German to English translation software for faster & more consistent translations!
Search for “German to English translation software” on the net and you’ll just get a list of companies trying to sell their machine translation products. Not much use for a German translator.
So here’s my short guide on the tools available for the professional German translator, for the actual process of translation
and for organising your work.
So where to begin? The options can be daunting, so we’ll keep it short. For the sake of clarity, I’ve divided this guide into 2 categories: (Well, 3 categories really - I've also listed all the free software available for download. And there's a lot out there....)
— What is a translation memory (TM)?
A Translation Memory (TM) is a type of CAT tool.
CAT stands for
Computer-Assisted (or -Aided) Translation, and CAT tools include
terminology managers and databases, dictionaries, and translation memory
software. (Apologies for all the abbreviations!)
— Who needs CAT tools?
Professional translators and agencies. They are designed to speed up the process of translation whilst ensuring high levels of terminological consistency. Properly used, CAT tools should help you increase your output and your profit margins.
— How do they work?
Broadly speaking, parallel texts - the original (German) text and the translated (English) text - are divided up into short sections (“segments”).
The segments in the original text are matched up against the segments in the translated text to create “translation units”. These units are usually a clause or a sentence in length. These matching units are then stored in a database - your translation memory.
When you start a new translation, the TM searches the database, calling up and presenting any stored translation units which match the content of the new translation. (Here I go into more detail about how TMs work.)
— So a TM is a glossary, really?
No. A glossary helps ensure consistency at the level of individual terms (e.g. DE: “Vormaterial” / EN: “billet”). A TM works to keep entire sentence structures consistent across a text.
Today TMs are standard equipment in any in-house translation department or translation agency, and are commonly used by professional freelance translators.
They act as a resource for new translators allowing them to produce translations which match the style and wording of past translations – vital for translation departments responsible for large translation volumes, and any organisation looking to maintain branded communications over time.
Good German to English translation software can be relatively expensive, but any German translator serious about a career in translation will need to consider investing at some point.
Here is a list of the most popular TMs on the market to get you started, including free and cloud-based TMs.
Whether you’re translating, transcribing or whatever, there are many tools available to make the process of translating more efficient. I’m thinking of:
1. Sound editing and recording programmes
If your German translation involves voiceovers and synchronizing your English text with the original German video, you may need to record your German translation and present it in audio format. This job is made much easier with the right tools.
2. Transcription programmes
Translators are often requested to transcribe German audio recordings into written German or English. Tools can simplify and speed up the process of transcribing recorded German into written English text.
3. Word count and character count software
You can only charge for your work when you can count the content and calculate words and lines accurately. Word documents are usually no problem, but as soon as you get to tricky file formats such as PPT, HTML or PDFs, then you'll need technical assistance.
4. Voice recognition software
If you fancy lying back and telling your computer what to write, then your dreams have (almost!) come true!
Developers have made great strides in producing good and affordable voice recognition software, and translators (like me) are particularly fond of Dragon Naturally Speaking software.
How do you get to hear about new translation software programmes coming onto the market?
Well, by keeping your eyes and ears open and staying tuned to the “translator network”.
I often pick up good tips by attending local events run by the Chamber of Commerce and by meeting up regularly with other local translators. And being listed in an online directory of translators such as ProZ.com, or a professional social networking group (e.g. LinkedIn.com) is a really good way of hearing what your fellow German translators are thinking and saying about various tools and technologies.