Volume 10, No. 4 
October 2006

  Pablo Muñoz Sánchez

Front Page  
Select one of the previous 37 issues.

Index 1997-2006
TJ Interactive: Translation Journal Blog

  Translator Profiles
A Career in European Translation
by Emma Wagner
Interview with Gabe Bokor
by Verónica Albin

  The Profession
The Bottom Line
by Fire Ant & Worker Bee
The Power of Saying "No"
by Danilo and Vera Nogueira
Educating the Customer
by Brett Jocelyn Epstein

  Translators Around the World
Translating Freud: A Historical Experience
by Leandro Wolfson
Certification Programs in China
by Jianjun Zhang

  TJ Cartoon
Great Moments in Languages—Voice of Translator
by Ted Crump

  Translation Nuts & Bolts
Translation of Vietnamese Terms of Address and Reference
by Thanh Ngo
Dealing with Abbreviations In Translation
by Adetola Bankole

  Language & Communication
"Heads I win, Tails You Lose": Logical Fallacies and Ethics in Everyday Language
by Elena Sgarbossa, M.D.

  Book Review
Dictionary Review: Hungarian Practical Dictionary
by Catherine Bokor, Ph.D.
Book Review: Corinne McKay’s How to Succeed as a Freelance Translator
by Eve Lindemuth Bodeux

  Cultural Aspects of Translation
Connotation and Cross-cultural Semantics
by Salah Salim Ali

  Legal Translation
Incongruity of Company Law Terms: Categorization of Polish Business Entities and their English Equivalents
by Łucja Biel, Ph.D.

  The Related Arts
Adding Value to Translation with DTP Partnership
by José Henrique Lamensdorf

Spanglish: To Ser or Not to Be? That is la cuestión!
by Eduardo González, Ph.D.

  Translators Education
Translation As an Aid in Teaching English as a Second Language
by Valeria Petrocchi

  Translators' Tools
Electronic Tools for Translators in the 21st Century
by Pablo Muñoz Sánchez
Translators’ Emporium

  Caught in the Web
Web Surfing for Fun and Profit
by Cathy Flick, Ph.D.
Translators’ On-Line Resources
by Gabe Bokor
Translators’ Best Websites
by Gabe Bokor

Letters to the Editor

Translators’ Events

Call for Papers and Editorial Policies

  Translation Journal

The Translator & the Computer  

Electronic Tools for Translators in the 21st Century

by Pablo Muñoz Sánchez

1. Introduction

he profession of translator is gaining in popularity. Consequently, there has been a significant increase in the number of academic institutions all around the world that offer translation programs to train prospective translators. In addition, there are also many recent studies dealing with the improvement of translator training models which take into account not only the trainees' translation competence, but also the market demands (Muñoz Martín, 2002; Pym, 2003; Reineke and Sánchez Muñoz, 2005; Rico Pérez, 2002; etc.). Other works refer to the vital role that technology plays for translators in the present era (Biau Gil and Pym, 2006), and to the new professional, the translator/localizer (Gouadec, 2004). As can be concluded for the above, translators have switched from pencil and paper to more effective and sophisticated electronic tools.

Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) software is helpful to translators, since it speeds up the translation process either with the help of translation memories when working with very repetitive texts or using translation software for texts written using controlled language (Nyberg, Mitamura and Huijsen, 2003). Terminology management tools also have a valuable applicability when working on big translation projects. However, CAT tools are seldom sufficient for obtaining a final product. They do help translators in their task, but do not create, from scratch, the specific format the client asks for. While the Microsoft Word format may be considered a standard in most cases, in the real world clients also want translations with a fancy, well-designed layout, PDF being the preferred file format. Of course, they can always contact other professionals to undertake this task, but a translator capable of delivering a really finished translation will be eligible for complex assignments while others may only bed able to apply for jobs which 'only' require translating.

Translation software has been the subject of many authors in recent years. For instance, Somers (2003) presents an overview to the different software packages that translators must deal with in their everyday work, although he does not describe any specific tool in particular, unlike Dohler (1997) and Nogueira (2002). Austermühl (2001) gives more details about certain CAT tools such as Trados, as well as he provides a useful list of Internet resources in each chapter of his book. However, these studies lack a realistic professional approach because they are mainly focused on CAT tools, without mentioning other tools commonly used such as image editors or PDF tools. The aim of this paper is thus to overcome these shortcomings, presenting a quick overview of a wide variety of electronic tools for Windows which make the translation process easier and faster and of which translators should have a good command in order to satisfy today's market demands.

2. Electronic Tools for Translators

First of all, it is necessary to consider the software licenses restricting the use of a program and its cost. There are principally two categories of licensing schemes: open-source/free software and closed-source/proprietary software. The programs listed in this paper—apart from Internet resources—are of one of the following types:

  • Commercial: Commercial software is computer software sold for commercial purposes generally in retail shops or on the Internet.
  • Free: Free software, as defined by the Free Software Foundation, is software which can be used, copied, studied, modified and redistributed without restriction. Although this type of software is usually available at no cost, free should be understood as free (of freedom) and not as free of charge.
  • Freeware: Copyrighted computer software which is made available for use free of charge and for an unlimited time.
  • Shareware: As opposed to freeware, the user has to pay after some trial period which is usually no longer than 30 days.

2.1. Word Processors

Word processors are the main tools for translators. They allow the translator to easily type a translation. In addition, clients often ask for word processor file formats, Microsoft Word format (.doc) being the most popular. Spelling and grammar checkers are also important subprograms of word processors. There are, however, other good spell checkers such as Aspell (http://aspell.sourceforge.net/, free) apart from those built into word processors.

Another useful feature of word processors is that they can count the total number of words in a document, although there are other utilities like CATCount (http://www.catcount.com/, freeware), which facilitate the task of word counting in CAT jobs, and AnyCount (http://www.anycount.com/, shareware), which can count words in RTF, HTML or PDF documents among others.

Nowadays, the word processors which enjoy most popularity are Microsoft Word (http://office.microsoft.com/word/, commercial) and OpenOffice.org Writer (http://www.openoffice.org, free), although a good alternative which is gaining in popularity is AbiWord (http://www.abisource.com, free).

2.2. Electronic Dictionaries and Encyclopaedias

One of the translator's basic skills is reading and writing proficiency in both source and target languages. Nevertheless, since even native speakers do not have full mastery of their languages, it is understandable that translators need to look up reference sources to solve their terminology and spelling problems. Electronic dictionaries have the advantage of speed and convenience of lookup, and portability over their printed counterparts.

English bilingual and monolingual electronic dictionaries like those of Oxford or Collins—available on CD-ROM—should be borne in mind when working with English, thanks to their capability of being searched for expressions and collocations using boolean operators. For instance, if you look for "serves AND you AND right," the search will return the term serve and will highlight the serves you right definition. Another interesting feature is that you can read and hear the pronunciation of most entries.

Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary and Thesaurus (http://www.m-w.com) can be accessed online freely, albeit only its CD-ROM version has a boolean-based search. Each entry has the following fields apart from the entry and definitions: pronunciation (you can also hear it), function (e.g. verb), and etymology. In addition, hypertext links allow the user to navigate quickly between the different entries.

WordReference (http://www.wordreference.com/) is a good and free choice when working with different language pairs such as Spanish, French, Portuguese, or Italian. It offers bilingual and monolingual dictionaries, as well as synonyms dictionaries. In addition, its forums (http://forum.wordreference.com/) and sub-forums for specific languages like German or Arabic may be helpful with vocabulary or expressions in a given language.

With regard to electronic encyclopaedias, Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.org) is considered by many Internet users as the best one at the moment, since all its articles are written by people from all around the world. This may lead to an a priori assumption of poor reliability, but recent studies show that Wikipedia comes close to Britannica in terms of the accuracy of its science entries (Giles, 2006). Moreover, it is important to note that, since users are the ones who create or edit the content of the articles, you can find information about a wide variety of topics that do not appear in other commercial encyclopaedias. Wikipedia is in constant evolution, so the content of the articles is generally up-to-date. Last but not least, Wikipedia articles are written in many languages, although English articles usually cover more topics.

2.3. Tools for the Internet

2.3.1. Web Browsers

The Internet is the transport vehicle for the information stored in files on another computer. The majority of these files are available on the World Wide Web, a network of sites that can be searched and retrieved by a special protocol known as HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP). In order to surf through these sites, it is necessary to use a web explorer known as "browser." Nowadays, the most popular browsers are Internet Explorer (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/default.mspx, freeware), Mozilla Firefox (http://www.mozilla.com/firefox/, free) and Opera (http://www.opera.com/, freeware). In addition to web surfing, these browsers present some characteristics that make net surfing more comfortable. For example, Mozilla Firefox has a pop-up blocker—a pop-up is a window with adds which appears from nowhere—a toolbar which allows the user to do searches in Google or Wikipedia among others, and also lets the user to navigate through tabs, that is, to load Web pages in separate tabs of a single browser window to jump between them quickly and easily. Customized plug-ins and toolbars can be added to most other browsers, as well.

2.3.2. E-mail Software

The advent of the Internet has virtually replaced the traditional letter with the electronic mail or e-mail. Most Internet users use free webmail e-mail services such as Hotmail, Yahoo! or Gmail, but to keep track of inbox messages and have them organized, it is better to use an e-mail application like Microsoft Outlook (http://www.microsoft.com/outlook, commercial), Mozilla Thunderbird (http://www.mozilla.com/thunderbird/, free) or Eudora (http://www.eudora.com/, shareware). These e-mail clients help their users to manage all their e-mail POP3 accounts and retrieve e-mails from a remote server. On the other hand, it is also possible to download messages from webmail accounts thanks to FreePOPs (http://www.freepops.org, free), a piece of software able to download e-mail from most webmail services.

2.3.3. Search Engines

Translators frequently need to research the topics they work with, and the best they can do to overcome their lack of knowledge in a specific field is to consult a search engine as Google (http://www.google.com) or AltaVista (http://www.altavista.com). If need be, translators can also consult specialized literature using Google Scholar (http://scholar.google.com/). In any case, translators have to use their common sense to decide whether a result is relevant and whether the information is reliable. Search engines use boolean operators to search the selected terms through the Web, and this is why a good search strategy is necessary in order to obtain the desired document—the better the strategy, the better the results will be. Hoefman (2004) gives some tips to refine searches with Google. Some useful commands for solving terminology problems are to enter the following in the Google search box: (a) define: term; (b) term + glossary; (c) term means.

2.3.4. Specialized Databases

There are also plenty of information that search engines cannot retrieve—the so-called "Invisible Web." Most of the Invisible Web is made up of the contents in thousands of specialised searchable databases. Some medical and scientific online databases are the Web of Knowledge (http://portal.isiknowledge.com/portal.cgi?SID=S2mPC22eH@OLj55PBgi), ProQuest (http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?RQT=302&COPT=REJTPTE1NDAmU01EPTQmSU5UPTImVkVSPTI=&clientId=54638&cfc=1), SCOPUS (http://www.scopus.com/scopus/home.url), and PubMed (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?CMD=Limits&DB=PubMed). Unfortunately, the vast quantity of documents hosted in these databases can be only accessed by means of institutions' computers such as universities given their high subscription costs.

2.3.5. Chats and Other Online Communication Systems

Although communicating with people using "chats" may seem only reserved for teenagers, it must be taken into account that due to the use of new technologies it is now possible to exchange ideas and opinions in real time with other translators or specialists thanks to instant messaging clients like MSN Messenger (http://messenger.msn.com/, freeware) or Gaim (http://gaim.sourceforge.net), free). Furthermore, the recent application of the VoIP technology is a further step in today's communication scene. Thus, thanks to Skype (http://www.skype.com/, freeware), one can be in touch with other translators or clients in real time wherever they are.

2.3.6. Blogs

The blogosphere revolution means that every single person who owns a computer with Internet access has the oportunity to talk about and publish no matter what just with a few clicks. A blog can be created by following some easy steps in a free weblog publishing system as Blogger (http://www.blogger.com/). Obviously, only a small part of blogs are online diaries, since there are blogs for almost every topic one can imagine. Some recommendations are Translation Notes (http://transnotes.blogspot.com/, in English and Spanish), Slashdot (http://www.slashdot.org/, science and computer related news), Versión Española (http://www.filmica.com/eva_ruiz/, audiovisual translation blog in Spanish), Naked Translation (http://www.nakedtranslations.com/fr/blog.php/, professional translation topics in French), and Curioso Pero Inútil (http://www.curiosoperoinutil.com/, curious science topics in Spanish). Web feeds provide web content together with links to the full versions of it stored in a XML file called "RSS feed." As blogs are updated quite often, it is advisable to install an RSS aggregator like ReadFeeder (http://www.feedreader.com/, free) since web feeds allow a website's frequent reader to track updates on the site by using them.

2.4. Image Editors

Text may be the only element that composes a short fiction story, but that is not the case of websites, magazines or textbooks to cite some examples. Therefore, translators should know how to edit the images that constitute a full product, so translators are expected to have some basic image editing skills in order to undertake a translation job which deals with graphics. Microsoft Paint is very limited, albeit useful for really basic edits, so professionals working with complex graphics should be aware of the existence of image editors such as Photoshop (http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop/, commercial), Paint Shop Pro (http://www.corel.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=Corel3/Products/Display&pfid=1047024307383&pid=1047025487586, shareware), PhotoFiltre (http://www.photofiltre.com/, freeware) and The GIMP (http://www.gimp.org/, free). For those who work constantly with images, it would also be recommended to use a graphic viewer like ACDSee (http://www.acdsee.com/, shareware), IrfanView (http://www.irfanview.com/, freeware), XnView (http://www.xnview.com/, freeware) or Picassa (http://picasa.google.com/, freeware).

2.5. CAT Tools

2.5.1. Translation Memory Systems

As explained before (cf. 1. Introduction), the translation process may be sped up depending on the text type by using translation memories. Basically, the purpose of a translation memory is to allow translators to leverage previous translations, that is, to re-use text parts that have been already translated and as such can be used in the process of translating new documents. One must be aware of the pros and cons of using a translation memory prior to starting a translation, as they can also slow down the translation process in non-repetitive texts such as novels, in which case creativity is more important than terminological consistency. The most popular translation memory system nowadays is SDL Trados (http://www.trados.com/, commercial), which is the program that most clients demand. However, there are other cheaper tools like Wordfast (http://www.wordfast.com/, commercial) or DéjàVu (http://www.atril.com/, commercial), and even free alternatives such as OmegaT (http://sourceforge.net/projects/omegat). Most CAT tools are designed to work with word processor documents, but some can also handle PowerPoint presentations and other formats.

2.5.2. Terminology Tools

Terminological consistency should be of utmost importance when translating in group and/or dealing with a big translation project. For this reason, it would be ideal if terminologists could analyze the source text and build a glossary before translating to prevent last-minute terminology changes once the translation process has already begun. In order to do so, terminologists use term-extraction and concordance tools such as WordSmith Tools (http://www.lexically.net/wordsmith/, commercial; version 3.0 is freeware), TextStat (http://www.niederlandistik.fu-berlin.de/textstat/software-en.html, free) and AntConc (http://www.antlab.sci.waseda.ac.jp/antconc_index.html, freeware). To build glossaries and multilingual terminological databases, the best choice is to use terminology management tools as MultiTerm (http://www.trados.com/products.asp?page=22, commercial) or TermStar (http://www.star-group.net/eng/home.html, commercial).

2.5.3. Web Localization Tools

Having a multilingual website is one of the key factors to reach as many potential clients as possible, and that is the reason why web localization has gradually become a sought-after service in today's market. While HTML knowledge is not a must thanks to poweful WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) HTML editors like Dreamweaver (http://www.adobe.com/products/dreamweaver/, commercial) and NVU (http://www.nvu.com/, free), translators are well advised to become familiar with the HTML syntax. A good introduction to HTML and other mark-up languages such as XML can be found in the W3School site (http://www.w3schools.com/). Nonetheless, there are CAT tools which not only preserve the original layout by avoiding the modification of HTML tags by mistake, but also make it possible to use glossaries or translation memories, and allow the user to see both the source and target texts at the same time and preview the translation in a browser. Trados TagEditor and Catscradle (http://www.stormdance.net/software/catscradle/overview.htm, freeware) are the reference CAT tools for web localization.

2.5.4. Software Localization Tools

Making a mistake when localizing a website is not as serious as in software localization, because losing the original format of the original webpage cannot be compared with a program not responding as it is supposed to or, in the worst case, failing to run. Therefore, in order to translate software, it is necessary to deal with localization tools to either extract all menu, window and message strings in a single resource file or to edit such content with a WYSIWYG localization toolkit. The leading CAT tools for software localization are Alchemy Catalyst (http://www.alchemysoftware.ie/products/catalyst.html, commercial) and Passolo (http://www.passolo.com/, commercial); other alternatives include Resource Hacker (http://www.angusj.com/resourcehacker/, freeware), PE Explorer (http://www.heaventools.com/, shareware) and eXeScope (http://hp.vector.co.jp/authors/VA003525/emysoft.htm#6, shareware).

For those who wish to localize videogames, it is important to note that many companies place all text strings into spreadsheets. Consequently, a good command of spreadsheet editors such as Microsoft Excel (http://www.microsoft.com/Excel/, commercial) or OpenOffice.org Calc (http://www.openoffice.org/, free) is necessary to localize this kind of entertainment products.

2.5.5. Subtitling Tools

Audiovisual translation is one of the most appealing modalities of translation, as many young translators prefer to translate a film rather than a legal contract. However, dubbing and subtitling pose several challenges to the translator of films, because it is necessary to be very creative to synchronize the lip movements with the translation or, in the case of subtitling, to leave the audience enough time to read the subtitles. There is a wide range of tools for subtitling, which is the preferred method of translation in countries such as Greece, Belgium or the Nederlands. Surprisingly, many of these applications stem from amateur subtitlers—known as fansubbers2—who subtitle TV shows in their spare time to spread them over the Internet and who are capable of writing programs to subtitle their favourite TV series. What they do is to code software which meet the subtitler's needs thanks to their constant feedback via forums. Some of these pieces of software are VisualSubSync (http://visualsubsync.corecodec.org/, freeware), Sabbu (http://www.sabbu.com/en/index.html, free), Aegisub (http://aegisub.cellosoft.com/, free), and SSATool (http://kawaii-shoujo.net/AntiAliased/index.html, free). If video and audio editing is required for a particular reason, VirtualDub (http://www.virtualdub.org/, free) for video and Audacity (http://audacity.sourceforge.net/, free) for audio come very handy. Of course, a good multimedia player such as Media Player Classic (http://sourceforge.net/projects/guliverkli/, free), VLC (http://www.videolan.org/vlc/, free) or The KMPlayer (http://www.kmplayer.com/forums/index.php, freeware) is the perfect combination of these tools for a final quality check of the subtitled TV show.

2.5.6. Machine Translation Systems

Machine Translation technology has been improved over time to produce good-quality results, but by no means should be seen as the panacea for communicating with other cultures. In effect, it can only achieve a good ouput when working with very simple texts or when controlled language is used. For example, Hutchins and Somers (1992) show the effectiveness of machine translation for weather forecasts. But to exploit the real power of machine translation, some editing is required before and after processing a text in a machine translation system as Somers (1997) and Allen (2003) suggest. There are many free online machine translation systems such as Altavista's Babelfish (http://babelfish.altavista.com/); commercial systems include @promt (http://www.smartlinkcorp.com/), Systran (http://www.systransoft.com) and Power Translator (http://www.avanquest.com/).

2.6. PDF Tools

PDF (Portable Document Format) files are used when there is no interest in modifying a document and thus the final version is the only thing that matters. One of its advantages is that what you see is what you get, i.e. it is not necessary to run the risk of losing the format when using different versions of the same software. Therefore, PDF files are considered by many as the the best solution for printing purposes.

2.6.1. PDF Readers

The PDF Reader par excellence is Acrobat Reader (http://www.adobe.com/uk/products/acrobat/readstep2.html, freeware), but one has to admit that it lacks speed when opening PDF files for the first time. An alternative to Acrobat is Foxit Reader (http://www.foxitsoftware.com/pdf/rd_intro.php, freeware), which has the same display quality but loads significantly faster.

2.6.2. PDF Creators

Being PDF the de facto standard to exchange documents with other people, it is necessary to know how to produce PDF files. If the word processor OpenOffice.org Writer is used (cf. 2.1. Word processors), then it is as easy as to click on the "Export to PDF" button. However, the file size of the resulting PDF will not be as optimized as when using other PDF creators such as Acrobat Professional (http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobatpro/, commercial) or PDFCreator (http://sourceforge.net/projects/pdfcreator/, free). This kind of software is installed as "virtual printers," so it is possible to create PDFs from every application that has a print option. This can be very useful for instance to proofread an HTML document—the best solution is to convert it to PDF and then edit it with a proofreading tool (cf. 2.8. Proofreading tools).

2.6.3. PDF Converters

Sometimes the client sends a PDF file to the translator and wants the translation to have the same layout. The easiest way to do so is to convert the PDF file to a Word document so it can be edited and pray for an accurate conversion, since images, fonts and tables are not always preserved. Some good converters are Solid Converter (http://www.solidpdf.com/, shareware) and ABBYY PDF Transformer (http://www.abbyy.com/pdftransformer/, shareware).

2.6.4. PDF Editors

If it is impossible to convert a PDF file to a Word document with sufficient quality, the last resort is to use a PDF editor. While it may seem very tedious to edit PDFs directly, it is the safest way to preserve the original layout. When non-Latin characters are not used in the original document, one must bear in mind that, in order to use them, a different font must be chosen. Some of the PDF editors out there are Infix PDF Editor (http://www.iceni.com/infix.htm, shareware) and Foxit PDF Editor (http://www.foxitsoftware.com/pdf/pe_intro.php, shareware).

2.7. Desktop Publishing Tools

The purpose of word processors is to write office and correspondence documents or reports among other things, but not to design a stylish layout for a journal. Thus, Desktop Publishing (DTP) tools are used by professionals to create an appealing layout for magazines or sales brochures. Of course, translators do not necessarily need to know anything about DTP to apply for a translation job, but they can indeed benefit from having DTP skills to enjoy a better income. However, translators should not be asked in principle to create a new document from scratch—that is the job of DTP specialists. DTP tools are dramatically different from word processors regarding the way they handle texts and graphics, so it may take some time until a translator becomes familiar with this type of complex software. The best-known DTP tools are FrameMaker (http://www.adobe.com/products/framemaker/index.html, commercial), InDesign (http://www.adobe.com/products/indesign/, commercial), QuarkXPress (http://www.quark.com/, commercial) and Scribus (http://www.scribus.net/, free).

There is also another free DTP alternative that is primarily used for the communication and publication of scientific documents—the LaTeX typesetting system. The idea behind LaTeX is that authors should focus more on what they want to say rather than on the document layout. In preparing a LaTeX document, the author specifies the logical structure using familiar concepts such as chapter, section, table, figure, etc., and lets the LaTeX system worry about the presentation of these structures. In addition to this, using LaTeX is one of the simplest ways to achieve the highest typesetting quality. Moreover, it is the most flexible solution to write complex mathematical formulas. On the other hand, the main drawback of LaTeX is that it has no WYSIWYG editor. There are many LaTeX sites on the Internet, and some of them have intuitive interfaces that help the user to write LaTeX documents in a friendly environment. For instance, MiKTeX (http://www.miktex.org/) is one of the most popular versions. For further reading on LaTeX, see Oetiker et al. (2006) for a good introduction to this powerful DTP system.

2.8. Proofreading Tools

Once the translation and its editing are finished, everything sould be proofread before the final product is delivered. Proofreading is the process which focus on the correction of errors such as misspellings or typos and mistakes in grammar and punctuation. Microsoft Word comes with a built-in proofreading function called "track changes" which lets the user not only make changes to the document that will require a later acceptance to become permament, but also to add comments or suggestions. Thus, when the translator gets back the revised version of his/her work, the translator can still consider the modifications made, as well as the comments and suggestions, to decide whether to accept or reject the changes, so the translation remains faithful as well as polished.

Nevertheless, most proofreaders have to work with PDF files, so PDF proofreading tools are required apart from those PDF tools mentioned above (cf. 2.6. PDF tools). Acrobat Professional, apart from creating PDF files, is the leading software for revising the final version of a document thanks to its commenting tools like the Higlight Tool or the Strikethrough Tool among others. These commenting tools imitate the traditional marks that proofreaders use to proofread a printed document, so it should be very easy for an old-fashioned proofreader to get used to this tool. Other cheaper alternatives are Foxit Reader Pro (http://www.foxitsoftware.com/pdf/rd_pro.php, shareware), Jaws PDF Editor (http://www.jawspdf.com/pdf_editor/index.html, shareware) and Bluebeam Revu (http://www.bluebeam.com/web03/products/BbRevu.asp, shareware).

2.9. Tools for Freelance Translators

Freelance translators can also benefit from computers by using them to manage and track their business thanks to the following software.

2.9.1. Billing Software

Before attempting a freelance translation job, it is advisable to know its cost to decide whether the price the translator will charge is adequate and also to give an estimate to the client. Therefore, it is important to have billing software in order to manage translation invoices. There is a wide variety of billing software on the market, although none of them is specifically designed for translators. However, as these application are generally highly customizable, one can create a suitable template according to one's specific needs. Some examples of billing software are BillQuick (http://www.bqe.com/, shareware), Freeside (http://www.sisd.com/freeside/, free) and FactuSol (http://www.sistemasmultimedia.com/es/factusol.htm, freeware, in Spanish).

2.9.2. Internet Fax Services

While nowadays e-mail has largely superseded the facsimile (fax), there is no harm in having a fax application to send and even receive fax. Windows comes with a fax service that uses a modem to send fax, but another effective solution is to use an Internet fax service like InterFAX (http://www.interfax.net/en/, commercial), FaxZero (http://faxzero.com/, free for the US and Canada) or TrusFax (http://www.trustfax.com/pricing.asp?code=reseller6, commercial).

3. Other Useful Software Packages

Although the majority of software packages that professional translators use has been covered above, here are some other tools which come handy when using a computer.

3.1. Anti-malware Software

Malicious software is designed to infiltrate or damage a computer. It includes computer viruses, worms, trojan horses, spyware and adware.

3.1.1. Antivirus Software

Surfing the Internet and opening files from an unreliable source is a risk for computers when there is no antivirus software installed on it or its virus definitions are not up-to-date. It is important to remember that a good antivirus is capable not only to detect viruses, but also to eliminate them. On the other hand, antivirus software may consume lots of resources, so one has to remember to configure it appropriately in order not to work with a computer that suddenly slows down. In any case, computer viruses can destroy many months of work, so it is highly recommended to have an antivirus program no matter how it affects the computer's performance. The best antivirus software packages include AVP (http://wwpackagw.kaspersky.com/, commercial), Norton Antivirus (http://www.symantec.com/index.htm, commercial), McAfee Antivirus (http://www.mcafee.com/, commercial), AntiVir (http://www.free-av.com/, freeware) and AVG (http://www.grisoft.com/doc/1, freeware).

3.1.2. Anti-spyware Software

Spyware is a type of malware that is installed in a way invisible to the user in order to gather information about what the user does on the computer and send it to companies that will probably send you spam later. Moreover, spyware may slow down the Internet connection or consume computer resources in the background. The most popular software used to fight spyware is Ad-aware (http://www.lavasoftusa.com/software/adaware/, freeware), but there are also good alternatives such as SpyBot Search & Destroy (http://www.safer-networking.org/, freeware) or Spyware Terminator (http://www.spywareterminator.com/, freeware).

3.1.2. Firewalls

A firewall is a piece of software that tracks every attempt to access a computer and asks its user to grant permission to execute something when software receives data from the Internet. Thus, it is the perfect partner together with antivirus software to block online viruses. There is no need to worry if some software stops to work as it would normally do after installing a firewall—it just need to be configured to specify what programs can use the Internet connection. Examples of firewalls are ZoneAlarm (http://www.zonelabs.com/store/content/home.jsp, both freeware and shareware versions), Kerio (http://www.kerio.com/, shareware) and NetDefender (http://www.programmerworld.net/personal/firewall.htm, free).

3.2. File Compressors/Decompressors

File compression is a must when sending and receiving files on the Internet, as the file size can be reduced considerably depending on the file type. There are many compression file formats—zip, rar, ace, 7z -, zip being the most popular. Many people use WinZip (http://www.winzip.com/, commercial), but there are other good alternatives such as WinRAR (http://www.rarlab.com/, shareware), WinACE (http://www.winace.com/, shareware), 7-Zip (http://www.7-zip.org/, free), ALZip (http://www.altools.net/, freeware) and IZArc (http://www.izarc.org/, freeware).

3.3. Miscellaneous Tools

There are some other useful little tools that translators can benefit from to make their task easier. For example:

4. Conclusion

The above presentation should show translators the vital role that computers plays nowadays. Even those who learn reluctantly how to use a computer must recognize its potential benefits. In fact, as Castro Roig (2003) puts it, "a translator without a computer is like a taxi driver without a taxi." There are, of course, many other tools out there. This paper just presents some of the most common software packages for the Windows operating system used by translators. Thus, subsequent studies should focus not only on describing and reviewing new and old electronic tools for translators, but also on presenting translation software for Linux, Macintosh, and other operating systems. So far, Linux for Translators' website (http://www.linuxfortranslators.org/) is the most comprehensive site for open source software available on Linux. Some scholars have already started discussions about free Linux software (Diaz Fouces, 2005; McKay, 2006). However, there is still a long journey to travel in search of open-source solutions for translators.


1 For more details about software localization tools, see Esselink (2000) and Sokoli (2002).

2 This new translation phenomenon is studied in Díaz Cintas and Muñoz Sánchez (2006).

3 To use efficiently the Advanced Find and Replace function in Word, see Környei (2001).


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