Author: Eman Elbehiry

Technical Trainer at Future Group Translation Services, Freelancer Translator, and Content writer. LinkedIn:
10 Technical Skills for A Super Translator

10 Technical Skills for A Super Translator

Reading Time: 5 minutes

In a movie we all know, there is the protagonist when connects with technology, he upgrades. Iron man, the Transformers, The Matrix trilogy, for instance, heroes promoted their abilities with gadgets, software, and computer skills. Believe it or not normal human beings turn into superheroes! Yes, here are 10 skills to acquire to be a super translator.

In the new age of translation, an elevated style and diction will be no good if it’s not supported by a fast, advanced and efficient implementation.

  1. Touch typing

Writing is no longer part of the translation process, even the written texts are OCRed now. When typing took over, translators must take it to a farther step, touch typing, which we call touch typing. Touch typing will not only speed up the process of translation, but also will increase the productivity. Touch typing, with better accuracy could be mastered by practice and learning.

 Test your typing speed to see how far you want to improve.

You can improve it by taking this online course by Alsion.

  1. Keyboard command and shortcuts

You can save up to 30 minutes per day only if you knew how to utilize your keyboards better, how to copy, cut and paste, move between tasks and pages, and give some basic commands on Word.

  1. Translation tools
    CAT tools

CAT tools using, such as Trados, as a CAT tool example, and Xbench, as a quality assurance tool example must be acquired. No more of “I don’t work with CAT tools” thing, or “I want to work with the regular methods.” Or “I’m afraid of technology”. Yes we know that you’d like to go with your own unique style of translation, and you want to take your time processing. But actually, in today’s business, things must be done fast and perfectly. CAT tools help you to abide by the instructions of the client, work fast, and produce the closest translations to perfect translation. In addition to this, if you are working with a team, CAT tools will be your right hand to sustain consistency among you all, as working with translation memories and glossaries will increase your efficiency.

  1. Research skills

Unlike the past, now you have an online encyclopedia. But how to reach what you are seeking fast? This is question. A good translator must have their solid database, to include some trusted dictionaries, and good research specialized engines. You also need to be updated with google’s new features and free products.

Here Google is providing a course to power your research skills.

  1. Microsoft Office

Away from Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and their tips and tricks that help you work smarter, Microsoft excel and spread sheets are one of the skills you need to know, or how are you going to calculate your payment, or profit if you are a freelancer? Especially in the big projects.

Some basic knowledge about sums and numbers will do.

  1. Handling Computer Emergencies

Of course, IT problems were meant to be handled by the IT specialist. But at least  you need to have the basics to save yourself while you’re in medias res. You also got to be aware of all the features of your computer, and of the tools you are using. 

You also need to have a good idea of the terminology used in the industry, such as: extensions, online project, server, HTML, synchronize…, etc.

  1. Internet and email

“Accessible” is one of the magical merits that a client would like to witness dealing with his translator. That’s why, ways of online communication such as online calls, or chatting, or emailing are there. Consequently, a super translator will be active for any updates, new instructions, or edits the client might need. The client wants to feel saved before asking for help!

 Furthermore, you need to know how to write professional business emails, and how to communicate well if things went wrong or in case of emergencies.

Another thing is that, you need to be aware of the internet, how to reach what you are seeking, how to use it professionally. Simply, you know the where to go and the when to go.

Being online is a must-acquire skill, not to lose your clients and to enhance your knowledge and skills, even if  you don’t like to be online, or you’re techno-phobic.

 Speaking of online presence, we are lead to..

نتيجة بحث الصور عن ‪ONLINE PRESENCE‬‏

  1. Active online presence

Now, there are many websites and blogs that gather all translators to share and exchange their experiences, and to answer their questions, etc. You also need to be active on professional platforms like LinkedIn, and Proz.

  1. Computer security

I saw this with a friend of mine, while downloading a program, her laptop got infected by Ransom Virus, a virus that locks your access to your files and ask for money. That’s why you’d better be careful and choose trusted sites, powerful antivirus, and keep updating the windows and its firewall to protect you from malware and such. You must know how these things work, and how to secure your work and computer the best way possible. And ALWAYS know how to take a back-up of your files.

  1. Online learning

نتيجة بحث الصور عن ‪ONLINE LEARNING‬‏

Since the world is going digital and learning is part and parcel of the translator’s personality, you got to learn how to function on the e-learning websites. Online courses are saving of time, and they are taken in a better state of focus and purity to gain the utmost benefit out of the content. A translator is a full-time learner, right?

Moreover, you might want to learn the tools your client’s own tools. That’s why being opened  and adaptive for online learning and flexibility of using different tools are income generating.

To sum up, a translator with technical skills is a better-hire resource because simply they make the clients more comfortable and confident in delivering their business to an understanding, literate and reliable resource. Technology when connect promotes. So, UPGRADE!

How many skills of the 10 do you own? Tell us in the comments below.

Are you a Translator, or just a Speaker?

Are you a Translator, or just a Speaker?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

“I speak two languages, one is my mother tongue and the other worked on it through movies, songs, and some grammar books. I want to work as a translator, what can I do”, he asked.

That is a typical question of an amateur translator. Why? Because a translator is way far beyond just speaking two languages. Translation is not speaking two languages; it’s about mastering two languages. And here five skills a professional translator needs to master.


Just passed by a story published that goes like:

My first year in Campeche, Mexico, I was always complaining about the heat. The correct way to say this in Spanish is “Odio el calor.” I, however, kept making the verb reflexive: “Me odio.” This means “I hate myself.” Everyone must have thought I had a real self-esteem problem!
Having contemplated this situation, we will find that this person wasn’t really aware of the cultural context. It’s not necessary for something in your culture to mean the same in other cultures. That’s why you have to read more in this language history, culture, and contexts.


“To acquire knowledge, one must study;
but to acquire wisdom, one must observe.”

Observation is one of the most aiding skills as it, by time, facilitates the translator’s work and gives his work quality.  Observing the speakers of the languages your translating from and to gives you mastery over your translation and phrasing. Observation helps granting nativity.


Having many levels in speech and communication depending on the addressee and the addresser makes it necessary to vary your style of writing. You can’t buy your groceries speaking Shakespearean language. Pragmatically, everyone will laugh at you thinking that you are saying a joke.

That would even, wrongly, signify the background of the speaker. Is he coming from the medieval ages through time machine? What if he is illiterate? What if he has come from a Proletarian descendants? Would he say the same idioms and proverbs as a sophisticated educated professor?
Each and every character will communicate the way that tells about him. That is, they will definitely use different structures, different vocabulary, and different use of words. Consequently, you will have to tailor your translation with the same meaning that transfers the message of the speech with its reflection to the character.


Lately, Oxford Dictionary has changed the word “light” to “lite”, and added the word “roasting” to mean “Online bullying”. It also has labeled the word “fool” as an archaic words.

Language is a living organism, as it always evolves, develops, dies, and gets reborn. And so, the translators must evolve with it; otherwise, they simply will retreat unconsciously because he couldn’t cope with the trends, and the changes in the language.

The world is going digital, you will also need to learn the new technology of translation, such as: CAT tools, machine translation and other helping aids. You need to cope with the fast evolving market. And don’t worry, we will address that in the coming post, stat tuned!

Time Management

If Procrastination was the flaw of Hamlet in the old age, then it has never died if it’s the translator’s. Burning time within your work-time will burn you out. One of the most needed skills that translator should master is time management; and Organization is its key.

While you have many tasks to do, prioritize them over one another: the most urgent to the least important. Start with what motivates you to keep achieving. Eliminate distractions, like social media notifications that keep getting you out of the mood of creating. Don’t forget to give yourself a five-minute break every hour. That would help you to keep your mind focused and refreshed.


Know one thing about everything, and know everything about one thing. That where POWER relies.
Having a field that you expert in is what makes you reliable as a “subject matter expert”, where you points of strength appear.

How many skills of these do you master? Share them with us in the comments. And if you have any special skills, don’t forget that “sharing is caring”.

Did you lose hope in your past translations? Try again!

Did you lose hope in your past translations? Try again!

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Written by : Eman Ebehiry

After knowing more about the Translation memory, our assiduous translator starts lamenting his luck for not knowing it earlier. He looks at his work with pity for the loss of those past years of hard work, and his coming years of re-making what he already did.

But for one more time, technology saves the translator’s world, and offers him the solution: “The Alignment”.  What is translation alignment? How does it work? When would I use it? And why? What types of translation alignment are available? Are all question will be answered in the article.

First, translation alignment is the matching that we do between the source and its translation in the target in order to make a translation memory out of it. Simply it works through pairing the segments in its language pair; thus, it will be stored as units just like any translation memory. There are actually many ways of doing this. Furthermore, there are many tools that can get the job done, such as

A translator aligns his previously-translated material to build a database, instead of building one from scratch. It saves his time, and his previous work experience that might be repeated. But only the initial step of alignment that might take some time; as it may happen that the tool align some segments you have merged, or even split. So it’s closer to be giving probabilities. Hence, the human factor will be needed in reviewing and editing.

Now, what about trying to make your own alignment translation memory, and tell us about your experience?

You can learn to align your previous work from here via Trados.

Or if you have tried it already, share some of the benefits with us.

Translation Memory and Survival

Translation Memory and Survival

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Written by:  Eman Elbehiry

Homer and Langley Collyer, two brothers, were killed by “hoarding”, and storing things in their house. That led psychology scientists to categorizing this “hoarding” under “psychological disease” umbrella. But when it comes to Translation, sorry psychology! You’re wrong this time. Why? Because “Hoarding” is a big sign of perfectionism, and adulthood.

How many times did you looked at your outstanding translation and wished you could use it again? How many times have you came across a sentence that you bet your life that you have translated it before, but unfortunately you can’t remember in which file, or which project exactly? How many times have you translated similar texts, and wished for something that could help you get the job done in half of its time?
Though you are stuck in only “wishing”, hoarding and storing this translation has found its way to you through translation memories, TM.

While the CAT tool divides the whole text into segments, the translation memory becomes where all your translation is stored in units; exactly as it was saved either in sentences, paragraphs, headlines, or titles. Which means that it stores the segment with its language pair. Consequently, you can get back to it in the time of need. According to SDL description of the translation memory “When a translator’s jobs regularly contain the same kinds of phrases and sentences, a translation memory will drastically increase the speed of translation.” This makes it one essential component of any CAT tool par excellence.

Later, when you summon this translation memory to re-use this “stored” translation; it starts suggesting for you a translation. You can add and enhance this translation, you can modify it, or replace it with a better one. For the translation memory being so smart; it updates itself all through. It has whatever you added, and enhanced. If the translator accepted the exact suggested translation, the tool will choose to call this an exact match; which is percented as 100%.  We can see this crystal clear especially in the texts that include a lot of repeated patterns. Furthermore the minimum similarity between a new segment and a saved segment in TM varies from 99% to 50% depending on the similarity match is called “Fuzzy match”.

According to what we mentioned above, the translation memory is best fit for texts including repetitions, or similarities. Which means that it is most suitable for technical, and legal translations, for having specialized and repeated expressions and vocabularies. Moreover, if you are working on one project in a team, it is very possible that each translator have his own distinctive expressions, and vocabulary in his mind, but if you are working with one translation memory, your documents will be more coherent and cohesive, and you are always on the same track.
As a result to this, translation memory saves time and efforts, which results in reducing the cost of the long-termed projects. Therefore, by now, we agree that it provides the best quality possible, and it’s definitely unlimited.

            Genius ha! Wondering how it works? Here is a hint:
The mechanism is called “Edit Distance”. This mechanism’s role is to identify how dissimilar two entities (e.g words, segments, units) are. Thus, in the case of the fuzzy match, it tries to measure approximately how close these two patterns are, and consequently, suggests to the translators who have the power to accept or modify, so that it could improve itself.

            The translation memory allows you to use it hundreds of times, to include it in whatever project and keep updating it. But the question here is “What if I didn’t use it before, will my past treasure go in vain?” The answer is NO!
Actually you are allowed to “Align” the segments of your past work to make a translation memory out of it, we will explain that the alignment in another article. It will also be your own made-dictionary to search in your previous work for any terms, sentences. In addition to this, you will be able to share your translation memory, and use the shared-with you, so that you have a solid, and saving base. The reviewer can have a part of the share with you so you have everything updated, and flawless. This is seen usually in the online tools. And yes it happens to have a movement of exchanging translation memories. “Sharing is caring” right?!

            And here emerges another question, which is: What if I am using a specific tool, while my peers, or my reviewers are using another? How can I share with them my TM? Or how do they share theirs?
Now, there is an extension for sharing which is “TMx” (Translation Memory Exchange). This allows you to import and export the translation memory among many different tools. Never easier!

According to Martín-Mor (2011), the use of TM systems does have an effect on the quality of the translated texts, especially on novices, but experienced translators are able to avoid it.” And here we say to all translators, experienced or beginners, “hoarding” is not killing, and there is nothing better than hoarding and storing years of hard work embracing experience. This storing and hoarding is exactly “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.

Share with us a story in which you used a TM and it was super beneficial!

Why should you CAT tool your translation?

Why should you CAT tool your translation?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Written by:  Eman Elbehiry

As long as the early human was living, he searched for ways to survive, to facilitate life, to save time and energy, and to develop and move his life to another level. Thus, he worked his available tools like dry grass, leaves, and bark to make his first flame of fire. Since then he had an incredible power to make nature submit to his power. The early human taught us a lesson, in addition to this marvelous discovery; he taught us the skill of searching for what makes us win in our battle with time. The fire to the translator is CAT tools.

In the time the translator is fed up of going back and forth for what he translated before, to what he missed up in one file out of many and his desire to revise them all once again, CAT tools were there to give him a helping hand. In his time dreaming of something that can store his translation, his dictionaries, in addition to having grammar and spell checkers in one place, CAT tools were his fulfilling jinni. The term “CAT tools” stands for “Computer-Aided Translation”. As the name signifies, the computer helps and supports us in translation process through managing, organizing, checking the quality, and storing our translation. Having all these features does not mean that it translates on its own; on the contrary, as a translator, you do the work.

A CAT tool has some basic components: first, the translation memory, abbreviated as TM. This memory stores our translation in units to be restored in the time of need. Second, the dictionaries for retrieving words, and checking the spelling. Third, the Term-base: the term base is like a glossary for terms that has a long explanation put in a long cluster of words or in expressions. It also could have a thorough clarification for an abbreviation. It is highly important for specific translations like the medical, and the legal. Fourth, segmentation, and the segment isn’t actually a complete sentence. It could be a long sentence, a long statement, a complete paragraph. This division depends on the punctuation of the language. The tool divides the file to segments, each segment has its own organization, layout, and format which we call “tags”. Simply, the tool can help you copying the same format from the source to target, without going into the hustle of translation and formatting the text.

CAT tools are three types: the online, the offline, and the one that collects both, the “hybrid”. First, the online tools, like the “Smart CAT”; it helps in managing the workflow through establishing a shared platform with the team with a shared, updatable, translation memories. It also grants saving time because the translator, reviewer, and proofreader, can work in parallel. It also allows the manger to follow the progress of his team. Second, the offline tools, SDL Trados is one of the most leading tools in the market. The third one is like Memsource. It works both online and offline, and also update the translation memories, and the termbases.

As a result of these magnificent features, we can say that the CAT tools are a great addition to the industry. Big projects that are full repetitions are done with the highest performance possible. It would even facilitate the coming tasks by saving what you already translated. Furthermore, CAT tools in action grants you the best quality, with standardized terminology if you are working in a team. In addition to this, it can analyze your files word by word to be paid fairly.

Bottom line, CAT tools are great piece of technology that grants any quality with best quality and organization for preserving time, energy, and to keep all the members of the time on the same track of terminology, synonyms using the same glossary and expressions.

Here we give you some of the reviews about CAT tools. Caner K. who is a validated reviewer, and a verified current user of Trados says: “What business problems are you solving with the product? What benefits have you realized?

Most technical translations have repeating phrases and Trados makes it easier to translate these. So you save time by skipping translating the same words and sentences. It also makes collaborating on a long translation easier with a fellow translator. You can constantly share your translation memory with a colleague and make translating even more easier. The target text is usually more cohesive when two translators work on one text and the same translation memory.”

Ekaterina B. also is validated reviewer, and a verified current user of Trados says:”

What do you like best?
Trados is an essential tool for this business. It increases productivity and is a door opener when doing business with big clients.
The new UpLift capability is wonderful. Fragment matches have saved me so much time!”

About Matecat, one of the online CAT tools, Jorge Herran, a Spanish translator, says:

“It is an outstanding CAT tool, I have worked with SDL, Fluency, OmegaT and other CAT tools and in most cases this one allows me to work faster using a much better quality automatic translation as a base for my work, I still have to learn more about it, but so far, even if it lacks of many features, looks like a very promising CAT tool.”


What about you? Will you consider working with a CAT tool? Share with us your opinion!