In general, technology makes our life easier. Programs automate manual actions, thereby reducing workload. Translation, like most other language tasks, is a complex process. Machines have not yet reached the level at which they can use language in the way that humans can. Translation is at least twice as difficult and several orders of magnitude deeper than writing in a language.

Given the versatility of translation, it seems quite logical that every professional translator in the world should enthusiastically accept technologies that make it possible to put his work on stream, speed up the translation process and simplify life. However, this is not always the case. And that’s why…

Google changed people’s understanding of translation

The advent of Google Translate has proven to be both the best and the worst event in the world of professional translation of our time. On the one hand, Google seemed to introduce society to translation in general, because people suddenly realized that translation services are an affordable and possible thing. This spurred market growth and demand as people quickly realized that free online translation software was delivering quality that was unacceptable in most cases, especially for business purposes.

On the other hand, although Google Translate has broadened the understanding of the need for translation in general, it has convinced people that high quality translation is easily achievable and affordable. In fact, this is not the case. Even though Google Translate is only free for a limited amount of use, many people still think that translating text is very easy and doesn’t cost anything. And, as a result, this greatly prevents translators from explaining to customers the value and cost of their work.

The development of translation software has stalled in many ways. It is discouraging for translators that so few developments are happening in the field of translation software. Some people find it incredible that the interface of most programs has remained almost unchanged since the 90s. For two decades now, it can hardly be said that there are available translation tools that would work according to the “what you see is what you get” principle when translating websites and other similar projects related to the Internet or digital technologies.

Perhaps even more annoying is the fact that the translator has to use so many different programs to get the source file, translate it, and send the finished material back. There are CAT programs, but their implementation in the sphere is rather sluggish, whatever one may say. So the chances of attaching the wrong version of the file, or accidentally piling up errors during the submission, or making other mistakes due to human factors are still quite high.

Translators give priority to quality all the time, while the client does not always. Ask a specialist what quality is acceptable, and he will answer “only the best!” Would a musician be satisfied with a mid-range concert? That’s the same for translators. Professionals have a very high standard for good translation. But ask the customer which translation can be called the best, and the answer will be “the one that is ready on time”. Often, customers easily sacrifice quality so that only the work is ready on time. Some customers – because they are not sufficiently aware of what translation is and usually do not speak the language with which the performer works – put the price first among the priorities, depending on the type of information and the purpose of the translation itself. When it comes to professional translation, the client basically gets what he paid for. This is true for any writing service. You don’t get the quality of a bestselling writer if you’re willing to pay only at the rate of an unpublished novice writer. Buyers are often stingy in this regard, but otherwise they are firmly driven by business needs.

How does this relate to technology? Many people expect fast, low-cost solutions, believing that machine translation programs can offer them, and translators know how dangerous it is. It is in vain to think that you can get the same level of quality if you are aiming to save money. Interference in the relationship between clients and translators is often caused by the fact that the priorities of the former are not aligned with the vision or goals of the latter. For example, a client has material for translation that will not be published anywhere, but the work must be submitted on time, regardless of its quality. However, it is almost impossible for a professional in the field of translation to do his job at a low level – just like a good musician will internally resist playing worse than he has learned in his life.


Why translators don’t like translation technology

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