How to Make CAI Tools Work for You – a Guest Article by Bianca Prandi

After conducting research and providing training on Computer-Assisted Interpreting (CAI) for the past 6 years, I feel quite confident in affirming that there are three indisputable truths about CAI tools: they can potentially provide a lot of advantages, do more harm than good if not used strategically, and most interpreters know very little about them.

The surveys conducted so far on interpreters’ terminological strategies[1] have shown that only a small percentage has integrated CAI tools in their workflow. Most interpreters still prefer “traditional” solutions such as Word or Excel tables to organize their terminology. There can be many reasons for this. Some may have already developed reliable systems and processes, and don’t see a point in reinventing the wheel. Others believe the cons outweigh the pros when it comes to these tools and are yet to find a truly convincing alternative to their current solutions. Others may simply never have heard about Flashterm, InterpretBank or Interpreter’s Help before.

Even though a lot still remains to be investigated empirically, the studies conducted so far have highlighted both advantages and disadvantages in the use of CAI tools.  On the positive side, CAI tools can provide effective preparation through automatic term extraction and in-built concordancers[2] (Xu 2015). They seem to contribute to higher terminological accuracy than paper glossaries[3] or even Excel tables[4] when used to look up terms in the booth. They help interpreters organize, reuse and share their resources, rationalize and speed up their preparation process, make the most of preparation documents, work efficiently on the go and go paperless if desired. On the negative side, they are often perceived as potentially distracting and less flexible than traditional solutions. When working with CAI tools, we might run the risk of relying too much on the tool, both during the preparation phase and interpretation proper[5].

I would argue that, if used strategically, the pros easily outweigh the cons billigastemobilabonnemang.nu telefonabonnemang. Just as with any tool and new technology, it all comes down to how you use them. Whether you are still sceptical, already CAI-curious, or a technology enthusiast, here are three tips on how to make CAI tools work for you.

  1. Take time to test your tools

Most tools offer a free demo to test out their functionalities. I know we are all busy, but you can use downtimes to work on improving your processes, just as you would (should!) do to work on your CPD and marketing strategy. I suggest you do the following:

  • Choose one of your recent assignments, something you had to do research on because the topic was unfamiliar to you.
  • Set aside 1-2 hours a day, or even just 30 minutes, to simulate preparing for the assignment again.
  • Set yourself a clear goal for each phase of your workflow (glossary creation, terminology extraction, memorization, debriefing).
  • Build your baseline: dedicate 1 session to assessing your current approach. Then, dedicate each of the following sessions to testing out a different tool, here is some key differences.
  • For a systematic comparison, keep track of the time needed for each activity, the pros and cons for each tool, your preferences and things that you found irritating.

You can conduct this analysis and selection process over a week or even a month if you are very busy. Once you have identified what might work for you, keep using those tools! Maybe test them out on a real assignment for a client you already know, where the risk of mishaps is lower.

  1. There is no perfect tool

Unless you can write code and develop your own tool, chances are there will always be something you don’t like about a tool, or that some functions you deem essential might be missing. But given the advantages that come from working with Wunder-Mold these solutions, it is definitely worth it to try and see whether you can find a tool that satisfies even just 50% of your interpreting needs. It may not seem much, but it’s already 50% of your workflow that you can optimize.

Once you get a feeling for what each tool can do for you, you might find out that there are some options you love that aren’t available in your tool of choice. My suggestion: mix and match. Most CAI tools are built modularly and allow users to only work with a specific function. For instance, I love Intragloss’ terminology extraction module, so I use that tool to work with documents, but I use InterpretBank for everything else. In a word: experiment and be creative!

  1. Tools can’t do the work for you

If you’re passionate about technology, you will agree that CAI tools are quite cool. However, we should never forget that they are a tool and, as such, they fulfil their function as long as we use them purposefully. Think before you use them, always make sure you follow a strategic course of action.

If you have the feeling you had never been as ill-prepared as when you worked with a CAI tool, here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • Am I sure this is the right tool for me? Have I taken enough time to test it out?
  • Did I have a clear goal when I started preparing for my assignment? Or was I simply trying to cram together as many terms as possible?
  • Am I aware of my learning preferences? If I’m an auditory learner, does it make sense to use a flashcard method to study the terminology?
  • Did I include in my glossary just any term that came up in my documents? Or did I start from the relevant terminology I found to further explore the topic?

As for many things in life, reflection and a structured, strategic approach can really go a long way. For busy interpreters needing some guidance, Interpremy is preparing a course series that will help you effectively use CAI tools to optimize all phases of your workflow and avoid potential pitfalls. Get in touch at info@interpremy.com!


[1] See for instance: Zielinski, Daniel and Yamile Ramírez-Safar (2006). Onlineumfrage zu Terminologieextraktions- und Terminologieverwaltungstools. Wunsch und Wirklichkeit noch weit auseinander.” MDÜ. and Corpas Pastor, Gloria and Lily May Fern (2016). A Survey of Interpreters’ Needs and Practices Related to Language Technology.

[2] See Xu, Ran (2015). Terminology Preparation for Simultaneous Interpreters. University of Leeds.

[3] Biagini, Giulio (2015). Glossario cartaceo e glossario elettronico durante l’interpretazione simultanea: uno studio comparativo. Università degli studi di Trieste.

[4] Prandi, Bianca (2018). An exploratory study on CAI tools in simultaneous interpreting: Theoretical framework and stimulus validation. In Claudio Fantinuoli (ed.), Interpreting and technology, 29–59. Berlin: Language Science Press.

[5] Prandi, Bianca (2015). The Use of CAI Tools in Interpreters’ Training: A Pilot Study. 37th Conference Translating and the Computer, 48–57.


About the author:

Bianca Prandi

bianca@interpremy.com

  • Conference Interpreter IT-EN-DE, MA Interpreting (University of Bologna/Forlì), based in Mannheim (Germany), www.biancaprandi.com;
  • PhD candidate – University of Mainz/Germersheim. Research topic: impact of computer-assisted interpreting tools on terminological quality and cognitive processes in simultaneous interpreting;
  • CAI trainer and co-founder of InterpreMY – my interpreting academy: online academy for interpreters with goal-centered, research-based courses, www.interpremy.com (coming soon: July 2020).

Publications:

  • Prandi, B. (2015). L’uso di InterpretBank nella didattica dell’interpretazione: uno studio esplorativo. Università di Bologna/Forlì.
  • Prandi, B. (2015). The Use of CAI Tools in Interpreters’ Training: A Pilot Study. 37th Conference Translating and the Computer, 48–57. London.
  • Prandi, B. (2017). Designing a Multimethod Study on the Use of CAI Tools during Simultaneous Interpreting. 39th Conference Translating and the Computer, 76–88. London: AsLing.
  • Prandi, B. (2018). An exploratory study on CAI tools in Simultaneous Interpreting: theoretical framework and stimulus validation. In C. Fantinuoli (Ed.), Interpreting and technology, 28–59.
  • Fantinuoli, C., & Prandi, B. (2018). Teaching information and communication technologies: a proposal for the interpreting classroom. Trans-Kom, 11(2), 162–182.
  • Prandi, B. (forthcoming). CAI tools in interpreter training: where are we now and where do we go from here? InTRAlinea.

 

Great Piece of Research on Terminology Assistance for Conference Interpreters

Terminology Assistance Coming to a Simultaneous Interpreter Near You

Microsoft Office Translator – Can it be of any help in the booth?

When it comes to Computer-Aided Interpreting (CAI), a question widely  discussed in the interpreting community is whether information being provided automatically by a computer in the booth could be helpful for simultaneous interpreters or if would rather be a distraction. Or to put it differently: Would the cognitive load of simultaneous interpreting be increased by the additional input, or would it be decreased by providing helpful information that the interpreters would otherwise have to retrieve from their longterm memory.

Of course, interpreting is not about translating single words, but about ideas being understood in one language and then expressed in another. But on the other hand, we all (conference interpreters or not) know the occasional tip of the tongue, when we just can’t think of the German word for, say, nitric acid, and might appreciate a little trigger to remember a particular word or expression.

One scenario of CAI often discussed is that the source speech is analysed by a speech recognition software, critical terminology is extracted  and, based on the interpreter’s glossary, a dictionary or other sources, the equivalent in the target language is displayed on the screen. This technology still has many limitations, especially the speed and quality/reliability of the speech recognition function. But while we are waiting for this solution to become market-ready, I have recently come to like a tool which is altogether quite different in its original aim but can be used for a similar purpose: The Microsoft Translator.

In Powerpoint, for example, by just clicking on a text element the translator window opens next to the slide, and remains open. It translates complete texts or single words, and it has turned out to be quite useful for me in some situations, especially when interpreting presentations based on Powerpoint files I had not had the time to read before the meeting.

But would I say that the Microsoft Translator is a tool I consider a valuable support in the booth? The answer clearly is: it depends.

Quality varies considerably between language pairs. While English-Spanish seems to be one of the well-developed „premium“ combinations with sometimes impressive results, French-German did not really convince me.

You can never rely on the system to understand the message. And running a mental plausibility check in parallel to the normal interpreting job plus reading the translation on the screen is not an option.

But: If you manage to use the translator simply to prompt your brain when you are searching for a particular word, preferably one that leaves no room for mistranslations (like sodium, elderflower or forklift truck), it may make your life easier.

The nice thing is that this translator, which can also be used as a dictionary, runs within Powerpoint, so you can read your presentation and pre-translate texts very easily. It does not involve any typing or skipping between different windows.

After all, we are still at the beginning of what CAI brings. The Microsoft Translator is an easily accessible tools nice enough to play around with and get a flavour of what language technology brings for conference interpreters. And I am really curious to hear what your experience is!

About the author

Anja Rütten is a freelance conference interpreter for German (A), Spanish (B), English (C) and French (C) based in Düsseldorf, Germany. She has specialised in knowledge management since the mid-1990s.