five key translation tools for translators. Trados, GT4T, Dragon, Antidote, TTS with Microsoft Azure

There are many ways to translate a document, but professional translators need to maintain quality and so use translation tools to productionize the translation process (repetition and continuous improvement of the same process).

Here, we discuss five key translation tools:

We use Trados CAT tool to import documents and translate source to target, and GT4T to provide a draft machine translation. Dragon Naturally Speaking to dictate target translation. RWS Text to Speech (TTS) to make sure target text sounds right and Antidote to correct spelling, grammar and readability.

five translation tools for Translators Trados, GT4T, Dragon, Antidot and Text to Speech

The Translation process

These are guidelines rather than formal steps, although they can be followed in chronological order.

Translation process using translation tools

First import documents into Trados. Produce a draft translation with GT4T. Dictate as necessary with Dragon Naturally Speaking. Go through checking, validating key terms against your Terms Database. Check for grammar and style with Antidote, then read back the translation with TTS as part of proofing.

The objective here is to translate the source document to target. Trados presents the source document in two columns, one source and the other the target.

You can then complete the translation from source to target and export the target document translated with all the formatting of the source document.

Machine Translation

Now, machine translation technology using GT4T can apply a DeepL machine translation to your source in Trados. The result is never adequate and requires either manual retranslation or extensive proofreading. This is where the other tools come in handy, such as TTS to read back, Antidote to check form.

Voice playback

TTS via Microsoft Cognitive Services allows you to generate, within Trados, a voice playback of the source or the target in quite a good quality voice (not so electronic).

This is a real help when trying to consider whether a target translation is adequate, whether it sounds right, and whether it is technically a good representation of the source.

Having a voice playback is especially helpful if it is in your local language variant (in my case English UK). A voice playback helps to determine whether the target sounds right. You always have your eye on the source and can also play back the source in audio voice.

Happy with the draft

You may then have a draft target translation, whether machine- or manually-generated. Once you’ve checked the keywords, you’ve played it back, and you’re happy that it works for you. Now you need to go back to check the spelling, grammar and readability with Antidote. Go through and confirm all the segments, rereading and playing back as you need. Once all segments are confirmed, you have a confirmed translation.

Export the target document

Export it to the target document, check the formatting of the target document, and you’re done. Read this further article on the technical translation process.

Translation tools for professional translators

This section details the tools introduced above: Trados, GT4T, Antidote, Trados TTS and Microsoft Azure.

Trados the core translation tool

The core translation tool is Trados, which allows you to import any document whether PDF (you can convert to Word), Word, PowerPoint, Excel, or virtually any other type of document. The difficulty is processing images, which you need first to OCR as PDFs and convert to Word. Trados will import any document within limits.

Trados can import at least 50 types of files including Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, RTF, Visio, Adobe PDF and many more.

Although, I recommend exporting PDFs to Word first with Adobe Reader DC (requires a subscription to the export service).

File Types Handled by Trados

Trados is a (computer-aided) translation tool. Its primary role is to deconstruct documents (office, PDF) to present them in two columns ready for translation. The example below is a passage from a document already translated. On the left is the source in French, on the right is the translated English text.

source and target text in trados translation tool
source and target in trados

Once the translation is finished, you can simply generate the target translated document and Trados will reconstruct the document in the target language but with all the same formatting as the source document: paragraphs, tables, sections, bold italics, text colours and embedded images.

It is an ideal interface in which to work since every document is presented in the same way: source on the left targets to complete on the right. The process is the same each time: inject a source document and automatically generates the target document. This similarity of the process means that you can productionize your translation workflow (repetition and continuous improvement of the same process).

Other (CAT) translation tools

The following are great translation tools but having used Trados primarily since 2015, I have used the following tools intermittently or because of customer requirements.

Déjà vu is a good local translation tool, but I didn’t spend time looking for plugins. I have more than one customer who require translation on memsource. Smartcat is a nice standalone marketplace with online file management. Café trans is a local Windows app very nice, but I went back to Trados.

GT4T File Translator

GT4T is a translation tool that provides access to multiple translation engines such as DeepL, Google, Systran, ModernMT and can translate Trados files native. Once ready, this draft translation is then available within the Trados environment for MTPE proofreading and correction.

Of course, there are times when a machine translation is not appropriate and manual translation is necessary. The results of machine translation are not one hundred per cent and always need proofing and correction.

Dragon Naturally speaking

Dragon Naturally Speaking is a voice to text tool which enables you to dictate directly into target language segments in Trados. You will need a good quality microphone and headset and a reasonably powerful computer for it to be effective. The current version is v15, upgrades from v13 are around $350, but there is no viable alternative.

Microsoft Azure and TTS

Trados TTS is a plug-in for Trados which enables you to have the computer read your source or target text aloud. Audio is a very useful way of checking your translation.

Errors are not always obvious by reading alone. TTS enables you to check your translation audibly. Sometimes you need to hear the text spoken to detect not just whether it is grammatically correct, but whether it sounds right.

The TTS (Text to Speech) plug-in can be downloaded from the SLD / RWS app store here. The page also provides instructions to set up the speech conversion engines via the Microsoft Azure platform.

Microsoft Azure powers Text to Speech (TTS). The API key is provided by configuring a Cognitive Services account resource.

The whole setup is quite easy once your Microsoft Azure account is active. Once this setup completed, TTS can be configured to playback source or target segments in Trados via shortcuts

Antidote grammar checker

Once your translation is done and confirmed, go back and check grammar, style, punctuation, spelling, vocabulary, typography, constructions and readability with Antidote. Antidote also provides advanced semantic analyses such as identifying phrases using passive voice, over complex and long phrases, repetitions and a whole raft of lexical analysis such as the linguistic origin of terms, semantic fields, tenses, uses of gender.

Final export from Trados

Once your translation is confirmed and checked, you can generate the target document from Trados, which will simply be in the target language but with all the formatting and images retained from the source.