In the last two part of our mini-guide Better Translation: How to become a more efficient translator, we looked at physical parts of our setup, i.e. office furniture and hardware (PC and multi-screen setups). Today, let us talk software. The right software makes your life a lot easier when it comes to (1) the translation process, and (2) staying in touch with your clients and/or collaborators.
It is incredibly important to use software that’s efficient, stable, and actually makes your life easier instead of adding even more steps, and mouse clicks, to what are already complex business practices. Today, let us look at research tools.
The main software we use for research is, without a doubt, the web browser. Translators need to use quick lookup techniques. This means that we need to be able to quickly search for a word on multiple sites (we will talk about translation sites, online dictionaries and glossaries in a few days). This requirement excludes two browsers, unfortunately the two browsers which are probably the best, for general requirements, at the moment: Google Chrome and Internet Explorer 9 (and the Metro IE 10 which is part of the upcoming Windows 8). These browsers have a unified address and search bar, which is very handy for casual web surfing but impractical for translation lookup. My choice is therefore Opera, the underdog browser from Norway. It’s a bit more complex and resource-intensive than its competitors, but the search bar is the most customizable of them all, which makes it our favorite. It’s also easy to set up:
Let’s open the LEO English-German dictionary, for example, the old-fashioned way (Type the address into your browser of click on this link). We’ll introduce a word into the search field like we used to do (but it’s the last time we’ll use this approach, ever). Let’s do a search for the word “translator”.
Ok, so here we go. That’s worked alright. Now, delete the word “translator” from the search bar, and what you get is an empty search field. Right-click into the space and choose “create search”. In the next step, you can change the name of the search engine, and I would recommend that you choose something simple which does not take up too much space on the screen and is easily identifiable: say, “LEO DE” (DE for German).
See what we did there? From now on, we can look up words in LEO by following these simple steps:
(1) Open Opera (or activate the window on the second screen if you are using the dual-monitor setup we talked about last time).
(2) Focus on the search bar by clicking into it or pressing ctrl+e
(3) Type your search terms
(4) After typing your search terms, use the DOWN arrow to chose your search engine/dictionary/terminology database previously added to the search box.
(5) You can re-search using a different search engine/etc. just by picking a different option in the search bar’s drop-down list.
You can add multiple, unlimited research sites by repeating the procedure detailed above (click “create search” to add search engine. Include ALL your favorite lookup sites until you end up with something like this:
Suddenly, terminology lookup got a lot easier, didn’t it?
Which web browser do you prefer for your translation research? Have you got your search field stuffed with different dictionaries? Of do you still have ten big fat physical dictionaries lying on your desk? Sound off in the comments.