "modern translations" to an English word. It's one of the thousands enormous dictionaries that have it all but this one is better organized, its translations have always been correct PLUS it also offers Dream Interpretation :)
(just FYI: if you see dictionaries in your dream, it would most probably mean: "To dream that you are referring to a dictionary, signifies you will depend too much upon the opinion and suggestions of others for the clear management of your own affairs, which could be done with proper dispatch if your own will was given play." Or maybe: you've done a bit too much translation the previous day:)

This is a Russian dictionary that basically has all the definitions (I mean really all) in every possible language sphere. I use it from time to time for really puzzling words that are so new that they are very far from having and established analogy in Bulgarian.

I also use a number of other online dictionaries but these are either ugly or not stable. This is why you can count on my saying that this list won't be updated unless something truly remarkable springs up.


In general:
This blog is intended as a place for sharing experience, knowledge and interesting facts about translation and all the associated activities that are part of every translator's work, life and thoughts.
In particular:
It aims to present in detail the materials published at http://www.metafrasi.org/ and also to enable interaction and feedback from the readers.

The focus will be mainly on Bulgarian, Greek and English so expect to see here lots of articles, glossaries and discussions in and about these languages.
First to appear on these pages within the next days will be:
- a review of the free online dictionaries
- a presentation and comments on the main Bulgarian, Greek and International translation portals
- presentation of the glossaries published at http://www.metafrasi.org/
These are only a few of the upcoming discussions. Other topics will refer to the profession of the translator: technologies, financials, good practices, localization etc.
Everyone who feels interested and would like to participate in the creation of this blog is welcome to join.