Segmentation Wordfast Classic

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Wordfast considers a document as a set of segments, a segment being usually a sentence, ending with an end-of-segment punctuation (ESP) such as full stop, question mark etc (the ESPs are customizable in Wordfast's Setup/General tab). Paragraph marks, page breaks, end of cell, tabulators etc will always end a segment. I have highlighted the 10 segments present in the following example:

The mark-ups for retail are as follows: for class A stores, 10%. For class B stores, 15%. Please observe the following chart:

Class Class A Class B
Mark-up. No exceptions. 10% 15%


Note that the isolated 10% and 15% are not considered segments. A segment must have at least one translatable item (at least one letter). See the segment example. It is possible, however, to force Wordfast to segment such untranslatable text: see Pandora's box "SegmentAll" command. Even in the absence of translation memory, a segmenter saves time and boosts productivity. The problems, when translating from a printed document, are:

1. Eye strain. You will constantly move back and forth between the paper document and the computer screen. Your eyes will have to re-focus many times every minute. A lot of translators end up, after a number of years, with severe sight problems.

2. Brain strain. After having translated a sentence, you will have to look again at your paper sheet and locate the exact position of the last sentence and read the next one. This exercise requires attention and drains intellectual power.

3. Professional errors. Because of problem 2, it regularly happens that we skip a sentence, not to mention an entire paragraph, which is a serious professional error. Perhaps the document is made of a series of 100 nearly identical sentences, with slightly different numerical parameters, like

Please apply the following mark-up for Class A: 10%
Please apply the following mark-up for Class B: 12% but exclude zone TT-001
Please apply the following mark-up for Class C: 11.5%
Please apply the following mark-up for Class F: 13%
Please apply the following mark-up for Class P: 9%
etc for 3 pages!

If one line is forgotten, the translator becomes responsible for a serious professional error. Working with a segmenter on an electronic original, you will not have to worry a second. The segmenter will faithfully segment the document and ask you to translate every segment, without forgetting a drop. Furthermore, in the above example, once you have translated the first line, Wordfast will actually recognise the next lines and pre-translate them for you.

4. More professional errors. Look at the second line, with the TT-001 parameter. This parameter should not be translated, but faithfully copied. Now, make sure you type Zero-Zero-One and not O-O-I. Seems easy? Technical documents are full of such Byzantine parameters. To us, they're annoying. To the customer, they're vital. Mis-type just one, and the customer ends up with a faulty manual. Wordfast has a Quality Assurance algorithm that will warn you if the untranslatable parameters are not faithfully copied from source to target. It also has QA functions to help respect the customer's specs on typography.

5. Document layout. Look again at the above example on segmentation. If you translate from paper, you will have to re-create that fancy layout, fiddling with formats, tables, borders, colours, fonts etc. With Wordfast, every target segment is formatted like the source segment (this is true at segment level, the first source character defining the format of the target segment. Wordfast makes every effort to duplicate the styles of, for example, untranslatable elements; in somes cases, you may have to manually apply bold, italic etc within the segment).

6. Terminology consistency. Over a large project (say you receive 50 pages every month, so you work for this particular customer 5 days a month, for 12 months), every time you work, you will have to remember the customer's glossary. With Wordfast, you create and save a particular setup for each customer, which remembers TM and glossaries. Wordfast will warn you every time the translation's terminology is in conflict with the customer's glossary.

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