After four days of non-stop, gruelling bug reporting, I finally figured out where 'most of' my strings are coming from. In a recent talk I gave I said that in software localization the easy things are difficult to figure out and the difficult things are easy to figure out. The text you find in error messages, in the Help is repetitive, easy to translate, boring to the extreme, if it weren't for the consistency requirement, I could probably translate large segments of help files while peeling potatoes or knitting or playing chess. It doesn't require that much translating ability or good writing style. Now comes a single string such as 'All' and you have to wake up from your drowsy state. All can be translated in Portuguese as Tudo, Todos, Todas. Now what happens when this same little string, this little bugger is going to pop up under Doctors>All and Clinics>All and Hospitals>All ? A hell of a nightmare, that's what. Because you are supposed to say Médicos>Todos, Clínicas>Todas and Hospitais>Todos. You can go even as far as trying the compromise solution Tudo. But Médicos>Tudo does quite cut it, because doctors are people and Tudo refers to objects.
In short: I'm having major headaches to fix this software and the only person to blame is the software developer, not the localization team. I can't even begin to imagine the troubles my colleagues from other languages had. Portuguese is often the last language in the pipeline, we come after FIGS (French, Italian, German and Spanish.)
A job like this makes me yearn for translating journalism or marketing, where I spent hours wrecking my brain on the difficult not the easy stuff. But again it's the plague of specialization. Once you get specialized, no matter how hard you try to avoid these jobs they land on your desk. Attractive rates, large volumes: you end up taking them and then you just want to kick yourself and be done with them so you never have to look at those wretched strings again.
I often say to my colleagues that everyday I sit on my desk and wish I had a single, nice and neat Word file to translate, with no two-page long instructions or three glossaries to comply with or five pdfs with previous terminology to read through.
Okay, I confess I would probably end up translating it in Trados or Deja-Vu because they are more efficient and I'm so used to confining my translations to segment boxes.
I guess working is like that: the really difficult and tricky stuff is what makes you the most money. And perhaps I shouldn'be complaining at all: so many of my friends want to break into the profession, acquire experience or get more jobs. As for me, my sole desire this morning is inserting a dynamite stick in my D: drive.