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German Translation Software

Making your translation work routine faster and more efficient!

german translation software

For a German translator, time is money. That means making your translation process efficient will have a major impact on your bottom line.

So I've rounded up a selection of useful German translation-related software designed to help you work faster and more accurately.  (For CAT tools - I've listed good translation programs to help you here.)

After trawling through translator forums and analysing various opinions, I’ve selected a few of the most popular software offerings for you to consider:

1. Sound Editing and Recording Software

Occasionally, I have to translate German video text into English, with the English translation then being used for voiceovers. This is a challenging task for the German translator – not only does the English translation need to be exactly the right length to fit the video, it also has to reflect the action going on on the screen (“Here you see the xxx”) at the right moment.

It helps to use recording software to record your own translation, to play it repeatedly and check it all fits.

A great piece of software is the Audacity sound editor – it’s open source and therefore free, so click for more information and to download.

2. Transcription Software

The real time-wasting element in transcription and translation (turning spoken German into written English) is the need to continually rewind and replay segments of audio to check the correctness of your transcription.

I often transcribe and translate German audio recordings directly into English text and this means I need to listen to the German segments repeatedly. Solution? Install Soundscriber.

Soundscriber is open source software, i.e. free. It really cuts down the time involved by automatically replaying sections of the recording – say each 5 second stretch of audio 3 times – before going on to the next section. This is called “walking”. You configure speeds and lengths as you wish.

An alternative is Express Scribe, free transcription playback software by NCH software. You control audio playback either using a foot pedal or hotkeys on your keyboard.

3. Character Count and Word Count Software

Your German translation software suite needs to include word count software. However, different word count software gives different word counts, unfortunately. Why?

Some count page headers and footnotes etc. and some don’t. And there seems to be no definition of what makes a word, e.g. won’t = 2 words or 1? Is 3,000,000 one word, three words, or not a word at all?

As your income as a translator depends on word counts (see here how translation jobs are charged) it’s important to get it right!

If you trawl the translator forums and discussions, you’ll find that – if you aren’t happy with your standard Microsoft offering or the word count facility on your TM - the following word count software is most frequently recommended:

1. Anycount Word Count and Character Count Software – good for .ppt and .pdf files and relatively inexpensive.
2. FineCount – although only for “non-commercial” use, so perhaps not always appropriate.
3. CountAnything 2.1 – another free application which covers most formats you’ll come across.

4. Optical character recognition

It happens all the time - I get sent a PDF with a request for a quote, which means first converting the PDF into Word format.

When I find my standard PDF reader can't do it, I turn to onlineocr.net, my newly discovered optical character recognition (OCR) tool of choice. It has the added advantage of being free and requiring no registration, for up to 15 files an hour.

5. Voice Translation & Speech Recognition Software

Huge amounts of time and energy are being invested in speech recognition technologies, and it's got to a standard which makes it a really useful tool for translators.

Presuming you work on your own, or away from everyone else, voice recognition software allows you to speak your translation out loud and it will be automatically transcribed into text on your computer.

As someone who wonders what another 20+ years of typing will do to my finger and wrist joints, speech recognition and transcription software will play quite a role in my future German translation work.

In the translator forums there's only really one brand of translation software that stands out - Dragon Naturally Speaking, now at version 15. Depending on the version - home , professional, premium - it can be pretty inexpensive (under 100 euros) and certainly does the job. 

I'm still using Dragon Naturally Speaking 13 Home which I find it really effective, especially for my book translations.

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German to English Translation

Joanna Scudamore-Trezek

I'm a German to English translator living and working in Vienna, Austria. I turn German texts into clear and accessible English, allowing clients to present their stories, ideas and information to a completely new audience. My business and marketing clients rely on me to get their message across clearly and effectively.  How can I help you today?

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