by Nora Díaz
With ever-increasing pressures to produce high-quality work under tighter deadlines, tools that help translators work faster and more efficiently are a welcome addition to our toolbox. This article will provide an overview of three such tools: one for speech recognition, one for CATtool integration and one for custom shortcuts and macros.
Dragon Professional Individual: The Gold Standard in Speech Recognition
With speech recognition software such as Dragon, translators can dictate their translations instead of typing them. Benefits of dictation include relief for tired and aching joints, improved concentration, and increased output, as dictation tends to be faster than typing. Dictation also allows you to not only see but also hear the target text as it’s being dictated, which can prove helpful in audiovisual translation.
How does it work? Once installed, Dragon allows you to dictate at the active cursor position, in any program. In addition to dictation, Dragon Professional Individual includes out-of-the-box commands that can be used to control many popular programs, such as Microsoft Word. Dragon is both fast and accurate, two undeniably desirable characteristics in any speech recognition solution. But what makes it stand out from other options is its customizability.
Words and phrases with special capitalization or an unusual pronunciation can quickly be added to Dragon’s already large vocabulary, previous documents can be used to let Dragon learn the user’s vocabulary and writing style, and new commands can be created to perform custom actions.
Speech recognition is a powerful input method to add to every translator’s toolbox, but audiovisual translators may particularly appreciate the benefits of this alternative to typing.
SDL Trados Studio Subtitling Plug-In
This is not a standalone tool, but rather a plug-in available for free to SDL Trados Studio users. Translating subtitles in Trados can help maintain consistency with previous translations and give the translator the time-saving benefits of AutoSuggest, which uses the contents of translation memories, termbases, AutoSuggest dictionaries and AutoText entries to save keystrokes.
How does it work? After downloading the Subtitling Plug-In from the SDL App Store and installing it, open the subtitle file in Trados and load the associated video file. This allows you to translate in Trados, leveraging all its resources, while having the benefit of the video preview and audio waveform, all in the Trados interface. The plug-in adds new verification options to Trados, which will trigger warning or error messages when the characters per second, words per minute, characters per line or lines per subtitle thresholds are exceeded. These thresholds are, of course, customizable. A subtitling data window provides at-a-glance information for each segment/subtitle, such as start and end times, start and end frames, character and word counts, words per minute, characters per second, characters per line and lines per subtitle. It also highlights issues in dark red or any other user-selected color. Lastly, while the SDL Trados Studio Subtitling Plug-In is not a spotting tool and cannot be used to create a subtitle file from scratch, it does allow you to modify subtitle start and end times if needed.
If you receive properly formatted source subtitle files and associated videos and are asked to either translate or proofread the subtitles, the Subtitling Plug-In provides both time-saving and quality assurance capabilities.
AutoHotkey: A Little Magic Wand for Shortcuts and Macros
Every translator knows that shortcuts save time, and every program comes with its own shortcuts, which can usually be customized. But what about those actions or sequences of actions that have no preset shortcuts? With AutoHotkey, you can create your own shortcuts or macros for any program, and even a sequence of steps that starts in one program and continues in a different one.
How does it work? AutoHotkey is a free program that is used to run scripts, or little programs, created by users. After downloading and installing AutoHotkey, the next step is to run a script that someone else has provided or to create a new script. Scripts are plain text files with the extension .ahk. Running an existing script is as simple as double-clicking the file in Windows Explorer. This loads the script, activating the shortcuts or actions contained in it.
Creating a new script requires understanding AutoHotkey syntax. This can be a bit daunting for non-programmers, but even some basic knowledge can go a long way to create time-saving productivity boosters. For example, a translator could have an AutoHotkey script to switch focus between the audio waveform and the Edit Box in Aegisub without using the mouse, a feature that is not provided by the program out of the box. Another use case would a script that, after pressing a user-selected hotkey, such as Alt+G, copies the selected text to the clipboard, minimizes the current program, opens Google Chrome, pastes the contents of the clipboard into the search bar and presses Enter.
While AutoHotkey has a bit of a learning curve, it takes only minutes to install the program and start using a script created by a colleague, or one of the many scripts available online. An investment of two hours to learn the basics of creating scripts can result in high productivity and efficiency benefits, all tailored to your needs.
These are not the only tools available to support the work of audiovisual translators, but for those interested in seeing improved productivity and efficiency, they are a great starting point.
Nora Díaz completed a B.A. in Linguistics and Translation in 1990. Since then, she has worked as an English-to-Spanish translator and interpreter in a variety of fields, specializing in scientific and technical translation. As a technology enthusiast interested in enhancing productivity, Nora enjoys exploring tools that facilitate the work of translators and sharing her findings with others through her blog, Nora Díaz on Translation, Teaching and Other Stuff, and in webinars and training sessions. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org