No Desk, No Screen, No Keyboard Translation

It's uncomfortable to stare at a screen for 12 hours straight in order to complete a rush translation.

I have found that a good solution is to print off the original text and then record yourself speaking it using a wireless Bluetooth microphone that skips silence.

This means you can basically do whatever you want, make a cup of tea, organize your files, etc. while translating. Just speak out the translation as you read it on the paper, sentence by sentence, and the program will only record what you say, not the silence around it. You can pay someone to type it up at much less than the entire job is worth.

Instead of a piece of paper, you can also use a projector screen and wireless keyboard and mouse to cut out your screen time. Looking at projector is much easier on the eyes, and the wireless keyboard and mouse lets you move around a lot.

Following these methods provides a pathway to nearly cutting screen time out of the equation altogether. Translation no longer has to be a strain on your health that involves constantly sitting in front of a computer screen.

Unless, of course, it involves a CAT tool, in which case you probably need to use a projector and a keyboard and mouse to maximize posture and exercise.

The Joy of the CAT Tool

I have to admit I have become a convert to translation CAT tools (in particular MemSource. I'm sure I will eventually learn how to use Trados after I learn how to control my gag reflex whenever I try it).

I remember back when I started applying for translation jobs, sometimes companies would send me text that had been generated by Google Translate and ask me to do some 'light machine postediting' work. 'Don't worry' they would say 'it's not translation, it's only machine postediting'.

Right. I hope you don't mind if I block your email address.

The awfulness and sheer uselessness of much of what Google Translate produces turned me off using any kind of machine translation for some time. It was much, much easier just to translate it myself without any help.

I sort of 'wrote off' translation programs and translating software at that time.

Later on, my first experience using a CAT tool was when I once took on an enormous games translation project involving over 150,000 characters (actually it was the game 格斗冒险岛) using OmegaT. I must have been crazy because I only had two weeks to complete it.

I have to say it certainly helped to use a CAT tool, but there were massive issues connecting to the company's Chinese servers through the Great Chinese Firewall and occasionally several hours of work would be deleted. The experience left me hungering for good ol' PDF / Word document translation.

Later on I got asked to do a couple of other games translation projects using different CAT tools and had a much better experience, particularly with MemSource.

What I found through these later experiences are that CAT tools excel in documents where there is a) a lot of repetition, b) a lot of technical terms where Google Translate and Bing Translate are actually good, and c) team projects.

There is also the exciting possibility that you can get to the stage where so many 'memory terms' are saved in your translation database that much of the actual work of translation (i.e. the creative thinking part) is no longer necessary.

After doing quite a few contracts and financial documents, I've started to really look forward to developing my term database to this level.

Anyway, a while ago I decided to bite the bullet and that I should probably start using CAT tools for myself rather than through a translation agency's account.

Now I'd say that CAT tools are starting to look pretty good for technical translations (e.g. patents, manuals, etc), contracts and video game materials.

I'd still rather get a PDF or Word document and do some creative translation because I actually find that more stimulating, but I think the need is greater in the market for this kind of nitty-gritty technical work.

If you're a translator and want to get started using a free and relatively easy-to-use CAT tool, I'd recommend trying MemSource. You still need to be a bit 'techy' though to get really comfortable with it.

Example Translation: Chinese documentary script

This is a translation for a fun documentary series on pets. The great thing about this company is they let you basically write what you think sounds natural in English and to focus on what will connect with the English audience (rather than mechanical and stilted translations as is typically the case with Chinese translation companies).


Seven million families live in Beijing. Every morning, millions of people in the city must bid farewell as parents send off their children and friends and relatives go about their own affairs. The hurried activities of the commercial world belongs to the human, but in their enclosed houses they still have housemates who speak an entirely different language. Once that door is closed, the world becomes its own separate universe.


Pets Home Alone

第三集 孤独星球

Episode 3 The Lonely Planet


Only a very special owner can handle one husky. Having two huskies in one’s house signifies a true warrior. Sun Ying has two huskies.

觉得它特别二嘛 特别可爱
没想它拆迁啊 毁家具啊

Sun Ying
The husky has been sent down
from heaven to test the ingenuity of mortals.
Pictures on the ‘net make
huskies look very goofy, very lovable.
That’s all that you can see.
You can’t see them tear down your house and furniture.
That is not featured.


The bulldozing team is taken out for a stroll round the block, while the camera team takes advantage of the quiet to install CCTV.


I’m very curious about what
they do when I’m not around,
What these two do in the house
to cause trouble.


We’re going to help this owner satisfy her curiosity. The equipment needs to be installed and tested properly first, however. There is just enough time. Everything is ready.

我走了啊 尼卡
听话啊 不许尿沙发

I’m going! Nikki.
Be a good girl, no peeing on the sofa.


Every dog is different. Darkly colored Katie is 8 months old, and arrived at this home earlier than two year old Nikki. Normally, younger dogs are more curious than older, and Katie has discovered there is something different about the house. The bulbous CCTV camera is in trouble. Young Katie is still teething, and her jaws are more powerful at this stage than Nikki’s.


The owner was worried that dogs easily feel lonely. It doesn’t seem to be a problem for Katie, though, has she has demonstrated through her teeth marks on many items of furniture.

Translation Job Questions

1. Does it involve Trados? (until I get a PC or get Boot Camp working properly on my Mac, I don't wanna have to use Trados)

2. Is it actually translation or proofreading semi-intelligible English at a much lower pay rate?

3. Will I make a lot more money working as a sandwich artist at my local Subway?

4. Do I need to stay up all night to make an urgent deadline or otherwise cut a lot of sleep?

5. Is it a new company or does it have a less than stellar reputation on the Internet?

6. Have they done anything dodgy to me before like asked me to 'proofread' something generated by Google Translate?

7. Is it for a religious cult? (no 'Eastern Lightning' stuff, thanks)

Work Example -Marketing

Work Example -Marketing


According to preliminary statistics, the opening and the first day of the exhibition was attended by around 20,000 people. Most of these visitors are associated with the shoes, clothing, luggage, bags, furniture, automobile industries, other leather goods industries, not to mention other enterprises in addition, and mainly composed of actual buyers, who made up about 70% of attendees, with traders and dealers estimated at closer to 30%. The benefits of the exhibition have been greatly praised by those attending, as the event seemed to receive universal acclaim.