Tools I Can’t Live Without as a Translator
Being a translator doesn’t mean opening a blank Word or Excel file and simply typing your translation in it.
Obviously, one of the main prerequisites to become a translator is to perfectly master a foreign language (and your native tongue), but you also need to know how to use various tools to deliver quality and consistent target texts.
Since I started off, there are a few of these tools I can now no longer live without.
1. Translation memories (or "TMs")
In my opinion, it is essential to store translations in a memory, regardless of the subject matter. Why?
- To guarantee consistency within one single project, especially the large ones (if you choose to translate a given term as “XYZ,” you have to do until the end)
- To be able to reference my past translations (even if projects are never the same, some terms you already translated in the past might come up again and you would need to stick to them)
▶️ I create a TM at the beginning of each collaboration with a new client, and I then “plug it” to every job I receive from them. I don’t only rely on the potential TM a client might share with me (as there is not necessarily any).
Antidote is a French (and English) spellchecker. Not only does it detect typos, it also tells you the below:
- When a phrasing is not grammatical
- When a term you used is too informal
- When you used too many repetitions
▶️ I can’t imagine delivering any project without having it analyzed by Antidote (running a spellchecker to make sure there is no typo left is basic professionalism).
3. ApSIC Xbench
Even if its design is not the most appealing, this Quality Assurance (QA) tool helps you spot the crucial following things (among others):
- Inconsistent translations (i.e., the exact same segment translated differently)
- Errors in numbers (e.g., “2002” instead of “2020”)
- Extra spaces (e.g., “My name is Laura”)
▶️ I use ApSIC Xbench with every project, independently of its size (we all know how the slightest mistake can easily make its way, unnoticed, through our work).
4. TERMIUM Plus
This tool is the Government of Canada’s terminology and linguistic data bank. It’s a very helpful terminological database which contains millions of terms in English and French, from various specialized fields.
▶️ I like it a lot because, being a Canadian tool, it suggests “real” French terms and not necessarily anglicisms. I indeed try to avoid using too many anglicisms myself (when applicable).
NB: I don’t endorse any of these tools specifically. I am simply telling you how I like to work.