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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

New to translation technology? On this page we hope to answer the most commonly asked questions regarding our translation software and services. If you have a question that is not answered here, please contact us.

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Machine Translation (MT) FAQ
Machine translation is also called automatic translation or simply translation software.

Computer Aided Translation (CAT) FAQ
CAT tools are used by professional translators to improve efficiency and accuracy.

Localization FAQ
Localization is the process of translating a piece of software or a web site from one natural language to another.

Professional Translation FAQ
Professional translation, also known as "human translation", is a process involving an actual bilingual person or group of bilingual people translating written documents from one language to another.


Machine Translation FAQ


What is machine translation?
Machine translation is also called "automatic translation" or simply translation software. Machine translation software translates text in one natural language into another natural language, taking into account the grammatical structure of each language and using rules to transfer the grammatical structure of the source language (text to be translated) into the target language (translated text). Machine translation cannot replace a human translator for demanding applications such as legal or literary work, nor is it intended to. The term we use in the industry is 'gisting'. Modern MT software should give you about 80% accuracy and higher. Many companies that represent themselves as MT providers are actually selling "word by word" translation. Make sure you know what you are getting and ask a lot of questions about upgrade paths and integration.

Who makes the most accurate machine translation software?
Each language may have one or more software solutions that may work best for any particular case. Feel free to browse our catalog, call us at 877-772-2456, or email us to determine which package best fits your needs.

How can I improve the accuracy of machine translation?
The best way to improve the accuracy of machine translation is to pay close attention to the source text. The more simple and direct the source text is, the higher the accuracy of the output. Use of user dictionaries is also important where available, especially in technical fields. Most translation software will let the user edit the dictionaries to include any modifications that they deem necessary. This way if a word is used incorrectly or not included, it can be easily added so that future translations will be more accurate.

What is "word by word" translation?
Word by word translation translates each word or phrase that it understands, but does not take grammar into account. Word by word translators are generally not as effective as automatic or machine translators, but still can be very useful, for instance as a translation aid.

How can I translate letters and other paper documents with my computer?
You can scan it using optical character recognition (OCR) software and then use a translation program to translate it. You may need special OCR software that is designed to recognize the source language. You can also re-type it into your computer, although this may be impractical if you are not familiar with the language or do not have the proper equipment such as multilingual word processing software, special keyboards, etc.

What quality of translation can I expect from translation software?
This depends on many factors such as the translation program, the type of translation, the grammar of the document to be translated, the use of a specialty dictionary or glossary, among other factors. The quality of the engine of the translation program and the size of its dictionary are usually the most important factors. Generally, you can expect draft-quality translations: the result can be readily understood, but will need editing and correction for professional use. Again, a professional translator or firm should be used for demanding or mission-critical applications such as legal or literary work.

Can I translate web pages and e-mail?
Yes! Several of the programs we sell allow you to translate web pages and/or e-mail directly. Other programs require you to cut and paste the information into the translation program before translating it.

Can I add words and phrases to the dictionary of translation programs?
Most of the programs we sell allow you to add words or change the meaning of existing words. This can greatly increase the effectiveness of the program.

How do these translation programs operate? Are they easy to use?
Translation software is as easy to operate as common word processing programs. First, you need to tell the program what text to translate. This can be done in one of several ways depending on the program. Some programs allow you to translate right in your word processor or other applications. In some programs you can open the document or text file directly in the translation program to translate. And in some programs you cut and paste the text into the program. Next, you may need to select the direction of the source and target languages and you may also have additional options available such as specialty or user defined dictionaries. And finally there may be a button to click to start the translation process. That's all there is to it! Much easier than learning to read Russian (or Spanish, or Italian, or whatever).

Can I type a document in a foreign language using translation software?
You may be able to type in the language(s) that the translation program uses. Also, your translation program may be able to operate right in your word processor. However, for regular use it would likely be better to use a multilingual word processor such as Global Writer or Global Office which can emulate the keyboards of over 100 major languages. For Chinese, Japanese, and other languages than do not use the Western character set you also may need to install a language support package.

How can I spell check a foreign document?
Some translation packages have spell check features. For English we have Bilingual Corrector, for French there is Le Correcteur, and for Spanish there is El Corrector. We also have Microsoft Proofing Tools line of spell checkers/grammar checkers for many languages that work with Microsoft Word.

Can I translate a document with pictures in it?
Yes! Some programs such as SYSTRAN can preserve the formatting of a document, in others you may have to cut and paste the text out of the document and replace it after translating.

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Computer Aided Translation FAQ


What is Computer Aided Translation (CAT)?
Computer Aided Translation or CAT is sometimes called "interactive translation" and is intended for professional translators who are already fluent in the two languages they are translating. CAT tools often include terminology management and translation memory to enhance efficiency and accuracy of translation, especially in longer documents.

What is translation memory?
Think of translation memory as a database that stores words and phrases that you have already translated. The next time you come across the same word or phrase... the database looks up the word and automatically gives you the choice of using the same translation again. This accomplishes two things... it saves time and more importantly keeps the terminology consistent throughout the entire document. This is especially useful for bigger translation jobs where more than one translator is working on the same project.

Which CAT tools do you recommend?
There are different CAT tools available for many job sizes. The industry standard is TRADOS, although companies like SDL and Multitrans are making serious inroads in this business as well. Make sure to ask an independent reseller like translation.net which tool is right for you. Asking a company that makes CAT tools will invariably result in... "Our tool works best for everyone!"

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Localization FAQ


What is Localization?
Localization is the process of translating a piece of software or a web site from one natural language to another. For instance, in France people do not use the same version of Windows that is used in America. They use a localized version with help, menu commands, and installation instructions in their native language. Very often cultural aspects and information must be translated as well as the language.

How Much Does Localization Cost?
Localization normally starts at the cost of high-end translation jobs ($.30 per word) and goes up from there. The best way to keep costs down is to get a project bid. It is vital to understand that outsourcing your localization to an inferior company can be the death of your project. Localization horror stories are not hard to come by in this industry. In short, make sure you are dealing with good companies.

What Does the Localization Process Entail?
Localization is normally done with a specialized software tool such as Catalyst from Alchemy Software. These tools allow the translator to translate the menus, help, html, and prompts into another language without disturbing the code base. Then Catalyst automatically places the translated natural language back into the code base of the program. Now you have a localized version. With advanced features like Translation Memory, Catalyst allows the localizer to 'leverage' his work on previous translations thereby localizing minor updates automatically.

I am skeptical. What kind of professional tips can translation.net give me that I canít get by looking around the Web at localized sites?
There are too many tips to name all of them, but here is an example. Many web sites that are poorly localized have flags that represent the different languages. People click on the flags to display the language of their choice. This can actually alienate more users than it impresses. For English language navigation, should a British flag, a Canadian flag, a United States flag, or an Australian flag be presented? Wouldn't shipping policies, spelling, and even marketing talk be different in different English speaking countries? This may not seem so severe an example, but for many country / language combinations it is easier to offend than to make a good impression! Perhaps the best way to localize a big site that covers many regions is to ask the user on the entry page what his 'locale preference' is and then proceed.

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Professional Translation FAQ


What is Professional Translation?
Professional translation, also known as "human translation", is a process involving an actual bilingual person or group of bilingual people translating written documents from one language to another. Some translators use Computer Assisted Translation (CAT) tools like TRADOS, others rely solely on a multilingual word processor and their own experience. Since professional translators are always native speakers in the language they translate into, results are expected to approach perfection. Prices for raw human translation normally range from as low as 17 cents per word up to 75 cents per word for highly technical or poetic translations.

What sort of documents are best suited for professional translation?
Documents in which your company name, credibility, or reputation is on the line are suitable for professional translation. Incoming foreign documents of dubious value are generally good fodder for machine translation programs like SYSTRAN. This way you can scan a document to see if it is worthy for professional translation before you spend the money. For example, you wouldn't want to use professional translation for a piece of Japanese spam. In short, all outgoing documents are particularly well suited for professional translation. Why? Because a poorly translated document can mean the difference between an international success and a complete failure.

How can I get a quote for my translation project?
Most companies and organizations outsource their translation projects. Many agencies require a complicated procedure in order to get a quote. We use a simple web form. No matter how large or small the project, make sure you get multiple quotes until you grow familiar with a company and their offerings. No single agency is best for all translation jobs.

Why can't a bilingual staff member translate our documents?
When a business or organization translates an important document, they are literally at the mercy of their translator. Perhaps you are lucky and the employee is gifted linguistically in both languages and has agreeable writing, editing, and proofreading skills; or perhaps not. You are assured of quality with professional translation. Here is a good test to determine if your employee is up to the task. First, they must be native speakers of the language into which they are translating. Second, have them write a marketing piece or business letter in English. If they can pass these two tests, they will probably suffice. Otherwise, hire a professional. All of Translation.net's translators are approved by regulating bodies such as the American Translators Association (ATA).

Why is there so much difference in pricing for professional translation?
Different translation agencies have various strengths and weaknesses and work on different scales. Some questions to consider are: How educated and experienced are the translators? What country do they live in? Is the translator aware of available technology to improve accuracy and consistency throughout the document? Is proofreading included? Do you need professional or technical expertise? Is there a project manager? Is there a team of translators or just one? The more questions you ask before you accept a bid, the less surprises you will have when the project comes back.

How can I maximize costs / benefits from a translation agency?
When you consider a translation agency, specify the project in as much detail as possible. Make a list of things important to you and e-mail or fax them to the translation team. Explain the nature of your document. Is it a scientific translation? Is it marketing or legal terminology? Make sure to ask your important questions up front. Be aware that time constraints may affect the price and accuracy of a translation.Plan ahead!

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