Feb 27, 2018

Japanese Orthographic Variants in CAT Tool Translation and What You Can Do About It

Continuation of an article previously written by JLD Member Noriko Nevins

Part 2: Japanese Orthographic Variants in CAT Tool Translation and What You Can Do About It

In Part 1: The Problem with Japanese Orthographic Variants in CAT Tool Translation, I wrote about the surprising diversity in spelling of Japanese words and how it can pose a problem in CAT-tool-based translation. What could project managers and translators do to ensure spelling consistency in TM? I researched different tools available and examined which would be the easiest and simplest to implement in terms of cost and steps involved. If they are too costly or too difficult to use, translators can be reluctant to implement them.

1.     At the outset of the project, project manager may want to ask the end-client if there is any style guide they would like translators to follow. This step may seem obvious but is not always done when the project manager is not familiar with the of spelling diversity of the Japanese language.

2.     If no specific style guide is suggested or provided by the end-client, designate one and require all translators involved in the projects to use it.

There are many Japanese writing style guides published by different newspaper companies and publishers. But ideally, the style guide of choice should be one that is readily available, preferably free, easily accessible or downloadable from the Web, and thus easily adoptable. I recommend Japan Translation Federation’s style guide. The effort to develop this guide was headed by the JTF Style Guide Committee and extensive discussions and thorough considerations focusing on into-Japanese translation were given in the course of the development of this style guide. As a freelancer, I am deeply grateful for their effort to create this guide for everyone. The guide is downloadable from the JTF website.
·        Japanese version (for translators): https://www.jtf.jp/jp/style_guide/pdf/jtf_style_guide.pdf
·        English version (for project managers who don’t read Japanese): https://www.jtf.jp/jp/style_guide/pdf/jtf_style_guide_e.pdf

3.     Translators can utilize Japanese spell/grammar check tools to ensure project-wide spelling consistency. The following tools can be obtained or used for free, or build-in an application almost every translator already has:
a.       MSWord Grammar Checker app for SDL Studio
This free app for Studio 2014, 2015 and 2017 is available on SDL AppStore: http://appstore.sdl.com/app/msword-grammar-checker/392/

The drawback is that currently it only works if you are using Microsoft Word with the MSI installer. Word 2010 and some versions of Word 2013 come with the MSI installer. Word 2016 comes with C2R (Click-to-Run) installer except for Enterprise versions. Check which type of installer your Word came with. I tested the app with Word 2016 and Studio 2017 Freelance and it did not work. This installer type difference also prevents Studio users from using its Preview function. On SDL’s website, they say they are working on a fix. I hope a new service pack to resolve this issue will be released soon.
For Japanese translators who use Word with the MSI installer, the steps to start using this app are explained in this webinar in Japanese by SDL Japan: http://www.sdl.com/jp/video/sdl-app-webinarjpaug232016/108913/

You need to submit your contact information to SDL Japan from a form in the web page to view the video.
Remember, team-wide spelling consistency requires that the settings for the app and the spelling and grammar checker in Word to be the same for the entire translation team.. The same applies to other spell check tools as well.
b.      Use Word’s spelling and grammar checker outside SDL Studio
Even if option “a” is not a viable option in your work set-up, you can still take advantage of Word’s spelling and grammar checker. Export the sdlxliff file as (1) a target file (if the source file was in the Word format) or (2) a bilingual review file, then run Word’s spelling and grammar checker against the file.
In Case (1), make changes in the target file and import it back to Studio using the Retrofit feature.
In Case (2), make changes in the bilingual review file (the Track Changes feature is turned on by default) and import the revised file back into Studio.
c.       Use (1) JTF’s online StyleChecker or (2) downloadable Plug-in 蛍光と対策 (Keiko to Taisaku)
(1)  You can use JTF StyleChecker at: https://www.jtf.jp/jp/style_guide/jtfstylechecker.html
This handy, free online tool was created by Ryutaro Nishino. Simply copy and paste the text to check into the empty textbox, select options  you desire and click 実行 (Run). This tool may be helpful if the document is short or if you would like to check segment by segment within Studio before confirming each segment. The checker runs in the user’s web browser, so the text user inputs won’t be transmitted to any external server. One drawback of this tool is that it cannot check whether the “desu-masu” style or the “dearu” style is consistently used throughout the batch of text it checks.
(2)  蛍光と対策 can be downloaded from: http://www.vector.co.jp/soft/winnt/writing/se498511.html
This free, macro-based plug-in was created by Junya Nitta (Mr. Nitta also created another tool, deチェック, which patent translators may find very useful). The plug-in can be added on to Word and comes with .txt and .xls files that the plug-in uses to apply rules defined by the JTF Style Guide to the target text. The files can be customized to modify the JTF Style Guide’s rules to accommodate requirements of a specific project. This tool would be good to use on target files or a bilingual review file in Word format. Then the file can be imported back into Studio.
There are of course other great spelling/grammar check tools out there (e.g. Just System’s JustRight!). But very few are designed to work in conjunction with CAT tools and the implementation cost can be rather expensive. So I did not include those tools here.

Japanese spelling variants pose a small but pesky problem that often becomes apparent in the translation QA process. I hope adopting a style guide at the outset of the project or using a tool to apply a common set of spellings would help eliminate guesswork and save time and effort, so that the saved time and effort can be diverted to focusing on other areas to improve translation quality. I cannot wait until a CAT tool with such tool already built-in for this language pair becomes available!

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