The Neverending Story of Word Counts

 Do you remember Michael Ende’s book, The Neverending Story? Or, like me, do you remember more the them song by Limahl’s?

Whenever I have to make a quotation for a client and I ask them for the source files, I enter in the fantasy world of word counts, which is full of  fantastic creatures that can make your word count as big as Falkor, the luckdragon, if not prepared correctly.

Our last adventure in the fantasy world of word counts took place quite recently.

We got a quotation request for translation of a website, and we asked the client for the source files. The client exported the website into individual xml files, and we analyzed them to get a word count. We used Trados Studio for that, and we got a word count that was a very nice starting point, but which we knew that was not real: more than 60,000 words.

The file was not prepared correctly for translation, so we had to prepare it ourselves. We needed to create a configuration file that Trados would use to know what is translatable and what is not. If you are a translator, follow these steps to learn how to do it. If you are a client, just skip to the end of the article, and you will be happy to know what the word count will be after all these steps.

When you create the Project in Trados Studio, you will reach a point where you have to select the files to translate. Before doing that, go to the File Types option:

File types

When you click on File Types, you will see a list of all file types supported by Trados Studio. However, as I mentioned, we want to create our own file type, based on the files we are going to translate.

Just click on New and select the desired type. In our example, we are going to select XML.

Select Type

Follow the instructions of the wizard and select if you want to create an XML file based on default settings or based on settings from an existing settings file. In our example, we are going to select the second option, and we will browse to select one of the translation files:

Create File Type

The Parser Rules dialog box will now appear. Here is where we need to select what is translatable and what is not. Just go through the list of rules and double click on each of them in order to select the status from Translatable to Not Translatable.

Parser Rules

Once you are done, your file type will appear in the list of files types.

Project File Type Settings

And when you add the files to translate to the project, they will all appear under the file type you created.

New Project

By doing this, when you analyze the files, your word count will be much real, as it will only take into account those strings that need translation.

In our example, we moved from a word count of more than 60,000 words to around 19,000 words. It is a big difference in our income, but if we had not done it, the client would have not accepted our quotation or he might have paid much too much.

Also, translating segments full of xml code that is not to be touched can be really annoying, so the translators will end up spending more time than expected.

However, even if we have sorted out this problem and managed to provide clients with an accurate word count that matches with what they need to translate, we still need to face another issue: how can we convince clients that they should send the full source files for quotation? Have you managed to get them? Tell us your strategies in the comments!

Related articles:

Why do repetitions have to be included in a text to translate?

  • Don’t touch my source files!
  • When the file to translate is sent “as is”
  • The Localization Project. Part 3: Creating the Source

Meet our team (VI). Ferdinand Sloof, Accountant

In this post, we decided to leave the Translation department for a while and talk to Ferdinand Sloof, the person in charge of the administration. His job is crucial for the day-to-day operations of the company, and it’s a complex task, since he is in charge of the administration of both the Dutch and the Spanish branches.

What is your origin?

I was born in a small village in the province of Utrecht, Kamerik (Holland)

What did you study?

Industrial Economics

Why did you decide to move to Spain?

Ever since I was a teenager and had the opportunity to travel, I just knew that I would live abroad some day. Holland is a lovely country, but the climate makes you live indoors most time of the year, unlike here in Andalucía. That blue sky over her is a gift, and allows me to enjoy life more than I did back in Holland.

What are your main tasks?

Bookkeeping and invoicing. It may sound boring to most of you, but with our business partners located all over the world, I regard my job as quite satisfactory and interesting.   

What are the pros and cons of your job?

Really can´t think of any particular pros and cons. For example, arguing with the Spanish Tax Authorities is not something I enjoy a lot, but it is part of the job I guess.

Working with authorities in both countries, do you see many differences between each of them?

Social Security and Hacienda are two different entities in Spain, in Holland they are united in one entity. Apart from that, there is not much difference, also due to the overall European regulations.

What do you do in your spare time? Any hobbies?

Cycling with my daughter, gardening, hiking, camping, classic vehicles, motorcycle racing.

What do you think are the most difficult challenges Jensen Localization will face in the next years?

Business is extremely tough these days, the profit margins are minimized. We will have to be very alert to new developments in our industry, renewing our skills, keep on working very hard and try to be better than our competitors in the market.

Why is the Testing Phase so Important?

We should better start this post by explaining why companies usually skip the testing phase. To put it simple, our first reply would be simply to save money.

However, after talking to clients we have noticed that it is usually due to ignorance of the testing phase.

The testing phase is an important phase in order to consider a localization project as finished.

Testing is done both in software and websites, and briefly explained, it consists in the comparison of the source and target software/website to make sure that the layout and functionality are the same.

During the testing phase, no translation errors should appear. However, even if the text has been reviewed before compiling the software or building the website, it is during the testing phase when translators can really see the text in context, so some adjustments may still be made to the translation.

Also, when changing from one language to another, the text can expand or can collapse, and this will also affect the layout of the software/website. Clients do not always send us their string limits, so it is not until the testing phase when we can see if the translation actually fits in the space provided.

In the example below you can see typical errors that you can find in a website testing.

Source Website

Source

Target Website. We asked the web developer to enter some errors on purpose. In a web testing project, the comments in red are the ones the translator would enter in the testing bug report.

Testing errors 2

In some cases, clients decide to do the testing phase themselves. However, we advise you not to do that. Just a pair of reasons to support this statement:

  1. In the case of string shortening, a translator knows some kind of ‘default’ string abbreviations that can be used to shorten a string without affecting the meaning. People who are not in the Localization industry tend to shorten strings without any compassion for grammar or spelling to a level that is totally illegible for the target reader.
  2. Translation companies save all translations in a translation memory, which enables them to reuse the translated content to keep consistency between different versions of the same product. If the testing phase is done on the client side, the translation company will not have access to the most updated files. In the event of spelling mistakes or terminology changes, if the translation files have not been updated with such changes after the testing period, the same errors will appear in subsequent versions of the product, which will lead to extra time and costs.

Unless you have your own localization department, where you use the same translation tools as your language service provider, we advise you to leave the testing phase in their hands, so that you can receive a final translated product and make sure everything will be ready to be reused in the future.

I hope this post helped you to learn more about the testing phase. If you need further information, do not hesitate to contact us.

Related posts:

Meet our Team (V). Femke Jepkema, Project Manager

In this interview, we are going to learn more about one of our PMs in the Dutch branch, Femke Jepkema.

Femke JepkemaWhat is your origin, Femke?

I was born in a city in the province of Friesland in the Netherlands. We moved to a small village where I spent most of my youth. After Middle School, I moved to Groningen to study at the University.

What did you study?

I first studied English Language and Culture. After finishing that, I did the follow-up study for becoming an English teacher – the Pre-Higher Education Teaching Certificate in English.

Did you always want to become a PM or did it happen be coincidence?

I always wanted to be a translator. I applied at Jensen Localization for the function of translator, but there was no vacancy at that time. There was a vacancy for PM though, so I applied for that instead and got the job. It has been great working as a PM.

How long have you been working for Jensen Localization?

I have been working for Jensen Localization for 4 years now.

Did you start working for Jensen Localization right after finishing school or did you gain experience from other jobs?

I first worked as a teacher for 1 year after getting my teacher certificate. After that, I started working at Jensen Localization.

What are the pros and cons about being a PM?

The pros are:

  • Variety of different tasks and challenges
  • Problem solving is involved (which I like a lot)
  • Working with people

The cons are:

  • Contact with people (clients and translators) are only by mail and only sometimes by phone (so there is contact but you always have to guess what someone looks like, how they are in person, etc.).
  • Sometimes the job is a bit stressful, as it sometimes gets really busy and you have a lot of projects to schedule and find resources for.

What tasks do you usually do?

  • Downloading/saving the files that we receive from clients for projects
  • Finding suitable and available translators/reviewers for the projects
  • Scheduling the projects in our calendar
  • Receiving deliveries for the day and preparing those to deliver to the clients
  • Communication with clients and translators about projects (scheduling, problem solving, etc.)

What do you do in your spare time? Any hobbies?

I enjoy watching movies (you should see my DVD collection… it’s huge), playing computer games, reading, and drawing/painting.

How many languages do you know?

I know English and Dutch (reading and writing), German a bit (reading and writing), Frisian (only reading), and I am learning to read Danish, Norwegian and Swedish more and more each day (I cannot actually read and understand it fully, but I do recognize and learn new words each day because of my job).

What is the most important element to you when working with new clients?

Making sure that the client gets the best possible quality.

What advice would you give a new PM working in the same business as you?

Get to know the translation tools yourself, as this will help you with problem solving whenever clients, translators, or you yourself run into problems. Also keep your schedule and mailbox orderly, as you need to have a clear overview for yourself of when you have deliveries, and of what still needs to be done, followed up, started, etc.

Being a PM, how important is it to work in teams and communicate with other staff members?

It depends on what kind of projects you manage and how they have been divided amongst all PMs. If you have your own set of accounts and projects, you do not have to have extensive contact with the other PMs. You of course contact them for advice and help, or just for fun, but it is not essential to be in elaborate communication with them. If you share accounts with another PM, you communicate more about who will take care of what.

You always have contact with the IT department and financial department for questions related to those areas.

Do you communicate with the staff from other departments at Jensen Localization?

Yes, we communicate via Skype when we have questions or just want to talk, and sometimes we call when it’s more urgent.

Do you think machine translation will ever replace Jensen Localization services?

No. So far, the machine translation is still at a stage where it is not of good quality. There will have to be a lot of changes for it to ever reach good quality, but still, it can never be as good as a human translation of course. A machine can never detect certain nuances or differences in meaning. As translating is very fun and a source of income for many, I hope machines will never replace it of course.

What types of projects do you prefer working with?

I prefer working on projects that have extensive translation tools and instructions. I particularly like the aspect of solving problems with tools, and as I’m a bit of a perfectionist, I enjoy reading extensive instructions and checking if they have been followed.

This is Femke Jepkema, the one who will always win at Trivial Pursuit if the questions are related to cinema! In our next interview, we will meet one of the guys at Jensen Localization. Yes, there are boys in our team, too :).

Matching Technology and Client Needs

Clients that do not have a translation department but who actually do translations are little by little getting used to all tasks and procedures involved in a translation project.

In many cases, these translations are actually done by native speakers. Some of them may even have done translation studies, but they decided to pursue another path in their career and ended up working as secretaries, content writers, marketing creators or assistants of people playing these roles.

But they end up doing translations. However, they do not have a system to compile and reuse these translations, and every time they have to translate similar texts they have to spend lots of time searching on files here and there.

As translators, we know that this has an easy solution: a Translation Memory.

However, these companies do not have that many documents to translate that justify investing in a translation memory system that costs thousands of Euros, and do not care about the many project management features these tools include. They do not want to pay a translator because they want to do this job themselves. They just want a repository for their translations.

Jensen Localization, after talking to several companies that are experiencing this need, has developed a Controlled TM+MT Environment for small companies (currently the interface is only in Spanish).

Machine Translation at Jensen Localization

What does this mean? Simply put, this means that a client will be able to translate a file using Machine Translation first. Our MT environment is domain-specific, meaning that it only includes texts that are of the client domain, so that the terminology used is the one used by the client, and no texts of the tourism or medical industries are under the same repository, for example.

The platform includes an online post-editing interface, in which the client can implement the needed changes, and save them for later use. With that first translation, that has been reviewed and approved by the client, the system creates a Translation Memory, which is exclusive for this client. Next time the client uploads a file to translate, the system will first reuse the content from the Translation Memory, and what is left will be translated using Machine Translation. Again, it will be the client’s turn to fix the translation to suit his/her needs.

This system, available since September, is available for any type of industry, but we have started by developing a specific environment for companies in the Real Estate business. Our Spanish office is located in one of the most multilingual areas of Spain, Costa del Sol, which is also a place where the Real Estate business has been an economy driver during many years. Despite the crisis, there are still people acquiring properties, and there are many foreign residents living most of the time in Spain, living with Spanish people.

This system enables communication between residents, landlords, lawyers, property administrators, which will lead to more business and better integration of foreign residents.

This Controlled MT+TM system has the following advantages:

  • Translation of Office 2007 and Office 2014 files
  • Use of domain-specific terminology provided by the client
  • Post-Editing interface
  • Confidentiality
  • Continuous improvement
  • Monthly fee

The quality of the translations will depend on the client needs and perishability of the translation. Although at Jensen Localization we will always recommend a full 100 % human translation, provided by professional translators and with exhaustive QA checks before delivering, it is a fact that the market is changing and some clients do not need a perfect quality.

This is why we are adapting our procedures and technology to meet client needs. Are you a lawyer, Real Estate or property administrator working with foreign clients and doing translations in-house? Are you interested in developing such a system for your business domain? Contact us to learn more about our Controlled MT+TM system.