Business, Translation


A pro spreads the word – but not too fast – about Wordfast Pro.

Before 9 AM on Saturday March 19th, I sat with seven other translators at the SFSU downtown campus, eagerly waiting to become an expert on how to use Wordfast Pro, the self-proclaimed “Number 1 translation memory software for any platform.” The all-day Wordfast Pro For Beginners workshop promised to teach us how to set up and use the general features of this popular CAT tool through a hands-on project-based approach. Our leader, John Di Rico, is a French to English translator specializing in finance and marketing since 2005, and a certified Wordfast trainer. His current business, ApexTra, is located in Nice, France and Tallinn, Estonia.

After introductions, we quickly got down to business, as there was a lot to learn. We first were shown how to switch between the translator’s view (showing a bilingual file in txml format), and the Project Manager view, allowing such actions as extracting frequents, cleanup, split/merge, show/hide 100%, etc. We also learned that the typical two-column table format, with the source in the left column and the target in the right, can be toggled to a text view similar to the Trados 2007 presentation, which might come in handy when one has to deal with those never-ending sentences often found in legal texts.

As we prepared to start our projects, John promised us he would only go as fast as the slowest person in the room, and throughout the workshop he made sure that nobody was ever left behind. We first learned about project creation: how to name projects in a consistent manner, how to add an existing translation memory (TM) or create a new one, and where to store TMs. We then learned how to complete a file analysis, which should be done before accepting any new project. A file analysis gives a detailed word count, including 100% and fuzzy matches from the TM, repeats, etc., which is essential not only to negotiate a price but also to evaluate how long the project will take to complete. File analysis can be used at any time during the course of the translation to have an idea of one’s progress.

At last everything was set up for us to do what we were all looking forward to: translating! Armed with several short translation samples, we learned how to handle tags, how to get matches from or look up specific terms in the TMs (set as read-only), how to commit translated segments to the writable TM, how to copy source segments, multiple ways to run a spellcheck, how to commit all segments to the writable TM immediately after editing, and finally how to save the file. Then we were on to quality control, which in Wordfast is called Transcheck. John showed us how to tweak the settings, how to create or select a glossary, and how to use glossaries during the translation process. Finally, we were very attentive as John showed us how to have a file pre-translated by machine translation (MT) on Wordfast Pro for post-editing. Wordfast Pro has three built-in MT tools: WordLingo, which is free and immediately available (but not the best), Microsoft, which is also free but requires set-up, and Google Translate, which is not free and requires codes.

Reassuringly, Wordfast Pro turned out to be a quite an intuitive and uncomplicated CAT tool able to handle a variety of file formats, and is ideal even for technophobes. As a person used to clicking a mouse for everything on the computer, I am now trying to apply the other lesson I got from the workshop, which is to use Wordfast Pro keyboard shortcuts for many frequently used commands. As well as saving me dozens of hours in the long term, who knows, it might also save me from developing carpal tunnel syndrome. ACG