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Wordfast – a translating system – first steps

Seeing as I’m becoming more and more involved in the translation of things like technical due diligence reports and other quite repetitive reports, I’ve invested in a Word add on known as Wordfast. You can discover more by clicking on the link.

What is this thing? Well, it’s known in the trade as a ‘translation memory’ application. Basically what it does is remember things you have translated and then proposes an exact or approximate translation of a sentence or ‘segment’, as the jargon goes.

I’ve yet to put this system to the test, but I have been going about the rather laborious task of creating translation memories from translations I have already done. Then, when someone rings me up and says ‘Can you do this by…..?’, I shall reply ‘yes’, and get down to work.

Why use one of these systems? Simple, it can speed up translating work appreciably. And it ensures that translations are more consistent, plus it means that I do not have to go hunting around for some expression or other that will not spring to mind. A great time saver in itself.

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Wordfast is a wee bit fiddly to get the hang of, but the more you use it, the easier it becomes. And building translation memories allows me to become more familiar with how the system works. Although I’ve yet to become proficient with it.

I’ve also been creating a few glossaries, which I can then print off, send off, etc and distribute while I’m teaching. Although I’m not sure how many people really use my glossaries. The paper versions are OK, but finding stuff can be very slow. However, put a glossary in a .pdf file or even a Word document and by using the ‘find’ functions you can search quite painlessly for the right expression or word. .pdf files are a little safer, as you cannot accidentally overwrite something or delete it, which could be something of a problem with a Word file. You know, the phone rings and two seconds later you have deleted something you should not have. ‘Undo’ may save you, as long as you are aware that you have mucked something up. With .pdf files this cannot happen.

Of course, putting glossaries on the web is one of the best ways of ensuring that all and sundry can access them. So I may have a go at putting some on the new site I’ve been building.

The only trouble is that producing these glossaries is fairly dull, and slow, work. Something for those semi-idle moments when you can’t be bothered to use your brain, I would say.

I also reckon that Wordfast or a variation may well be useful, not only for translators, but for businesses working in an international environment, especially those working with technical expressions, like lawyers, architects and engineers. However, I’m not too sure how such a system could be adapted to work efficiently. If I come up with an angle, I may post here, but if anyone out there on the WWW, especially those from Wordfast, can think of how to do this, then I believe that there may be one heck of a, growing, market for it.

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