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If I could build the perfect translation tool - Part 2 bY The Japan Translation Company

In the first part of this article, we noted that translation tools, although offering many benefits to the translator, each have their own flaws, and none of them can be said to be perfect.

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We noted, in particular, difficulties in searching for terms when trying to maintain consistency throughout the document, the time-consuming nature of multiple tags in heavily formatted documents, and the often-counterintuitive behavior when running QA within the tool.

The problem when trying to ensure consistency of term usage throughout your Japanese translation is that the translation memory only works based on segment matches, and if a word is used multiple times but in otherwise different sentences, there will be no matching. There is often a search function, but this does not allow you to compare the usage of the terms in real time. Fortunately, there is one tool that leads the way in this area. Memsource (although it has other issues) provides text boxes at the top of the source and target segment columns and this allows you to display simultaneously all segments in which that term appears. This is extremely useful and I would have my perfect translation tool inherit this approach as well.

In many ways, tags in translation tools are not fit for purpose. The idea is that they enable the target document to replicate the formatting of the source document. The problem is that as the word order is often very different between source and target language, the formatting is doomed to failure from the start. Even so, to use the tool, the Japanese translator needs to place words within the tags. This is very laborious. A function to copy the source segment, remove tags (and then after the translation) repopulate the tags in a logical way would save a lot of time. My perfect translation tool would have this as well.

Finally, there is the problem of QA. Currently, QA picks up on number mismatches due to the translation of months not containing the number, and cannot convert between Japanese year/western calendar years, leading to many false negatives. It is also very annoying when copied English text is flagged as being “not translated”. Basically, QA tools need to adapt more intelligently to the actual differences of expression within the languages being considered.

By inhering the good points of existing tools, and making current functions smarter, I believe I could (at least get closer to) creating the perfect translation tool.

About the Author
Simon Way is a contributing author to SAECULII YK, the owner of the Japan Translation Company Tokyo, Japan. Visit SAECULII for the latest professional case studies, articles and news by Japanese Translation Service

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