Can the new translation technology such as MT or cloud translation memories put the pros out of business? If this question is on your mind, be sure to read the article by Valerij Tomarenko of Tomarenko Fachübersetzungen. Valerij blogs about his concerns about the future and suggests that the pros can distinguish themselves from the commoditized part of the market by getting included in a searchable database of professional translators. This could be a database run by a national translators’ association or any other group, for that matter, as long as it’s marketed to, and recognized by, clients as a source of excellent translators.
Focusing on What We Can Control
While there’re many facets to this problem, I’d like to comment on where it all begins—concerns about technology. With all the changes taking place so rapidly, I feel a little bit insecure, too, because I’m not sure what the exact impact they’ll have on my business. But what’s more important to me is that this influence is external; that is, I can’t control it. But I want to focus on something that I can control. And this is embracing the new technology to be more productive.
Riding the Wave
I’ve trained myself to be generally inspired about change rather than protective. Change has become an integral part of our lives. It’s here to stay. The sooner we’re able to adjust, the better. I believe that my three-year old won’t even know such concept as change management when he grows up.
More specifically, I look forward to the cloud TMs. I’ve been longing for this kind of technology for years. The original idea behind the translation memory tools was to make sure people didn’t have to translate the same word or phrase ever again. But with the local, disparate, and poorly managed TMs of today, this has always been just another slogan. The cloud may make it possible, however, to create advanced and comprehensive TMs that’ll help translators find translations of terms, phrases, and even entire sentences. The more translations we’ll be able to collect and share through the cloud, the faster we’ll be able to translate. What once was a slogan may finally become reality.
I feel the same way about machine translation. While it isn’t suitable for every text and can be misleading, I believe that as a whole, this is a powerful technology that helps translators do what we’re all expected to do in this day and age—do less with more. Isn’t having at least a few correctly translated words in a segment better than having nothing at all? If a task is easy enough for a machine to handle, I’d rather delegate it and spend my time and energy somewhere else where it’s going to create more value. Why would I want to manually do something that a machine can do for me faster and cheaper? Isn’t this the same reason why we’re using things like spell checkers?
Professional translators, at least those who focus on top quality, can actually benefit from the new translation technology. Even if it makes the market more competitive, it’s up to us to make ourselves more competitive, too, by embracing the innovations.
Have a comment? Please raise your voice via the comment form below or on Twitter.