Monday, 5 April 2021

Becoming a specialist translator

To succeed and prosper as a translator, it’s no longer enough to just be a translator: you need to be a specialist translator. These days it is more important than ever to develop an in-depth understanding of one or more specialist fields – ideally something that will hold your interest enough to make you want to explore it ever more deeply.


The unusual nature of translators’ CPD

To become well versed in a special area of work, translators are first and foremost required to read widely around their chosen subject, especially in their target language (i.e. the language they translate into). For me this means: since I’m a German native speaker and am qualified to translate into German only, I read a lot in German with a view to improving my translation skills.

As I regularly deal with computing patents in my job, some of the “informal CPD” that I engage in is reading computer programming books in German. I read them predominantly in German because I’m required to learn how IT contexts are phrased correctly and idiomatically in German. Reading technical books enables me to take mental notes of typical words or text conventions.

 

To succeed and prosper as a translator these days, it’s no longer enough
to just be a translator: you need to be a specialist translator

(photo by Elisabeth Hippe-Heisler: Raspberry Pi)


Should translators’ CPD be focused on studying translations?

But wouldn’t it be better if I read not just German IT texts, but instead compared them meticulously side by side with similar texts in English (if available)? This is a valid question I was once asked, and I agree this would indeed be a good approach. However, I also feel that not all translators’ CPD needs to be translation-related to be useful.

In an actual translation project (and in the areas I work in), my “translator brain” will in many situations be able to match terms and phrases picked up in my monolingual reading with the corresponding terms and phrases in the text I’m translating. For instance, when I’m faced with translating pseudocode in a patent, I will then know that certain words in the code should ideally be in English in the German translation, while any embedded explanatory programmer’s notes (which, for instance, are preceded by a hash sign) will be readily translatable into German.

 

I am first and foremost a language specialist, and the type of activity
which I perform as a translator is a language activity, not a hands-on activity

(photo by Elisabeth Hippe-Heisler: extract from book
"Einstieg in Python" by Thomas Theis)
 


Acquiring a subject specialism in translation

I love complementing my CPD reading activities with some hands-on experience by occasionally typing up the code explained in my books in a development environment. I derive pleasure from seeing with my own eyes that the theory works in practice! Sometimes, though, the programmes that I type up won’t run and I can’t figure out why, but here’s the thing (and this will probably surprise anyone reading this who is not a translator):

Absorbing and memorising the language that’s used to describe the context in question is more relevant to me and my translation work than actually succeeding in running the programme. For in the end the type of activity which I perform to provide my services is a language activity, not a hands-on activity. I am first and foremost a language specialist. I’m a language specialist who has acquired a subject semi-specialism.


To succeed and prosper as a translator these days, it is no longer enough to just be a translator. In this post I set out one of my approaches to specialising as a translator, which has been highly effective and successful.


Thursday, 18 March 2021

Must-know Google search operators for translators (part 2)

Google search operators are powerful tools which translators can employ to create correct and idiomatic translations. They help narrow down the hits returned by Google, extracting specific information that a less refined search query would not.

The headache of online searches these days is that many of the words and phrases found online are unreliable, fishy or incorrect. How do translators go about finding correct and reliable words and phrases for use in their translations?


This blog post is the continuation of my previous blog post "Must-know Google search operators for translators (part 1)", which you can find here.

 

Focused internet searches are vital to the specialised work of translators
and can be powerfully aided by Google search operators

 
 

Reading a Google result
 

It is necessary to understand how a Google result is read.

When I enter, for example, the search words "Elisabeth Hippe-Heisler" into the Google search bar (known as "search query"), this is one of the results that will be displayed by Google:

 



The URL, which stands for Uniform Resource Locator, is the address of a given unique resource on the web.

The title is the title which the autor of the webpage has added to the webpage.

The search words "Elisabeth Hippe-Heisler" will be displayed in bold in an extract from the webpage text.

 
Note that all examples which I’ve given below are based on translations from English to German (the main language combination I work with), but are, of course, applicable to any language combination.
 

The most helpful Google search operators for translators (part 2) 

 

intitle: 

The intitle: operator serves to search for words likely to appear in the title of a website. It is called “title” because in the underlying HTML code <title> tags are used:




Example:

Since machine learning and artificial intelligence are a frequent topic of my patent translations, I often need to equip myself with relevant English/German glossaries before embarking on my translation. It is possible to track down webpages with the German word “Glossar” or the English word “glossary” in the title.

 

The following search query will bring up 74 glossaries with either “Glossar” or “glossary” as well as “künstliche Intelligenz” (German for “artificial intelligence”) in the title.

intitle:Glossar|glossary intitle:"künstliche Intelligenz" 

 

For a more minimal use of words in my search query, I could alternatively shorten the search query as follows: 

allintitle:Glossar|glossary "künstliche Intelligenz"

 


Example: 

Say I’m thinking of using the term “Beacon-Frame” in my German translation, but am unsure whether it is a term that’s typically used in a German data communications context. Assuming further that I trust the reliability of terms on the itwissen.info site (or say I’ve been instructed to use this site for reference), I can then test for this term by typing the following query into Google:

"Beacon Frame" intitle:itwissen 

 

2 Google search hits will confirm to me that “Beacon-Frame” is used on itwissen.info. This convinces me it is appropriate to use the translation “Beacon-Frame” in my German translation.


The tilde symbol 

The tilde symbol ~ is the Google operator for finding synonyms.

 

Example:

To broaden my search for German deep learning-related glossaries, I can either use the OR operator | (the pipe symbol) and include various synonyms for “Glossar” (German for “glossary”) in my hunt for German glossaries:

"deep learning" intitle:glossar|begriffe|fachbegriffe|lexikon|terminologie 

 

Or so as to have to type less, I could simply use the tilde symbol:

"deep learning" ~intitle:glossar
 

 

related: 

The related: search operator is used to find sites similar to the one that is useful to me. 

 

Example: 

epo.org is the European Patent Office’s website, so related:epo.org will bring up other IP-related sites relevant to me as a patent translator as I can consequently extract useful terminology from them.

 


 


filetype:

The filetype: operator serves to limit searches to a specific file format of documents I want to look at online.

 
Example: 

Many reliable glossaries are contained in and available on the web as PDF files. If I’m required to collect glossaries for a mechatronics translation and, for instance, want to restrict my search to PDF files, I could use the following search query:


Mechatronik intitle:glossar|glossary filetype:pdf

 

Combinations of search operators (for example site: and intitle:) 

There are obviously lots of ways in which search operators can be combined for more efficient web searching! For example, one particularly useful way of tracking down terminology for a translation is combining the site: and intitle: search operators.


Example: 

Say it occurs to me that the expression “operatively connected” (or “operatively coupled”), which is typically used in patents, has already been discussed by translators on ProZ.com and I want to take a look at the discussion around this expression. 

English-to-German glossaries in the KudoZ database on ProZ.com are listed at http://www.proz.com/glossary-translations/english-to-german-glossaries, and they all have the words “English to German” in the browser title bar. For quick access to KudoZ results right from my Google search bar, I therefore usually use the following search command:

operatively intitle:"English to German" site:proz.com

 



Conclusion


Focused internet searches are vital to the specialised work of translators and can be powerfully aided by Google search operators. Google search operators are strings of characters that are added to a search engine query to help narrow down the hits returned by Google and produce more accurate translations.

 

This blog post is the continuation of my previous blog post "Must-know Google search operators for translators (part 1)", which you can find here.

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Must-know Google search operators for translators (part 1)

Focused internet searches are vital to the work of translators, as just entering keywords into a search engine often isn’t enough. For more targeted, granular search results, it may instead be necessary to add certain parameters, known as search parameters, to a search query.

 

Google search operators are powerful tools
which translators can employ to create correct and idiomatic translations

 

Creating correct translations using search operators 

The headache of online searches these days is that many of the words and phrases found online are unreliable, fishy or incorrect – a situation exacerbated by the fact that the internet is becoming increasingly swamped with machine translations. How do translators go about finding correct and reliable words and phrases for use in their translations?

This is where Google search operators come in. Google search operators are powerful tools which translators can employ to create correct and idiomatic translations. They help narrow down the hits returned by Google, extracting specific information that a less refined search query would not.


What are Google search operators?

Search operators are strings of characters that are added to a search engine query to narrow the focus of the search. You can, for instance, limit a search to just examining all the text on a particular website by using the site: operator.


Reading a Google result

It is first of all necessary to understand how a Google result is read.

When I enter, for example, the search words "Elisabeth Hippe-Heisler" into the Google search bar (known as "search query"), this is one of the results that will be displayed by Google:

 



The URL, which stands for Uniform Resource Locator, is the address of a given unique resource on the web.

The title is the title which the author of the webpage has added to the webpage.

The search words "Elisabeth Hippe-Heisler" will be displayed in bold in an extract from the webpage text.

 

Note that all examples given below are based on translations from English to German (the main language combination I work with), but are, of course, applicable to any language combination. 


The most helpful Google search operators for translators (part 1)


site:

The site: operator can be used to extract words and phrases from a particular website.

 

Example: 

The site: operator comes in useful, for example, when I’m scouring the leifiphysik.de website for typical German terms or collocations in a physics context for use in my translations. (This website has been recommended to me as a reliable online source for physics by my brother-in-law, who teaches physics in Germany.)

For instance, to find collocations containing the term “Körper” (the German translation of the English term “body”, which in physics is used to describe an object with mass), I input the following search query in Google and will hence be able to browse a host of typical German collocations:

"der Körper" site:leifiphysik.de

 



 










Example: 

Another useful search method which I frequently apply is to use the site:de operator to display websites from Germany only. In other words, the Google search results will be limited to a particular top-level domain (TLD). For instance, I could use the following search query to look at websites with artificial intelligence-related content specifically from Germany:

site:de "künstliche Intelligenz"



Wildcards 

A wildcard is designated by an asterisk (*), which stands for a keyword not yet known at the time I enter my search query. 

 

If I’m unable to remember all the words in a technical term I need to use, I can use a wildcard on Google to find this out quickly. Searches with wildcards – as opposed to searches without them – will usually yield pages about exactly what I'm looking for straight away, thus speeding up my search.

 

Example: 

"Redundant * of Independent Disks"

 


 

I love wildcards and use them all the time – and not just for work! Since I’m not a native speaker of English, I don’t translate into English. I do write a lot in English, though, with much of my writing targeted at British readers. To make sure my English writing sounds right to British ears, I frequently use combinations of wildcards and the site:co.uk operator.


Example:

"pandemic is still * havoc" site:co.uk



Bilingual searches 

Bilingual searches are useful for finding bilingual internet pages that will likely contain both the term and its translation. To narrow down the search, a field-related term in the target language could be added. 


Example: 

I recently had to deal with the term “interrupt coalescing“ in a computing translation. Since I had not come across the term before, I was first of all keen to find a definition of it, ideally a German one to assist me with the appropriate phrasing in my German translation.

I input the following search string into Google:

"Interrupt Coalescing ist"


3 Google hits came up, one of which read: "Interrupt Coalescing ist das Zusammenfassen von mehreren IP-Paketen auf dem Netzwerk-Adapter, bevor ein Interrupt ausgelöst wird." I was satisfied with this definition, not least because I noticed it was part of an e-book, and consequently went on to use „Interrupt Coalescing“ in my translation.

Note: I generally deem text found in e-books or Google Books much more reliable than text found on webpages as the latter are frequently sloppily worded and not properly proofread. 

 

The minus operator – 

The minus operator is used to exclude certain keywords or particular websites from a search. 

 

Example: 

Say I’m thinking of using the translation “Sequenzdetektor” in a machine learning context and wish to check whether this is a common term in German. Say I also wish to to exclude Amazon and Ebay from my search because the machine translations on these sites are known to be unreliable and won’t therefore be of much use in my hunt for the correct term. For this, I use the minus operator:

"Sequenzdetektor" -amazon -ebay

 

Google provides 389 results for “Sequenzdetektor”, including a host of useful German computer engineering sites or book extracts (but not Amazon or Ebay).  


 


 

Alternatively, I could specifically exclude Amazon and Ebay websites from my search:

"Sequenzdetektor" -site:amazon.de -site:ebay.de

 

The pipe symbol |

The pipe symbol stands for OR and is used to include various alternatives of a word in a single search query to cover a number of possibilities. 

 

Example:

I could use the OR operator to find explanations of the meaning of “wear leveling” in an electronics context in German:

 "Wear Leveling ist|bedeutet|wird"

 


 

Example: 

The OR operator comes in useful, for example, in double-checking if “sequenzielle Abhängigkeit” is a typical German term in a deep learning context.

For broader search results, I additionally include various German declensions of the adjectives and nouns I’m using in my search query as well as alternative German spellings (note that I don’t always include so many alternatives):


"sequenzielle|sequentielle|sequenzieller|sequentieller|sequentiellen|sequenziellen Abhängigkeiten|Abhängigkeit" "Deep Learning"


This approach will bring up a few hits. The following book extract convinces me of the reliability of the term “sequenzielle Abhängigkeit”, as a result of which I go on to use it in my translation:

 


 




inurl:

The inurl: operator is employed to check for words likely to appear in the URL of a website.

 

Example: 

I recently had to translate the phrase “to act as a packet capturer (e.g. packet sniffer) during training mode” in a patent translation about machine learning. The term “packet sniffer” is used in German, too, but how to translate “packet capturer”? Translating literally was out of the question. 

Here, the inurl: operator came in useful in the following search engine query:

 "Packet Sniffer" inurl:glossar
 

It transpired from this search that “aufzeichnen”, “abfangen” or “ausspähen” are typical verbs in this context, so I settled on the following translation: “während des Trainingsmodus (z. B. als Packet Sniffer) Datenpakete aufzeichnen”.


Example: 

Recently, the term “feature extractor” (again in a machine learning context) came up in one of my texts for translation, and I wasn’t sure what the correct German equivalent was. I was keen first of all to track down a glossary. To this end I used the following search query:

"feature extractor|extraction" inurl:glossar


The following useful glossary came up: https://quizlet.com/de/459396454/glossar-mti-flash-cards. So I settled on the translation “Merkmalsextraktor”. 
 

Feature extraction
Beim maschinellen Lernen, bei der Mustererkennung und in der Bildverarbeitung beginnt die Merkmalsextraktion mit einem ersten Satz von Messdaten und bildet abgeleitete Werte (Merkmale), die informativ und nicht redundant sein sollen, was die nachfolgenden Lern- und Verallgemeinerungsschritte erleichtert und in einigen Fällen zu einer besseren menschlichen Interpretation führt.


Conclusion

Focused internet searches are vital to the specialised work of translators and can be powerfully aided by Google search operators. In this post I give an overview of Google search operators that are most helpful to translators.

 

This is part 1 of a 2-part article. You can find part 2 of this article here.

 





Saturday, 9 January 2021

The absolute no list

Do you wish to eliminate activities or break habits in your life because you find them draining or frustrating? If so, this post might be for you.


The absolute no list has been proposed by Cheryl Richardson and is a technique designed to help us give up activities that drain us or make us resentful or short-tempered. The absolute no list is a simple, minimal technique that can make a huge difference to our wellbeing!


It focuses on certain aspects of our lives that we’re currently not happy with and therefore want to change. An absolute no list can be created simply by combining the words “I no longer …” with whatever it is we’re no longer willing to do.

 

An absolute no list involves becoming minimal about aspects of life that you find unsatisfying

 


The sentences resulting from this will be almost like mantras. My own absolute no list, for example, now includes the following:

 

I no longer answer the phone while I’m working on something important.


I no longer work in the office after 9pm.


I no longer care about what other people think of me.


I no longer visit Twitter regularly.


I no longer volunteer unless this feels 100% right to me.



Creating an absolute no list can help improve the quality of life significantly and is all about setting new limits – your own limits! It involves becoming minimal about aspects of your life that you find annoying or unsatisfying.

Saturday, 19 December 2020

Christmas 2020 donation to WaterAid

With 2020 set to be one of the three hottest years on record (just behind 2016 and 2019), we’re experiencing not just a climate crisis, but also a water crisis of an unprecedented scale. Globally, temperatures are rising, resulting in more and more extreme weather phenomena and consequently in either too much or too little water.

 

2020 is set to be one of the 3 hottest years on record
(image by Alain Audet on Pixabay)

 

In the same minimalist vein as in previous years, I have once again donated to a charity instead of spending money on Christmas cards and gifts, and I've chosen the WaterAid charity this year. This winter, WaterAid will help bring clean water to 50,000 people across Ethiopia.


People in Ethiopia and around the world require clean water to stay healthy and safe, protect their livelihoods, and build a better future for themselves, whatever our rapidly changing climate brings. You can learn more about this charity or make a donation on the WaterAid website here.