There are many CAT tools available today and it’s always worthwhile to write about a promising one. Smartcat is a browser-based, computer-assisted translation tool worth showcasing. We’ll give you a quick rundown of its main features which will undoubtedly intrigue you enough to give it a go.

Smartcat is a great platform for finding, hiring and paying freelancers, but we’ll focus more on the features Smartcat offers to project managers and translators.

 

Project Manager’s Point of View

Smartcat supports pretty much any file format you can come up with. It can be used to translate anything from Microsoft Office file formats to technical writing and localization file formats such as DITA XML or CSV, but also import packages such as SDLPPX / SDLRPX and create return packages. Also, it can be used to translate images in formats such as JPG, however this requires prior file conversion with Smartcat’s OCR software. This is not a free feature, but it is always possible to convert the file beforehand using online conversion tools or an OCR application such as ABBYY FineReader.

If you need quick statistics on your translation project, Smartcat’s got your back. When creating a project, it will calculate all the statistics you may need. This means word count, character count (both with and without spaces), number of segments, pages, repetitions, etc. Everything you need in one place.

It’s possible to create and upload translation memories as well as glossaries and use them for projects. This is an extremely useful feature when it comes to using proper terminology in a certain project and keeping your translations consistent.

Smartcat allows project managers to allocate certain parts of a project to specific translators. This is great when working on a big project with a short deadline. That allows several people to work on their own part of the project at the same time and complete the project faster. However, since all translators have a translation style of their own, it is of vital importance to have a single editor for the whole text. Smartcat offers three workflow stages: translation, editing and proofreading. This allows employment of several translators, and then of one editor to go over the whole text once the translation stage ends.

 

Translator’s Point of View

Smartcat has a user-friendly interface that is aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate. All quick icons are displayed in the toolbar above the text, the source and target texts are displayed one next to another, all translation memory and glossary info is displayed on the right, and segment filtering is just one click away.

smartcat-segments

Have you ever worked on a large translation project and just knew there was an unconfirmed segment somewhere, but you couldn’t seem to find it? Just press F9 and Smartcat will find it for you. Also, if you’ve made notes on several segments you want to get back to later on, you can jump to the segment you need by entering the segment number.

smartcat-segments

This feature is particularly useful when translating from a language with several cases, such as Croatian. Translation memories are sensitive to cases, so this can be an issue when searching for a term you need. That’s why you can enter a part of a word or phrase in the source text box, and all the segments containing it will be filtered.

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When you realize you’ve been using a wrong key term throughout the text after getting more than half of the translation done, don’t despair. Smartcat allows you to find all key terms in the target text and replace them with the terms you initially overlooked with a single click.

smartcat-comments

If there’s something you want to leave a note on regarding a certain segment or document, you can use the comment feature. This is a great way for you to explain to the person editing or proofreading your translation why you’ve preferred one term over the other, leave links to relevant sources, etc. It’s also a great way for the editor or proofreader to explain why something in your translation was altered and what to look out for in the future.

There are many other useful features as well, such as changing case, limiting segment length, undoing/redoing last actions, inserting special characters, and concordance searching. There’s also the progress bar that will always be there to show you how many words you’ve got left.

 

There you have it. This browser-based, computer-assisted translation tool has a bunch of useful features that will meet all your needs. The best thing; it won't cost you a dime. So, if you ever wanted to get yourself a translation tool, but did not want the additional expense, this is your chance to try out a great translation tool for free.

 

 

 

As we have previously briefly touched on in one of our blog posts, there are differences between working as a freelancer and working at a translation agency. Before getting yourself into any type of work, the most important thing to do is: research, research and research! Learn everything there is to know about your every option and see what works best for you.

So, how about getting the inside scoop on what it’s like working at a translation agency?

 

Learning Every Day

If you are a young and inexperienced translator, it might be a good idea to try and find a job at a translation agency. You might think you know it all, but you are (probably) not right. In fact, even the most experienced translators learn something new every time they take on a new project. One of the best things about this job is that it’s never boring. You are constantly improving! Finding a proficient mentor at the beginning of your career is crucial since it will build a foundation for your further development in the business. Working at a translation agency is invaluable when it comes to learning the ropes of the industry.

In addition, having someone to talk to and discuss your translating problems can be amazing! It’s true what they say about two heads being better than one. It’s always easier to bounce ideas off someone, so having colleagues who are ready to tackle some serious translating problems with you can mean the world. And finding a solution with the help of a colleague and a friend feels great.

 

It’s Never Boring

If you have problems with self-motivation and organization, working at a translation agency should be your choice. No matter what, you have your working hours and something to do at all times. If you usually have problems with procrastination, you will easily overcome that issue. Also, there is no need for you to play the role of a project manager, marketer, client manager etc. You don’t have to worry about payments, taxation and pension plans. You are a part of the team as a translator and your co-workers take care of other business segments. Freelancing, on the other hand, means that all aspects of business fall on your shoulders. This does have its own advantages/benefits, but if you do not feel comfortable taking on that amount of responsibility, a translation agency could be a way to go.

 

Financial Benefits

This also implies that, at a translation agency, you have steady income. Why would you worry whether you will have enough work throughout the month or, on the other end of the spectrum, whether you will have too many translation projects to do, which comes with working long hours, lack of sleep, concentration and a non-existent social life. Steady income means you’ll be getting an amount of money you can count on every month, under any circumstances.

 

And Best of All…

Camaraderie! By far the best thing about working at a translation agency are your colleagues. If you are lucky enough to work with a group of amazing people, going to work will be a piece of cake. I am fortunate enough to work at Sinonim, which, apart from being an incredible business opportunity, consists of people who make work a breeze, regardless of the amount of work that needs to be done.

Also, you can check our Instagram account for more tips and tricks about working at a translation agency.

 

There you have it. Hopefully, this will help you decide on the direction you want to take your career in. Good luck!

Starting something new requires knowledge and bravery. If that something comes from personal desire and intrinsic motivation, it becomes a much easier task to accomplish. Regardless, blindly undertaking such responsibility can be troublesome without proper advice from others.

Today, we are going to be focusing on facilitating the starting process of any young translator. Of course, there is a lot for individuals to learn on their own, but we’ll do our best to provide some guidance for new translators, and it will hopefully make the entire starting process somewhat easier.

 

  1. Understand the business.

First things first, learning the business is an important aspect of starting anything. When it comes to translating, there are several options for you which you must explore before going any further. You need to be aware of the risk/reward ratio of anything you would do and compare it to your professional capabilities and personal desires. Translating literature is not the same as translating technical texts and it does not require the same amount of work for the same profit. For example, translating literature is often not that cost-effective. If you enjoy translating literature, be ready for the fact that it will not always be sunshine and rainbows, since it can take up a lot of time and additional research. But, ultimately, enjoying what you’re doing is what matters most.

Furthermore, figure out the differences between working for an employee and being a freelancer. This one is important. There are many differences between those two and you should see what works best for you.

All in all, learn about yourself and your intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, and act accordingly.

 

  1. Be prepared to work hard.

Despite what you have chosen as your business direction, it will not be easy. Sure, some days will be easier than others, but there will be harder days too. If you are freelancing, you might think that you can wake up whenever you want and still have a lot of free time because you don’t have a 9-5 job. On the contrary. Depending on the amount of work, there will be days when you’ll be working from early in the morning to late in the evening (including weekends) and you’ll still be cutting it close. On the other hand, when working for a company, you have your office hours and then you’re done. But, approximately the same amount of work will be crammed into your normal working hours, and you’ll end up exhausted for the rest of the day. So, whatever you choose, be ready to give it your best.

 

  1. Find a mentor.

When starting, don’t be too confident. Be aware that there are many things you can still learn and that you will learn every day when translating. Finding someone who can constructively criticize you is of the utmost importance. You also need to learn how to accept that criticism as something valuable to you, not as a personal blow. Translating means constant improvement and learning. It’s okay to make mistakes when you are a beginner, but it’s not okay not to learn from those mistakes.

 

  1. Check everything.

As we said, it’s okay to make mistakes, but it’s your job as a translator to give your best and minimize them as much as possible. It’s obligatory to check everything at least twice, if there is time. Distractions lead to mistakes, which is fine, as long as you detect and correct them before sending the translation. Our advice is, if possible, to sleep on it, and then come back with a fresh mind to reread it.

And, of course, always use a spell checker.

 

These are only some of the most important advice to get you started, but make sure to further look into what is needed to be a good translator. There are many books that might interest you, such as Translation in Practice: A Symposium by Gill Paul or How to Succeed as a Freelance Translator by Corinne McKay, among others. Make sure you network wisely, try out different translating tools to find the best one for you, set a realistic deadline when freelancing, and don’t shy away from a challenging project (within reason), because you will end up far more knowledgeable on the subject and you will be proud for doing it in the end.

There is no denying the fact that deadlines are extremely important when it comes to the quality of translation projects. However, many clients require large translation projects to be completed in an impossible amount of time.

Why does this happen?

Many companies work on a project and find themselves in need of a translation. In many cases, their own project has a short deadline, therefore they need the translation to be done ASAP so they could continue working on the project. If the translation is late or faulty, the whole project is affected. This is one of many examples where translation projects with unrealistically short deadlines might turn up. What clients do not understand is that translation takes time.

It is not at all unusual to get an inquiry for a very technical translation project of some 20 000 words with a deadline set for the next day at 11 a.m. It can be done, but likely at a high cost, and we are not even talking about finance here. No translator, or a group of translators, would be able to make a high-quality translation in such a short amount of time. High-quality translations require careful research, appropriate terminology and, most of all, proper editing, especially after several translators had worked on a single project.

However, there are cases in which the deadline for a large translation project can be met. The questions are: how can this be done, and how does this affect translation quality?

Translation quality

It all really depends on the organization of the translation project. If several translators are working on the same project individually, with no mutual communication or project glossaries, the translation will inevitably be of poor quality. Different terms will be used by different translators and the differences in their styles of translation will be obvious. This will result in an enormous amount of work for the editor.

Make sure translators communicate during the translation process

If an agency decides to accept a big project with a short deadline, more often than not, several translators need to work on it. In such cases, communication among translators is essential. Translators can exchange information on certain terms and concepts or point each other towards useful resources for the translation project. Also, they are able match their styles of translation to a certain extent. Moreover, creating a project-specific glossary of terms is also of great help when dealing with an urgent translation project that involves several translators. All of this is important to ensure consistent use of terminology throughout the text and decrease the time needed to complete the task.

Ask the client for a translation memory or previous similar translations, if possible

If the client is able to provide a translation memory, this may be extremely helpful, especially if dealing with a translation project that requires extensive research regarding terminology. Translation memories can be uploaded to a CAT tool directly and improve the translation process. However, if all the client can provide are examples of previous similar translations, this can be helpful in terms of acquiring proper terminology and context for the current translation.

Leave enough time for editing

Plan the translation project to leave enough time for careful editing. This may decrease the short translation deadline even more; however attentive editing always results in a higher quality translation. When a large translation project is done in a short period of time, especially by several translators, some errors will most likely remain after the translation process. The editor can then correct those mistakes and adjust the style of writing and make it consistent throughout the text. The better the communication between translators during the translation process, the less work there is for the editor.

Clients are not always familiar with the way a translation project is carried out and often set unrealistic deadlines. When translation agencies decide to undertake such a feat and deal with the client’s request in the best way possible, several things are required to achieve the necessary translation quality: several translators need to work on the project, they need to communicate and use all available resources, and, finally, there must be enough time for the editor to “touch up” the translation. This way, urgent translations can be done to a satisfactory level. Still, whenever possible, it is best to negotiate with the client and get a deadline appropriate for the task at hand.

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