Jost Zetzsche: Tool Kit newsletter

Jost Zetzsche produces a biweekly newsletter on computer tools for translators (biweekly here means every two weeks). There is a fuller version for $15 p.a., and also The Translator’s Tool Box as a $50 password-protected PDF file (table of contents etc. as PDF). I’ve only used the free version so far, but the quality suggests the money wouldn’t be wasted.

Incidentally, the idiosyncratic TEnT means Translation Environment Tool (what we call CAT). It took me ages to find that out!

12 thoughts on “Jost Zetzsche: Tool Kit newsletter

  1. So still no need for native English speakers who can translate from the Scandinavian languages and Dutch?

    Actually, the last time I looked at a job ad for one of the Commission’s ‘competitions’ – and let’s face it, the whole application system seemed odd and a little unclear to my friends and me – was in the mid-90s. They basically said that if you couldn’t translate from French, you didn’t have a chance.

    Now I’d be too old to start at their graduate level, and nowhere near experienced enough to start at one of their higher levels.

    If the Commission and other bodies design their application procedure in such a way that it puts off or prevents otherwise well qualified and suitable candidates from applying, then they really don’t have the right to complain about not being able to get the right people.

    As for applicants from British universities not being good enough: to be honest, I suspect that’s often the case. Their only exposure to the language is typically on their year abroad, often divided between two countries, resulting in maybe five months in one country and four in the other. The teaching of foreign languages at British universities is often pitiful. And the students graduate with a BA at the age of 22. They’re rarely masters of the language(s) they’ve studied, from what I can tell. But I wouldn’t say that’s unique to the UK.

    • Yes, of course they may not be good enough, whether before or after doing a diploma in translation. I still think the article has an air of madness about it.
      I seem to recall that you need at least two EU languages.
      Apart from anything else, there is more incentive for non-native speakers to learn English and it’s easier for them to immerse themselves in it than for native speakers living in the UK (TV, radio, press, films).

      • Just came across this while researching something else. It seems relevant, as it indicates that such matters are problems elsewhere, too. (OK, it’s not specifically about translators, but the basic idea is the same.)

        – Mange danske virksomheder kan tale engelsk og tysk, men de har langt fra altid kompetencerne til at tale et professionelt forhandlingssprog, m

  2. MrD’s Scandinavian and Dutch/’Belgian Flemish’ point took the words out of my mouth. Up to 30 years ago, a Dutch-into-English applicant could, on retirement of the ECJ’s sole translator in that language direction, could – according to an ex-ECJ translator – be assured of recruitment.

    Also, the arbitrary pass rate of 20% of British applicants – presumably Irish/North and South/applicants have a higher rate – may be a reflection on the unpredictable no-Scots-law-please examiners, rather than on the candidates.

    I once heard an Englishman-translator from the European Parliament in Strasbourg claiming that many UK lawyers coud not translate. When I asked what his own legal qualifications were, he said he didn’t have any.

    So those sitting in judgment (judgement being the Scottish spelling)should remember how the word hypocrisy is spelled or spelt.

  3. Not often you find a Murdoch newspaper relaying the concerns of the European Commission so uncritically. Could it be the spectre of educational decline is an even bigger bugbear for them than Brussels bureaucrats!?

    Anyhow, if there are “linguists from Spain and Greece” or wherever willing and able to do the job it’s hard to see what the problem is.

    The Guardian had something similar on interpreting a few months ago (which I blogged) – a better article, though equally unconvincing: I mean, if you’re finding it hard to attract recruits surely the last thing you’d want to do is cut the rate of pay specifically for newcomers, which is what they’ve just gone and done, effective as of 1 September next.

  4. Yesterday, record A-level results in E&W were announced, plus the number of candidates taking Mod. Langs., except German, was up. We’ll see what Scottish ‘Highers’ have produced.

    As a non-Guardian reader, I see no problem in cutting an already astronomical level of pay crowned with a surfeit of holidays and with no compulsion to translate EU laws or ECJ judgments for 2 years or more, leaving the rest of us non-skivers to chew on such jobs in the summer months.

    • Have we not discussed this before? These are translators for the European Commission, so they do not translate ECJ judgments (those translators have a legal qualification), and as for the laws, I don’t think those are done by the translation staff at all, but are all cooked up in a variety of ways – they aren’t even seen as translations, but as parallel originals, I suppose.

  5. They’re scouring Blighty for people who can speaky the Foreign? Like Aidan, I find that an odd place to look.

    But with rusty French and severely eroded Zwedish to top off my diploma’ed Dutch, I’m probably not what they’re looking for either.

  6. Well, things must have changed since I took the European Commission exams in London 30 years ago. Only law graduates or lawyers were allowed to take that specific test. There were 3 translation tests from 2 compulsory foreign lingos plus one optional lingo into English. 2 papers were legal, one about penal reform – and the 3rd was a general text.

    The standard of the other (!) candidates was very high. So the emphasis is – not even today – on scouring Blighty but finding linguistically qualified UK professionals, in any walk of life, of the right young age and who want to switch to the full-time drudgery of translating and interpreting day in, day out, week in, week out.

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