About this blog

Translator's Shack is a collection of links, news, reviews and opinions about translation technologies. It's edited and updated by Roberto Savelli, an English to Italian translator, project manager and company owner of Albatros Soluzioni Linguistiche, a team of English-Italian translators, which hosts and supports this blog.


The Life as a PM category, managed by Gabriella Ascari, contains topics that are less technical in nature, but which we're sure will be appreciated by owners of small translation businesses and freelancers.


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What are back translations really for?

Whenever we’re asked to do a back translation, we instinctively recoil and kindly refuse.
It may not seem like a logical business choice, but to me, back translations are first and foremost a way end clients have to control your work that is far more intrusive than making sure quality is up to scratch. It’s as if they were saying: I don’t really know your mother tongue and since I can never be sure whether you’re good or not, I’ve decided to bring it all back to my language so that I can judge for myself.

And this really irks me.

But of course, this is not all there is to it.
I’m sure at the root of it there’s a lack of communication between the middle entity, that is the company between ourselves, the LSP, and the end clients, and the end client themselves. Very often the middle company does not have any Italian linguists and they have to find ways to reassure a client that they cannot reassure by other, more persuasive means. Hence the back translation.

But is it really effective?
We all know that when translating “you lose some, you gain some”, but what happens when your reverse the combination? I’m sure the end client thinks that if all that was there to begin with is not there in the back translation, then… A-ha!, there’s your mistranslation! But it does not really work quite this way and when you end up having to justify why “more” can and should be translated as “many” if there’s no comparison to follow (i.e. more than… something), well… when this happens frustration kicks in and you end up having to justify your own language to people who don’t speak it nor understand it.

What’s new in ApSIC Xbench 2.8 beta

image ApSIC has just released a new beta version of Xbench, the excellent, free terminology management and quality assurance tool.

Among other things, Xbench allows to batch-search large amount of bilingual files such as text files, TMX, TBX, most Trados formats, SDLX, STAR, Wordfast; Deja Vu etc. It also helps spot potential translation quality issues, such as untranslated segments, translation inconsistencies, tag mismatches, double spaces, terminology inconsistencies, etc. Using custom-made checklists, translators can also fine-tune the QA process to their specific needs and find, for instance, banned words or characters.

Here are the new features offered by this latest version:

  • New support for Regular Expressions and Microsoft Word Wildcards. Now it is possible to search and add check list items using regular expressions grammar or Microsoft Word wildcards. This allows you to specify very powerful search expressions that we believe that will allow you to reach a new level with QA searches. You can check out the power of regular expressions and learn how to use them by running the sample search templates provided against a large glossary such as a Microsoft Windows software glossary.
  • Faster search engine. The already fast search engine has been improved in the new search engine to become a 50% faster.
  • More supported formats. Now it also supports SDLX memories, Atril DejaVu and Idiom files, and Logoport RTF files.
  • Categories for checklist items. Now you can organize your checklist items in categories and run them selectively.
  • More fine-grained selection of segments to search. Now you can limit searches to only new segments, only ongoing translation or even exclude locked segments in search results.
  • And many other enhancements and fixes!

Xbench can be downloaded from http://www.apsic.com/en/downloads.aspx.

From ApSIC Tools Weblog » ApSIC Xbench 2.8 beta released!

Two interesting (and perhaps antagonistic) blog posts on translation quality

First there’s 90% of in-country reviews are a waste of time, from the Medical Translation Blog where, after a somehow provocative title, the author explains the difference between theoretical, ideal situations and the hard facts of in-country reviews, which are often marred by the following problems:

  • Lack of information sharing (e.g., no reference materials)
  • Lack of understanding regarding brand
  • Review schedules that are “black holes”
  • Clarity of review changes is lacking (ever try reading a French doctor’s handwriting?)
  • Mechanics fail (file exchanges don’t work, changes are entered inconsistently)
  • Quality of review changes (linguistic, technical errors are introduced)

Then there’s Quality translation dictates a collaborative effort, from the Translation and Software Localization Blog, which can be considered as some sort of retort to the previous post. The author adopts concepts from control theory to explain how in-country review is in fact an essential step of the translation process.

I think that the two articles complement each other and really support the idea that quality control, when done properly, can make a huge difference for the final quality of any translated or localized product. In conclusion, two interesting reads.

Interesting article on ISO certification on Global Watchtower

The latest Global Watchtower article sheds some light on ISO certification for language service providers, citing the example of Eurotext Translations and explaining why the achievement of the ISO 9001:2008 standard represents a “smart move” for this company towards gaining a competitive advantage over providers who are “only” 9001:2000 certified.

via Translation Providers Cast Their Gazes toward ISO 9001:2008.