Friday, December 24, 2010

Ho-ho-ho! Merry Xmas & a better New Year!

I wish you a Merry Christmas

I wish you a Merry Christmas

I wish you a Merry Christmas

And a Happy New Year

Sunday, December 5, 2010

My Premier as a Conference speaker

Hello everybody!

First of all, apologies for not having updated my blog for such a long time. Back in September, I learnt that a Conference about Localisation and Videogames Accessibility was meant to be held in Barcelona, on the 2nd and 3rd of December. I thought it would be very interesting to take part in it, as I haven’t been in any conferences about translation since I left University (during my University years I went to a few Jornades de Traducció –Translation Conferences- which happen every year). But during one of those days of transitory insanity, where Pablo Muñoz and Ana Ramírez didn’t stop bugging me to present a paper as speaker, I realised that, well, some day, had to be the first time, and I decided to prepare a paper. I contacted the organisers, who also insisted on me going there to participate as a speaker, as they wanted to hear what I had to say about the localisation industry... And I couldn’t resist to so much imploring (well, well, it wasn’t really imploring, ¡but it sounds so good! ^_^).

I had about a week to prepare an summary explaining what I wanted to say. But... ¿what do I wanted to say? ¡I had no idea! Ok, both P

ablo and Ana were telling me that I had to go, but they didn’t specify what they wanted to know from me J Well, at least, that was my excuse. I imagine that, my subconscious, had another excuse, the excuse translators and writers constantly find: Fear to the «White page». It was hard to overcome that fear, but I managed to overcome it, wrote the abstract and sent it. I had a few weeks to prepare my paper. Well, it’s still a long time, isn’t it? Especially, because I didn’t have much work to do.

But, amigos, you can’t imagine how annoying Mr. Murphy can be. He is like a hyena, always lying in wait for some distraction, or for someone wishing something, to intervene and pester. And that is what happened. I was sooo happy with my spare time and the opportunity to be able to prepare properly my paper… And, BANG! Agencies started sending me work, new people contacted me to offer work... Of course, for obvious reasons, I couldn’t say no to that (who knows when I will have work again?) :)

Thanks goodness, as my best university friend Núria says, sometimes «luck» comes when you less expect it (more than luck, I needed time). I spent a month without any rest. I overcame a tonsil infection and two colds, but I tackled it head on :) I started putting on paper everything I had in my head, everything I wanted to shout at the World about, and what I think of the Localisation industry, and I didn’t stop until I finished it. And I felt great, man! I think I felt as good as if I have had a baby… But without the pain bit.

I managed to create a decent Power Point (isn’t it?) on time to the presentation, even though I haven’t used a Power Point program since 2003, and even though the trip was stressful and I hadn’t properly rested for about a week, and also my voice started to sound more to that of a truck’s driver, I managed to pass the task!

But is not that simple. I managed it, yes, but I got so excited while I was talking that, half way through my presentation, I was told that I had only 3 minutes left, of the 20 minutes allotted to each speaker. I confess that I added a few things that I didn’t prepare, and probably that is the reason why it was a bit longer than expected, but hey, that is what happens when you have a public that stares at you with open eyes and absorbing brains, trying to get as much information as possible: one feels bigger and can’t help it but share all her experiences with her audience. I think it took me about 10 more minutes to finish (sorry!), but it turned out quite good, and it seems the audience liked it. And, well, I also felt great by being able to deliver such a good speak in such a short period of time. But that wasn’t all. It seems I said some things that surprised some people for bad, and others, for good. But you all know I am just like that: I first speak, then think. I was probably the one who dare to say what everybody were thinking but didn’t dare to say. Yes, that is me, Curri Barceló. For everything else, Mastercard :)

I also loved to hear other points of view, learn new things (as the issues color-blind people have when playing videogames... Yes, I had never thought about that!) and, well, discover that more people than what I knew know me ;) (my favourite sentence of the people attending to the Conference was: "Oh, you are Curri! Finally!»… I could't believe it! But... «I luv it». Thanks to all for making me so happy.

Oh, yeah, ladies and gentleman, I have loved the experience so much that I want to repeat it. What the heck have I done in the last 6 years? I have missed so many «translation» parties! I could have written so many articles and, well, who knows, even a book. From now on, get ready, because Curri is back for good. I hope you like «Curri» (it’s a pun), because you will enjoy me for a long time ^_^

Thank you for reading.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Machine translation + Post-editing... Really?

I was going to start blogging by talking about how to start, how to create a CV and a cover letter, etc., but this morning I received one of those LinkedIn e-mails, in which there was an alert about a new post in a forum about translation: Machine translation and human post-editing.
I felt it could be interesting to see what that person wanted to say about machine translation, but my surprise was to find another of those people who think machines may substitute translators in the future, and that giving the translator a machine translation to post-edit actually helps the translator and, therefore, that should be pay with lower rates. I really couldn't leave it there, so I had to reply to that article. Here I will copy what I said in that forum, what do I think about automated/machine translation, and why me and other translators feel beaten up every time we read one of those articles.

And it really scared me that SDL allows something like that to be published, because it might mean that they actually practise that type of translation. I just hope I am wrong.

And this is what I posted in the LinkedIn group where this article was posted:

"I am sorry to disagree, Adriana, but I feel automated translation is an utterly useless tool. I agree with Elena that it seems we are the baddies in this movie, because we just want to do our job, which is delivering quality translations. Machine translations ARE a re-translation, because, at the end of the day, you still have to read the original text and see how close to the machine-translated text is. And believe me, I have done a few of those, and I would be quicker by just translating the text from scratch.

You say that machine translators are made, apart from the "money saving" reason, because there is no time to do proper translations. Well, it takes me the same time to translate a text from zero than reading the crap machine translation, read then the English text and think of which part of the machine-translated text do I need to change. 98% of the times is everything.

It's like when someone asks you: "What does this word mean in your language?" and then they tell you: "Is this X?" And from that point on, you cannot thing. That person has put a word in your mind, and you brain can only think about that word, even though you know is the wrong one. That is the feeling I have sometimes with automated translations.

I am not going to say that they are useless. I use them when they give me a bad English text to translate, which I cannot understand, and then they also give me the French. Being French closer to Spanish, I do an automated translation from French into Spanish to see if, this way, I can understand better what the English says. I do not speak French and I have never learnt French at school. I can tell you, sometimes it gives me an idea, but the result is nowhere near a proper translation, so I always do like a mixture between the translation I understand from the English and what that French translation has given me. Other times, it just confuses me even more, and I end up asking the client to please explain me what they mean with that specific sentence and to make sure the English text makes total sense.

Finally, I am going to give you an easy example.

It's Sunday and your toilet breaks. You don't want to pay the expensive rates of a plumber, so you decide that you can fix it yourself, because "it can't be too difficult". You dismantle the whole system and try to see where the problem is and, after one hour, you decide that you can't fix it. You assemble everything again, as good as you can, because you aren't an expert in plumbing and decide to call the plumber. But you tell him that, because you have already tried to fix the problem, you are going to pay him only a third of the fee, and no Sunday fee at all but a normal weekday fee.

What do you think the plumber will say?

Same will happen with any professional. Do you think a lawyer will reduce the fees he charges you just because you have done half of the research he needed? NO. Is a chemist/Pharmacist giving you a discount if you tell them that you don't need the paper wrapping the medicines or the bag they offer you? NO. Will a restaurant manager give you a discount if you grab the pizza from the over yourself? Probably no (maybe he invites you to an extra glass of wine, but I doubt he will allow you to leave the restaurant paying 1/3 of the bill only). Or imagine something even more puzzling: you need an open-heart surgery and the only clinic that provides that service is a private clinic so, in order to save you some cash, you tell the anesthetist that you will put yourself the anesthetist, and you ask the nurses to leave the premises, because your brother and sister will help out the surgeon. What do you think it would happen?

So, what makes anybody think that translators should be different?

I suppose the case that you expose, in which a company decides to use the MT they have to create a new translation will work in a 2-5% of the cases? I can only think that it can work if you have an MT of a manual of a, let's say, a camera, and they have created a new camera that has only a few updates and the manual is practically the same. Then, yes, this could work. But wouldn't make more sense to just give the translator the MT and ask him to charge the 100% matches at a reduce rate? At the end of the day, maybe the previous translator had a few mistakes in the translation, and the new translator decides that some words need to be changed."

I think machine translations are too little too frequent and are destroying the industry all together. One thing is to use them to just have an idea of what a text reads, but using it as if it was a translation made by a person to then give it to a translator to edit, I think is unfair for us, as professionals, and also an insult to our job and our industry altogether.

Feel free to post a comment with your thought about this.

Thanks for reading.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Blog under construction

I am getting ready for my leap into the glamorous world of renowned translators. I will share my ideas, frustrations and tips about videogame and software localisation, as well as how to stop the quality assurance (also known as testing) from driving you crazy.
Please, bear with me :)