Custom Machine Translation Made Simple

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Today’s translation professionals struggle with technology-driven business trends from translation quality to competitive edge, from work productivity to customer confidentiality. But these are not challenges for everyone. So…

  • If you don’t want to deliver quality translations that make you proud,
  • If you don’t want to complete 5 days of work in 3 or 4 days,
  • If you don’t want to strengthen your competitive edge,
  • If you don’t need to protect customers’ confidentiality…

Well if these describe you, I’ll save you some time. Just stop here. There’s no reason to go any further because everything that follows relates to one of these goals.

Great! You’re still here. Let’s dig deeper into Slate™ Desktop. It’s my product that many translators, teams, agencies and small LSPs have found helpful in realizing these goals.

Introducing Slate™ Desktop

Slate™ Desktop is software that adds a machine translation service to your personal computer. The service runs in the background as a machine translation provider for computer-assisted translation tools, applications like memoQ, Trados Studio, CafeTran, etc. that also run on your PC.

There’s nothing new about using machine translation providers in your computer-assisted translation tool. Online services like Google, Microsoft, KantanMT, DeepL and others have been providers for years.

You sign-up, enter your credit card number and add a provider to your translation project. The provider sends your client’s information to their Internet service. The service returns machine-translated segments. You send post-edited work to customers and pay the service fee on next month’s bill.

Online services are easy, instant and automatic. So maybe these questions that follow crossed your mind: How is Slate™ Desktop like the online services? How is Slate™ Desktop different from the online services? Why use Slate™ Desktop instead of the online services? Get ready because the answers might surprise you.

How is Slate™ Desktop like the online services?

Slate™ Desktopis easy. You configure your computer-assisted translation tool to use Slate Desktop just like you configure it to use those online services.

Slate™ Desktop is automatic. It generates machine translated segments for your computer-assisted translation tool much like online services work automatically.

Slate™ Desktop has mature technologies. It has exactly the same machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies used by online services for over a decade.

Slate™ Desktop delivers a “brand” of quality. Some translators prefer the “Google brand.” Others prefer the “DeepL brand.” Some prefer the “Slate™ Desktop brand.” You get the idea.

How is Slate™ Desktop different from the online services?

Slate™ Desktop runs on your PC, not the Internet. It works in the background and delivers machine-translated segments without sending your customer’s information to the Internet.

Slate™ Desktop‘s machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies are configured for one or a few translators. Online services configure their technologies for millions of users.

Out of the box, Slate™ Desktop does not instantly translate. Unlike online services, you must first build a machine translation model to “teach” Slate™ Desktop how you want it to translate.

Hold on. I said your colleagues found Slate™ Desktop helps them realize their goals, and one goal is productivity. This third difference adds work. It sounds like a nightmare. No one wants to do more work! Let’s look deeper and see how it works.

Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence

Machine learning technology is the heart of modern machine translation services. It “studies” translation memories for hours, days or weeks depending on the size of the translation memories. And it learns the vocabulary, grammar, syntax, glossaries, and how to translate. Finally, it saves that knowledge in translation models.

Most online services “teach” their models with “generic” knowledge from many translation memories covering a broad range of topics. As a result, these services are configured to sacrifice translation quality in favor of serving millions of users across a broad range of topics.

Some online services “teach” their models with specialized knowledge from translation memories about that specialty. As a result, these “customized” services are configured to deliver better quality translations than generic systems, for translation work about the specialty, but quality degrades significantly outside the specialty.

If machine learning is the heart of modern machine translation services, artificial intelligence technology is the soul. It uses the knowledge in a model to generate translation for source language segments. When knowledge is missing from the model, the artificial intelligence generates a senseless and unusable translation.

So, systems like machine translation that rely on machine learning can save a lot of mediocre knowledge across a broad range of topics or they can save excellent knowledge about a specialty. Broad knowledge systems are easier and less expensive. Specialty system are complex and expensive. I was looking for a breakthrough that make specialty systems easier and less expensive so more translators can use them.

Breakthroughs In Complexity and Cost

Before Slate™ Desktop, it was complex and expensive to build a customized model for a specialty. It required experts with specialized skills. It required expensive computers. It required a team of experts in the specialty. Therefore, customization was only cost-effective for very large volume projects.

Slate™ Desktop is a breakthrough in complexity. Its simple. It’s easy to use. Translators without specialized technical skills can build customized models using the same Windows PCs that runs their computer-assisted translation tools. They can build customized models using their own translation memories created with their computer-assisted translation tools as they worked in the specialty.

Slate™ Desktop is a breakthrough in cost. You buy a one-time fixed fee license. There are no subscriptions, no usage fees. Translators, teams and small agencies can build and use customized models for a fraction of the cost to hire experts with specialized skills or use online services.

Slate™ Desktop‘s breakthroughs open opportunities for all translation projects to benefit from simple and inexpensive customized models. Projects of any size and in any price range have access to better quality from customized models.

Do these breakthroughs really create opportunities? After all, the last “difference” between Slate™ Desktop and online services requires extra work because out of the box, Slate™ Desktop does not instantly translate. Yes. The opportunities are real and here’s why.

We know that to build a custom model with better quality requires translation memories. So, let’s look at some alternate design strategies.

  • Slate™ Desktop could package generic models. It would be more expensive to cover extra costs and quality would suffer just like it does with the online services.
  • Slate™ Desktop could offer an expert service to build your models, just upload your translation memories. It would be expensive and your customer’s confidentiality agreements would be at risk.

I know that requiring you to build a custom translation model seems like a big inconvenience. In fact, however, it is one of Slate™ Desktop‘s biggest advantages. So, let’s segue to the third question.

Why use Slate™ Desktop instead of the online services?

I’ve done everything I can to make Slate™ Desktop easy to use. That’s why machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies run seamlessly on MS Windows. That’s why Slate™ Desktop is “custom machine translation made simple.” So…

The first answer to “why” is because it’s easy to build custom translation models with Slate™ Desktop.

When Slate™ Desktop studies translation memories with translation units that you translated, it learns your bilingual knowledge, your vocabulary and your translating style. This step “teaches” Slate™ Desktop to translate like you translate, to deliver quality that meets your quality demands, to generated the best possible custom translations for you.

The 2nd answer to “why” is because your custom translation model delivers excellent translations with quality your way.

But after a closer look, these answers are incomplete. So, let’s step back. The results below describe about 90% of all customer experiences. Unfortunately, I can’t guarantee you’ll experience these results because about 10% of customers don’t.

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Even though I can’t guarantee your results, I can and do guarantee my commitment to serve you and to help you get your best results. My 60-day money-back guarantee embodies that commitment.

The 3rd answer to “why” might be “because maybe you shouldn’t.” You have a 10% chance that Slate™ Desktop will not work to your quality demands, BUT you will never now until you to try Slate™ Desktop. You’re welcome to exercise our 60-day refund policy.

There’s a huge elephant in the room sitting next to the requirement to build your models. If you don’t have translation memories, you simply can not use Slate™ Desktop. That is, you must have a supply of translation memories. In general, more translation units are better – if they’re in the specialty.

The 4th answer to “why” might be “because maybe you can’t.” You need translation memories and maybe you don’t have any. I can’t predict exactly how many translation units will work for you, but if you start with fewer than 80,000, Slate™ Desktop will probably not work for you.

Finally, I know that Slate™ Desktop is not the only game in town. Some generic online services are pretty darn good for some language pairs and some generic subjects. So…

The 5th reason “why” is “because instead of” is inaccurate. You don’t have to use one to the exclusive of another. You’re free to use Slate™ Desktop “in cooperation with” other services. Slate™ Desktop is as much an expression of your freedom to choose as it is a pursuit of quality and productivity. With no per-word fees, no subscriptions and extra costs, it’s a pretty good deal.

The Four Original Goals

I opened this conversation with a simple question. Are you looking to achieve any one or more of four goals in your efforts adapt to today’s technology-driven business trends? In light of breakthroughs in technology, complexity and cost, let’s continue our conversation by exploring how Slate™ Desktop addresses those four goals.

Translation Quality: Thirty-one customers worked with me to analyze 73,150 parallel segment pairs translated by humans, their customized models and a popular online service. The translations covered 16 language pairs with 5 source languages and 13 target languages across 13 different specialties. On average, Slate™ Desktop‘s quality exactly and independently matched the translator’s quality 7 times more often than the online service. This is a link to detailed reports for all 31 customers.

Productivity: The analysis also estimated that each translator experienced a 50% reduction in the post-edit work to fix the erred custom segments compared to the online counterparts. Overall, work reduction from exact matches and editing resulted in a 25% to 30% increase in productivity. In practical terms, the customers now finish what were 5-day jobs in 3 or 4 days. This is a link to the analysis of the 31 comparisons.

Competitive Edge: Countless translators around the world post-edit every day. They start with the same erred generic segments from online services. They do the same work to fix the errors. Nothing distinguishes one from the other. Slate™ Desktop and your custom translation model are unique. Your productivity and translation quality distinguish you and give you a competitive edge.

Customer Confidentiality: Slate™ Desktop runs on your PC. Whether you’re building a customized translation model or working in your computer-assisted translation tool, Slate™ Desktop never sends your customers’ information to the Internet.

A Right Choice for Everyone

You know your goals. You see how breakthroughs in technology, complexity and cost open new opportunities to achieve them. You have a good idea of how Slate™ Desktop sets itself apart from online services. It’s a good foundation.

Whether you’re an individual translator, an agency or small language service provider… whether you work with one language pair or dozens… one of these links takes you to a product that’s right for you.

Slate™ Desktop – Pro sets the standard for full-featured assistive translation software for professionals. It’s a convenient drop-in replacement for cloud-based machine translation services that eliminates the need for Internet connections.

Slate™ Desktop – Starter is our entry-level product. It follows Slate™ Desktop – Pro‘s lead, with standard assistive translation features for professionals. It’s a convenient drop-in replacement for cloud-based machine translation services at a price that meets every budget.

Slate™ Connect includes only the connector utility to use engines in your CAT. It imports engine packages created with other products, like Slate™ Desktop.

Slate™ Corpus is an application to prepare translation memories for conversion to engines on other Slate products. There are no utilities to build engines or connect to CATs.

Slate™ Toolkit is a collection of free open source software to generate and use phrase-based statistical machine translation (SMT) models. It is the only MS Windows compatible collection of SMT utilities and serves as the foundation for our commercial Slate™ Desktop products.

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COMING SOON: Slate™ Student will be more than software. It is a 60-day online course that teaches how machine translation works. The course includes quizzes, practical exercises and a free trial license reinforce your learning. Your instructor reviews your results and coaches you through the learning.