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Re: Emacs as a translator's tool

From: Eric Abrahamsen
Subject: Re: Emacs as a translator's tool
Date: Fri, 29 May 2020 10:39:24 -0700
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/28.0.50 (gnu/linux)

Yuri Khan <> writes:

> On Fri, 29 May 2020 at 15:14, Emanuel Berg via Users list for the GNU
> Emacs text editor <> wrote:
>> Anyway, what other features do the proprietary
>> CATs have?
>> I always thought translation was just a matter of
>> reading one thing and then typing what it means,
>> looking up the occasional word or phrase for the
>> idiomatic equivalent.
> I have not used any professional CATs, but one important function is
> having a vocabulary (also called translation memory).
> Imagine translating a novel. When a new character is introduced, you
> have to decide how his/her name is translated and spelled. You need to
> record it so that you’re consistent. Same goes for any names, not just
> of people.
> If the translation is a joint effort, that vocabulary needs to be
> shared so that the whole team calls characters the same names.

I'm a translator, primarily of fiction, and do all of it in Emacs,
specifically in Org mode.

I've thought many times over the years about what I would really want an
Emacs-based translation environment to provide for me. I don't do
technical translation, so there's not a whole lot of value in
sentence-by-sentence correspondences. But as Yuri mentions it can be
very useful to keep track of how you've translated certain names, or
certain important terms, in different places throughout the text.
Basically I would want two things:

1. A way to keep track of location correspondences between the source
   text and translated text. CAT tool split the text up by sentence, but
   that's not very useful for fiction (particularly Chinese->English
   translation) because there's rarely a one-to-one correspondence.
   There /is/ a more reliable correspondence between paragraphs, though,
   and I'd like to know which paragraph equals which. The point would
   mostly be to find my place again when I start translating at the
   beginning of the day, and to implement a more useful follow-mode. I
   imagined this would happen when the mode was turned on: it would run
   down the file and insert markers that would be used to find
   correspondences. Special characters could be inserted into the file
   to indicate that two paragraphs should be joined, or one paragraph
2. Link terms in the translation to a glossary pulled from the original.
   This would be character names, places, special terms, etc. They might
   not always be translated the same way, but I need to know how I've
   handled them earlier in the document. Glossary terms would be
   highlighted in the source text, and when you came to the equivalent
   spot in the translation, you'd use a command like
   insert-translation-term that would prompt for the translation,
   offering completion on earlier translations, and then insert that
   term into the translated text with a link to the original in the
   glossary. There would also be two multi-occur commands: one that
   prompted for a translation and showed all the places in the source
   text where it came from, and another that did the opposite: prompted
   for an original glossary term and showed all the places in the
   translation where it was translated.

Anyway, that's what I've been thinking about. Almost no code so far,


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