Business, Translation


Tuomas Kostiainen explains the basics of memoQ.

New to MemoQ? Help is available for every learning style.

I had to get up early on Saturday, February 25, to catch the first flight from L.A. to San Francisco where I attended Tuomas Kostiainen’s NCTA memoQ workshop at the SFSU downtown campus.

Just in case you missed it: memoQ is a translation memory tool developed by the Hungarian company Kilgray Translation Technologies. I became aware of it around 2009, mainly through blog posts and tweets by translators located in Europe. The program was generally described as easy to use and competitively priced, but translators were most impressed, it seemed, with the rapid response of Kilgray to users’ support requests.

Two of my clients had adopted memoQ as their tool of choice, which motivated me to check out the software. I have been a long-time Trados user and got a solid start with that tool back in the 90s when one of my clients invited me to take part in their three-day in-house Trados training. With memoQ, I was on my own.

Getting started
It was not difficult to get started with memoQ. The company offers an Installation and Activation Guide as well as a Quick Start Guide. But then it gets a bit fragmented—although memoQ has extensive online help (also available as a PDF file). The company offers a number of webinars. There is a memoQ Yahoo group, and the annual memoQfest takes place in Budapest this year, May 8 to 11.

Everybody approaches working with software differently. Personally, I need to be able to understand and visualize the concepts that govern workflow and functions to use a program efficiently. I also don’t like online help; there is already enough happening on my computer screen. My ideal resource would be a book with introductions to concepts, a systematic tour of all menu options, and a great index. Alas, for memoQ, no such book exists.

At 9:30 am the participants had their laptops ready, and Tuomas started the workshop with a recap of general CAT tool concepts such as translation memory, translation unit, term base, exact and fuzzy matches. Since I knew many of those concepts only from Trados, it was very helpful that he pointed out where the implementation in memoQ differed from Trados, for example, that fuzziness of a match was calculated differently.

We then went through the steps of setting up a project, which in memoQ also means setting up (either creating or selecting) the translation memory and the term base. During these steps, it is very important to determine which path the software uses to store project files, translation memory files, and term base files. This is probably the place to give some thought to the overall organization of the translation files on your computer and to decide which organization of memoQ files makes the most sense.

MemoQ allows linking of more than one translation memory to a project. However, only one memory can be the primary memory, and only the primary memory is updated during translation. This means that translators have to strategize if they would like client-specific or project-specific memories and a memory combining all their translated segments.

Tuomas then addressed participant questions, such as how to export, import and edit memories. We learned about the usefulness of memory descriptions such as client name or subject area that allow us to filter out subsets of larger memories. There were frequent references to the Kilgray webinars that deal with many different topics, such as compatibility with non-memoQ users.

The user interface is busy and shows not only the translation grid with the segments that need translation, but also a large area with matches found in the translation memories, fragments that might be useful for the translation, term base hits, matches found in on-line terminology and much more. There is also a preview area. If the document being translated is an MS Office document, the preview shows the translation as it will appear.

It is possible to size the various UI areas and the Settings menu allows switching certain parts on or off. There is extensive color-coding for the different sources of translations, terms or fragments, and there are shortcuts to quickly use any of the offered solutions.

After lunch, we started with the hands-on part of the workshop. We translated two prepared documents and tried out how to apply the different translation suggestions that memoQ offers to users. Tuomas touched on the options for spellchecking, concordance search, automatic propagation, Live Docs, and many other functions. He suggested the online webinars on the Kilgray site for getting more in-depth information. We spent quite a bit of time on the very important subject of tags and explored ways of working with them efficiently.

Imports and exports
One of my questions involved exchanging documents with editors and proofreaders and how to incorporate their changes, not only into the deliverable document but also into the translation memory. We found out that it is possible to export the translation in bilingual form, either as a two-column RTF document or as a Trados-compatible bilingual document. Upon return from an editor, the document can be re-imported with its changes.

I found it useful that Tuomas followed up on most of our questions and did not insist on sticking strictly to his manuscript. I had several aha! moments during the detours from the pre-planned presentation. To me, the workshop was incredibly useful, and I hope for a similar one on the next level of memoQ

Refreshments at this workshop were sponsored by Kilgray Translation Technologies; the company also offered participants an exclusive discount on memoQ software purchased within 30 days of the workshop. MW