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A brighter side of opentm2 July 5, 2010

Posted by globalizer in IBM, Tools, Translation.
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Even the limited version currently available offers glimpses of the tool’s potential.

Just the other day I found that all new translations of an email template we had updated were broken – in at least 2 ways, actually, although here I’ll only deal with one of those.

The problem was with this sentence from the mail template:
Subscription to ${subscription.localizedObjectType}: ${subscription.objectTitle} (${subscription.notificationCount}#if ($subscription.notificationCount == 1) Update#else Updates#end) ${subscription.objectUrl}

And yes, I know full well that this Velocity jumble is not best practices for translatable text, so hold your horses. This is legacy code which we have to live with for a little while longer.

Anyway, this has been translated for a long time, and the update that caused us to have to re-translate was elsewhere in the file. So the translations of this particular sentence should not have changed.

Every single translate language came back with a completely incorrect translation for this string, however; in fact the singular version of the noun “Update” had in every single case been translated as the imperative form of the verb.

There seem to be 2 tool-related issues at play, segmentation and homonym handling. I’ll save homonym handling for later – even though this is probably my main beef with the widely used tool in question (which of course is Trados).

When queried about the weird translations, our vendor pointed to the tool as the culprit and provided this screen shot as proof of the segmentation causing the problem (combined with the homonym issue):

Bad segmentation

(Click for a larger version)

It does indeed look as if the tool treats each of the translatable words as a separate segment – which makes me wonder how it was possible to translate the sentence correctly the first time around and why a report about incorrect segmentation for this file wasn’t created, so that it could either be corrected or put on a list of files that can’t be handled via that tool. But these are all separate issues.

It did cause me to test whether OpenTM2 would be able to handle that file, and since HTML is one of the few file types with a markup table, I was in luck.

The plain vanilla HTML markup segmentation result  didn’t look too good, as expected, since all of the Velocity placeholder variables were left unprotected.

It proved very simple to add the required tags to the markup table, however, and after about 30 minutes I had “perfectly” segmented text. Perfect in the sense that all variables and code were protected (red text in the sample below), and sentences were treated as one segment (yellow background shows the active segment):

OpenTM2 segmentation

All changes that experienced software translators would be able to implement on their own.

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