44 thoughts on “Trados bought by SDL

  1. Intriguing SDL website referring to translation memories for life sciences, government and education, but no mention of law offices that may still used books and CDs of legal precedents.

    Translators are having trans. memories forced on them. Why are lawyers – who themselves insist on discounts for translated-words repetition – resisting this trend? Maybe their clients don’t realise they are being dished up legal docs., with ever so slight adaptations, from other cases and clients of the firm.

  2. I agree with Paul. Translators can refuse to work with Trados and still find enough work. Unfortunately, most translators are more than willing to buy whatever their clients tell them to buy. That is the sad reality. Therefore, Trados et al. will stay for a long, long time. We’ll see where this SDL/Trados fusion will lead us… my gut tells me that we’re going to see yet another CAT vendor trying to establish a proprietary standard.

  3. Most of my colleagues work with Trados mainly because they find it easy, because they can still work in Word. The problems start once they receive a text in Power Point or Excel…;-)

  4. I agree with everyone above. Still no-one has addressed the lawyers’ regurgitated documents point. Their clients would have to obtain inside firm’s knowledge to realise the recycling scam. The Law Societies and Bar Council of the UK are doing abs. nothing about this.

  5. I use Transit, by my own choice. I imagine sooner or later I will have to change to something else, but I gather DV isn’t so strong on the terminology component. Anyway, I don’t usually have the problem that a client wants discounts for matches.

    AMM, I have, oddly enough, never found boilerplate repeat except within the same set of contracts / client. Mind you, that was on the sentence level. Transit would show me a match of 70% or over (my settings). Trados at the moment will automatically match on a phrase (group of words) level, and maybe this would bring matches. But even then, I’d still be using my own translations for one contract on another contract. So I’m not sure what you mean by ‘recycling scam’.

    I have heard the proprietary question raised with reference to technical manuals, though.

  6. I just wish accountants would recycle more, then we’d be able to use TM effectively in financial accounting and reporting texts. As it is, we often get less than 20% matches for the same company from one year to the next. And there are generally no cross-company matches whatsoever, though TM may be useful for concordance (in which case the cost-benefit has to be analysed very carefully).

    TM works best for s/w localisation and product documentation of all kinds. For “normal” texts, its usefulness is massively overhyped, I fear.

  7. Robin: I must say, for me the matches are the least interesting aspect. If only I could get the rest of the features without this segmentation! I like being able to check terminology and figures automatically and seeing the vocabulary in my database highlighted. Another use has been translation of XML files for the Web. And of course, every so often a text is revised and the matches do pay off – again, if only I knew or the client revealed what is likely to come up again!

  8. Ma’am, I have not the slightest semblance of an inkling of a clue what you are on about, yet I rejoice to the n or even the n+1th degree to find you are back, to the extent of being here!

    (And were, or had it been, indeed by your hand that I came into the possession of a parcel of Tyska trashbladets, I beg further allowance of off-topicitude to allow me to indulge my gratitude, gratefullness and especially thanks.)

  9. Don’t worry, Des. Language – and especially lingustics – create an impenetrable jargon of their own. Agencies tell me not to worry about having no trans. software, as my files can be ‘segmented’ – sounds painful, but I’m sure others will enlighten us.

    Reverting to the original theme, SDL are the successors to my last inhouse trans. co. employers and have effectively barred me – after many years’ loyal service – from working for them without their own SDL software. They also issued ex-colleagues of mine with an ultimatum to switch to their software or else.

    No doubt, soon, there will come a time of Trados-cum-SDL monopoly to marginalise us freaks on the fringes even further.

  10. I am not worried about TMs talked about on the SDL site. These things are completely useless (as is MT, by the way!).

    Look at some machine-generated contracts and other legal forms you can download or buy in bookstores – people still prefer a human lawyer over such “CAT-like solutions” in the legal world.

  11. (you may know this) segmenting (usually called aligning) means taking a German text and an English translation (in our case) and linking each sentence (or clause or paragraph) in the DE text to its equivalent in the EN text. Then the program can use these texts as a memory. It sounds as if an agency is converting your translations for its own future purposes.

  12. Thanks, Margaret, for the explanation. I see now a copyright issue in segmentation I didn’t see before.

    Recycling scam, incidentally, means not boilerplate translations, but Eng.-lang.-only lawyers reycling Eng.-only legal docs.

    For instance, High Street UK Solicitors regurgitate Wills, Leases, partnership agreements and conveyancing precedents as well as corresp. used for other of the firm’s clients, just changing names and addresses and a clause here or there.

    ‘Magic Circle’ City of London Sols. will take a whole corp. merger or acquisition file – or co. debenture trust deed – and just amend. Surely, some machine lang. – not trans. – repetition discount is warranted here,too.

  13. Re. recycling: AMM, it happens with German lawyers, too, especially for equity transactions. We’re often surprised at the amount of text that’s recycled across different law firms in offering prospectuses, M&A documents, and so on, I assume along the lines of “the exchange authorities didn’t object last time, so we’ll use it ourselves”.

    Doesn’t mean you need TM to translate the stuff, of course, cut ‘n paste does the job just as easily and far faster.

    The copyright issues involved in TMs are quite substantial and not IMHO adequately clarified. There’s now even an open market for buying and selling TMs – our customers would be horrified if they thought we were exploiting their proprietary material by selling it in repackaged TMs, and I don’t quite know what the legal implications are.

  14. Agree, Robin, about no TM = Translation Memory being needed to plagiarise.

    See also the website of the ITI = the UK Inst. of Trans. & Interpreting. No need to be a member to access – publication 019 – Recommended Model Gen. Terms of Business for Commissioned Trans. Work. Clause 14 – Copyright in Translations; incorporation of trans. into a TM system or any other corpus. Licence fee payable to the translator whose consent has to be sought. I remember this point, as I had a hand in drafting these terms at the prompting of a past ITI Chairman.

    However, there is nowt about the clients’ proprietary rights in such recycled material.

  15. And I think that it’s just those clients’ proprietary rights that have been more or less completely ignored here. Various companies are haring off to repackage TMs to sell on the market without considering who actually owns the material. Similar to the agencies who claim that they own what the translator provides them, and also what the client provides them!Only a court will be able to decide who actually owns what, I think, as IMHO there seems to be a certain amount of flouting of the “derivative art” principle and stretching what’s understood to be “new art”.

  16. I see the point, Robin.

    About segmentation: the problem arises for technical translators when they are given a translation and asked to do a new translation using a TM prepared by someone else (as might be happening to legal translators with your stuff): they will want to look at the whole thing for consistency and are asked to give discounts for repetitions, and also to use a previous translation they may not agree with. On the simplest level, an expression is not always translated the same way.

    In my case, I don’t give out my translation or use anyone else’s. I have recently done a job using Trados where I have surely given up rights in the TM and the statute will need regular updating.I see about the copying of boilerplate by solicitors.

  17. I’ve just realised that SDL used to be “Alpnet” ….the lowest payers on the block. So they paid their translators a pittance for years, saved their cash and bought up TRADOS…so that they can incorporate it in their product, force it on translators and make even more profit. I see dismal times ahead for the majority of translators….


  18. Paul, SDL *bought* Alpnet some time ago, surely, they didn’t actually start off life as Jaap van der Meer’s little moneyspinner.

  19. That’s right. Alpnet/Interlingua – my ex-employers – metamorphosed into SDL. A co. search for Alpnet UK Ltd shows up with a reg. office at SDL’s Maidenhead address.

    To be fair, Alpnet and predecessor incarnations did not pay its INHOUSE translators a pittance.
    There used to be pay rises in line with inflation, a performance bonus for beating monthly output targets, a co. executive pension scheme and a market salary paid for professionally qualified translators i.e. lawyers and engineers and for specialist language teachers.

    The recurrent take-over problem was no rake-off for us on the shop floor – or freelances – who built up the co.’s business and were not entitled to any goodwill payment. There was constant talk of setting up a co. employee shareholder and stakeholder scheme that would have sent a share premium on all of the take-overs our way and not into the fat-cat Chairman’s pocket, though nothing came of it.

  20. Well Robin…the invoice for the last job I ever did for Alpnet shows they paid me the grand sum of DM 1.20 per line. Whatever the buy-up situation was, there is still a “master plan” afoot here, be it by whomsoever, aiming at making the translation profession totally “hooked” on TRADOS or derivatives and forcing down the line rate to up profits regardless of quality and giving out the occasional TRADOS “fix” at the paltry price of a few hundred/thousand teuros. Certainly all of the cheapskate agencies are doing it (from what I hear from others): demanding that all jobs, whatever the subject and whatever the probability that a similar job will ever see the light of day, be done in TRADOS, forcing down the line rate, forcing translators to use sometimes appalling “pre-packaged and inappropriate” terminology and also farming out jobs to bidders at online translation auctions (PROZ.com for instance). I remember receiving a polite reply from some tinpot agency a while back saying that if I’d like to “bid” on PROZ.com, I might be “lucky” enough to get a job from them. This has to stop. The BDÜ should do something about this farce and stop translations being farmed out to incapable “housewives/househusbands” who think they are qualified translators. Fortunately I very rarely find myself in a situation where I have to tout for work. I’m of the opinion that this will all come to a head one day, mainly because of a quality crisis, and that things will revert back to a more sane approach, cheapskate agencies having been run off the planet due to so many comebacks about quality.

    So be it….


  21. Paul: The BDÜ should do something about it? You’re talking about the national T&I association that can’t even organise an annual conference. Isn’t that like asking the French to cut CAP subsidies? Or maybe we should institute a set-aside regime for cheap ‘n nasty agencies and translators to keep them out of the market. Now there’s a thought….

  22. Robin…I have always been of the opinion that the translation profession should be regulated. Anyone can put a plaster on someone’s finger but not everyone can remove someone’s prostate and still have a living patient. Some translations are critical and there should be some legal mechanism to ensure that translations are done by professionals and not amateurs. Of course the BDÜ is a joke and has virtually no clout, but who else could do it?


  23. Oh no – not that again!

    Who is to decide who is fit to be a professional translator – the people who gave us the University of Cooperative Education for Berufsakademie?

  24. Margaret: Any idea which bright spark actually did coin “university of cooperative education” for Berufsakademie? To me, the English term conjures up pictures of 19th century millworkers going along to the cooperative institutes for evening classes and betterment. Do Berufsakademien really have European recognition as “universities”. I’ve no problem with FHs calling themselves “university of applied sciences” or whatever because they *are* universities to all intents and purposes, and often (substantially) better than the official universities.

  25. Robin, actually, I have an odd feeling that someone confessed to me recently that he might have been responsible many years ago. The millworkers sounds like something out of D.H.Lawrence.

    I do believe the Berufsakademien, at least those in BW, are on a higher level than I originally thought (although Eurybase describes them as outside the higher education system:
    http://www.eurydice.org/Eurybase/frameset_eurybase.html). I agree with you about FHs and universities, particular in view of the ease with which a university qualification can apparently be got in Britain nowadays. But not the ‘applied sciences’ – that’s really rubbish.

  26. Heard on the TV last night (a BBC documentary shown on VOX): “The most powerful law of physics is the law of unintended consequences”.Maybe that explains why “trouble at’ mill” academies have something to do with SDL paying USD60m to take Trados off the market,

  27. Paul, Margaret’s blog is not really the best place to debate “Verkammerung” or not, but here are some thoughts anyway :-)
    Firstly, many of the “housewives/househusbands” are actually good translators, some of them (given the demographics of our profession) are even graduate translators.
    Secondly, if you want to institute some sort of closed shop, this will have to be on an EU-wide basis, and must necessarily involve examining every single translator in the business, in the form of translation exams pitched at a far higher level than e.g. ATA exams. Simply having a translation degree or other qualification is not enough – it’s no evidence whatsoever that you can actually translate. The professional exam system (which would have to be open to the whole world) would probably knock out a good 75% of translators working today, irrespective of qualifications.
    The next step would be to introduce proper professional qualifications for translation teachers, which again would knock out about 75% of those currently doing that job.

    Do you really, really think that the market – our customers – would give a flying f. for all this? I don’t, for one. And who’s going to pay for it? The “poor, starving translators”? Dream on…

  28. >>
    Do you really, really think that the market – our customers – would give a flying f. for all this? I don’t, for one. And who’s going to pay for it? The “poor, starving translators”? Dream on…

  29. Margaret: wasn’t that a fascinating documentary on lightening? I must say I do enjoy the BBC documentaries, even dubbed, and I wonder if we’ll be able to watch the originals when we finally get our larger sat dish and digital receiver so we can get the normal BBC channels.

  30. Paul: I’m perfectly aware that the German state examination is better than most translation degrees, but it’s still only a beginner’s qualification, and it’s only available in Germany. And I’ve come across plenty of people with the German state exam qualification who are just as bad as many of the inhabitants of ProZ.

    If you’re going to go down the examination route, you need exams that are firstly not state-run (let’s keep the state out of this, please), and secondly the equivalent of, say, chartered accountant or lawyer professional exams. Nothing less will do.

  31. Robin: No, I didn’t see it. I was just referring to the earlier anonymous comment apparently by you. But I do like those documentaries.

    Paul: there are some problems. The Staatsprüfung varies a lot from Land to Land – some don’t even have one. But translation is Land law. The Bavarian and Hesse exams can’t be all bad, because I passed them. But having tested in Bavaria for many years myself, I don’t think what it tests is exactly what is needed. And in any case, you need experience too.

    I think we did a reasonable job with taught languages. When I was in Darmstadt (I think), there was no college and all three Fachgebiete were tested orally by the same two examiners. And then there are all those other important languages that are not likely to be taught.

    I’m just waffling here, but to sum up, I think there are a lot of problems about testing translators.

  32. >>I’m just waffling here, but to sum up, I think there are a lot of problems about testing translators.

  33. Robin, Craig Morris confessed to some complicity in the translation of Berufsakademie. I quote a message on pt, with his permission:

    >>I happen to have been involved in the naming of the BA Lörrach: http://www.ba-loerrach.de/
    The German administration did not want to give it the designation Universität, but they did allow for University in English. The University of Cooperative Education is the official translation for it.
    >Sehr problematisch ist die Abschlußbezeichnung “Betriebswirt/in (BA)”. >Was genau ist das für ein Abschluß? Wie würdet ihr das aus deutscher
    >Sicht erklären?

    They are basically getting a bachelor’s in business admin. They spend part (I think half) of their time in companies, the other at the “Uni”. It’s a hands-on education.

  34. Yes, Robin, exactly the words I considered writing myself. Mandy Rice-Davies. (I recently saw an abbreviation for this phrase with MRD something, but I have forgotten it). Pretty conclusive, I would think.

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