(For those new to the column, Forward Migration is our term for companies moving from Wintel machines to Macs — or at least adding or increasing the number of Macs they use. A forward migration kit is an overview of Mac OS products for a particular occupation, such as dentistry, accounting, etc.)
This week we’re looking at CAT (computer-aided translation) programs for the Mac, as recommended by MacCentral readers.
Alair II is translation memory software for the traditional Mac OS. There is no “professional” or “client” version and there’s no required “dongle” or “online key.” Features include fuzzy match function, alignment tool, user defined text parser, memory import/export, and so on.
Current versions of the US shareware app support Mac OS 8 and 9 (and Mac OS X under Classic). However, a native Mac OS X version is due “in a few months.”
MacCentral reader Michael Grant finds Alair II “severely limited” in that it only processes text files (including Unicode text), but not RTF or native word processor formats).
Wordfast is a set of Word macros, and can be used with Word for Mac and Word for Windows. It’s been working quite well on Mac for the past few months, (although not as well as it works on the PC) according to Deborah Shannon. But as it’s still free, and its developer, Yves Champollion, is swift to implement upgrades in response to any and all feedback. It’s worth a try and very good for Mac-only people wanting to find out about CAT software, Shannon said.
Apart from running under native Mac versions of Microsoft Office (there’s no need for PC emulation) its next best feature in my opinion is that the TMs and glossaries are just plain text files that you can edit and organize without any special interface. The uncleaned files can also be cleaned up in Trados, so this is a way for Mac users to cooperate in Trados projects to some extent, not sure if this is widely practiced yet.”
Also, there’s an accompanying toolkit called PlusTools that’s used for tagging, file alignment, batch file word counts, global search and replace, etc. It can align spectacular volumes of text on a not-very powerful iMac, for instance. Incidentally, both applications are Word templates and under 1MB each.
Shareware author Halldor Gislason has written a CAT program called Word Translator for Macintosh. Although we couldn’t get the URL to work, Gislason said that you can e-mail him for information and/or a demo of the latest version and dictionaries.
CAT and Virtual PC
There are several Windows-based CAT programs such as Trados, WordFisher, SDLX, and DejaVu, that work with varying degrees of success using Connectix’s Virtual PC application.
“A few Windows CAT packages will run under Virtual PC, but most of them won’t because they require dongles in the PC serial port,” Michael Grant said.
There are several CAT resources available in a variety of forms. If a person has no knowledge of the target language, and wants to communicate a simple story to another person, that person will probably get a rough translation, which in many instances may be sufficient, according to Donald Sheehan, who recommends the following resources.
Translation Experts have shareware dictionaries in about 30 languages. Language Automation gives a good list of glossaries (dictionaries) for about 40 languages. The Language Automation site provides a good list of “translation engines” that are useful for translating from one language to the other. Freeware, shareware and commercial sites use some of these engines for translating.
There are resources that do a “draft” translation of narratives, from one language to the other. These translations tend to be “literal” rather than “conversational,” so that native speakers will become aware of communication that’s not as smooth as they’re accustomed to. Some of these resources are “free,” and some are sold in the open market.
“Most of the free online translators do a passable job for English into French, German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese,” Sheehan said. “However, one must recognize that language abilities vary among Internet users. And, though Spanish is spoken throughout Central and South America, the words used for identical objects or actions may vary considerably from one country to the next. Then, due to radio, TV and the coming together of the South American and American economies, there is the merging of English and Spanish into Spanglish.”
When he’s translating for himself, he uses a CAT to go from the “source” language to the “target” language. However, to verify that these might be acceptable, Sheehan translates back from the target language to the source language and compares the accuracy. If he’s not satisfied, he’ll try another translator and do the same thing, then compare the results of the two translations. Sometimes Sheehan will translate from one source language to the other and use another translator for the translation back to the source language. With this in mind, here’s how he rates the best to the better CATs: