Remote Interpreting: Feeling Our Way into the Future Published by The ATA Chronicle New communications technologies make interpreting available where it wasn’t in the past. We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shape the way we will work remotely, because what’s going on is game changing and shaking our profession from top to bottom. In April […]
“How are other professionals confronting the Age of Automation?”
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“Someone else posted an article by Jaron Lanier about our economic future in light of many professions being taken over by computers (journalism, music, translation). Apart from Lanier’s suggested solution, I’m wondering whether journalists, musicians, publishers, etc. have any lessons to teach us about how to meet the future. Does anyone know people in these areas? Have you read articles about workers retooling their skills, or educating clients about man vs. machine? I know the argument that we should specialize in specific areas and work with direct clients, but I’m thinking about the shorter term and more feasible suggestions.”
Join us in this Forum # 2 in Pursuit of One Voice and let us hear your opinion, input, comments, links!
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If you are interested,
send us an email at Claudia@brauertraining.com
or register for our Free Newsletter at http://www.brauertraining.com ==================================================================
I believe that translators and interpreters must quickly adapt to the changing world of the 21st Century or we may become one of the extinct professions in a couple of decades. I believe that translators and interpreters must start to bridge the gaps that have been created between the way we used to do our work just a decade ago, and the way in which the work will be done in the coming decades. I believe that utility is replacing eloquence in the language service industry and that productivity is replacing quality. I believe that in the world of tomorrow – and in many places today – usefulness is replacing expression.
I believe that the associations, the universities, the cohorts of translators and interpreters are not doing enough to educate current and future translators and interpreters about the tectonic shifts that the industry is undergoing and how the future looks, the skills that will be required, and the needed collaboration we have to start seeking with the giants in the software and hardware industry, who are changing the rules and creating the future. And we need to learn to partner with other stakeholders by creating power structures that are significant and have a unified purpose.
I believe in the power of technology for progress (and acknowledge that when misused it can bring about evil, but then, that is not the problem of technology, but of the users and abusers of it). Oh, by the way, I think that the future is already here.
Neo-Luddites would like to silence the messenger I am concerned that some associations of translators and interpreters, as well as some organizations that should otherwise be exerting their influence, and many in the profession at large, are simply adopting a 21st Century Neo-Luddite position that in my opinion only exacerbates the problem.
The 19th century luddites were “weavers in England who were being put out of work by the introduction of machinery and responded by organizing to attack and smash the new machines.”
The 21st century Neo-Luddites are “citizens who are opposed to technology not out fear, but rather out of a feeling of superiority over it. They argue against how it is being used and discourage its proliferation.” Some neo-luddites carry out their fight against technology using the same technological tools they are opposing (internet, computers, social media, to name but a few).
It is my opinion that the associations and other power groups that represent translators and interpreters must start adopting positions that acknowledge the entry of the large software and technology companies in the world of translation and interpreting, as well as the powerful stronghold of other stakeholders in the industry.
How are we, the original translators and interpreters, going to participate in the revolution occurring in the language services industry?
What makes us unique in the new world of instant, mobile, digital world of communication?
How do we remain relevant in a society of millennials and GenX’s who are digitally connected 24/7 and want to communicate in their language of preference, now and here (wherever they are, whenever they desire).
My question then is, in an industry that is growing 22% per year, where the opportunities to render state-of-the-art services to thousands of millions of users are real, why are translators and interpreters ignoring the shifts occurring in their marketplace?
What are the power forces in the industry (associations and power groups) doing so that translators and interpreters may participate as instrumental collaborators in our own future, instead of being relegated to an afterthought in a lengthy process?
Why are translators and interpreters being ignored as a group in the larger context of technology-driven operations and business/marketing strategies? What is the larger strategy of the power groups representing translators and interpreters?
I am the messenger. The message that I bring is a mixed one of optimism but harsh warnings for immediate actions.
So the Neo-Luddites “swiftly usher [the messenger] to the back entrance of the auditorium where he or she will be shoved down a flight of stairs or stuffed into a conveniently located dumpster”.
This rift between the pro-technology translators and interpreters and the Neo-Luddites only encourages the software and hardware industry giants to continue unnoticed eating your pie.
In the meantime, I am still the messenger for those who are tuned up to the reality of the day and want to listen. I do not want to make converts out of the non-believers. I want to raise awareness among those who want to listen.
Beware, translators and interpreters. You need to acquire totally new skills sets. You need to JOIN the digital revolution (not fight it). You need to understand mobile technologies (not discard them). You need to use the tools of the trade in the 21st Century (and learn what they are and what they can do for you). And you need to ask your power brokers to represent you at the table of decisions, so that your profession does not become extinct (instead of burying the head in the sand).
So, let me summarize it in another way:
There is a big rift in the translation/interpreting industry about the use (or not) of technology, including CAT tools, machine translation, remote video interpreting, phone interpreting and other technologies. One camp, me included, believes that we have to grow with the times, that we have to use all the technologies available, that we MUST keep up with the times.
Moreover, I believe we should have a stronger say in creating that future. The large software industry, including Google and Microsoft, are now investing millions of dollars in developing technologies to make them widely available to the masses. The camp I subscribe to states translators and interpreters must adapt quickly to the changing times and re-define what we do, how we do it and where we do it. We have to redefine who we are in the new millennium in order to remain relevant. I want to be a part of the new professional experience.
The other camp believes that many a thing having to do with technology is “below” a translator and interpreter’s intellect and that translators and interpreters should “fight” the software giants that are revolutionizing the industry and that the professionals should take a stand against the use of technology. Their argument is that if translators and interpreters “bow” to technology we will just become gadgets. They have expressed that such participation in the technological and digital revolution will only degrade the profession.
I believe that unless we URGENTLY and IMMEDIATELY become part of the conversation, the profession will disappear, as many other professions in the past when they did not keep up with the times. I believe translators and interpreters MUST become part of the equation by learning, adapting and using new technologies (although I do not provide direct training in such technologies, I do recommend you get trained in them).
The rift is huge and it is intense and some people are becoming extremely aggressive and want to silence the messenger. As the messenger, my task continues to be clear to me. I would like to tell the Emperor that he is running naked in his new invisible clothes.
I believe that translators and interpreters as a group need to demand that they be INVITED to PARTICIPATE in the discussions that large software and technology corporations are having, and which, in my opinion, are leading the industry into the 21st Century.
I believe we should start speaking with ONE VOICE. Right now, we are not even part of the discussion. We have been left behind. Already. We must run to catch up.
May 25 Go-To Free Meeting Online – In Pursuit of One Voice
On May 25th at noon Eastern Standard Time (U.S.), BRAUERTRAINING will host an Open Forum called IN PURSUIT OF ONE VOICE, via Go-To meeting.
The purpose of this first meeting is to hear all suggestions and comments from any translator, association or group, regardless of their affiliation, about how we, the community of translators and interpreters, by some counts 300,000 or more around the world, should move forward.
What makes us unique in the 21st Century?
How should we participate in the creation of our own future?
This is the opportunity for voices contrary to mine to express themselves clearly with action-able ideas for the future. Every opinion, from every camp, will be heard and taken into account. Minutes of all opinions will be compiled into a single document that will be distributed to all participants and through social media and networking venues. This will be the first of a series of monthly open forums IN PURSUIT OF ONE VOICE, hosted by BrauerTraining. Our only purpose initially is to open the conversation to create awareness and elicit participation.
Involvement is free by invitation. Send me an email to email@example.com with your email address OR go to my website www.brauertraining.com and register for my newsletter (you will automatically be added to the invitation list). Welcome to the future.
On may 4th I will be the endnote speaker at NETA‘s annual conference in Boston. It is an honor for me to join the courageous Bostonians that are rebuilding their lives. I truly admire their strength and resilience.
My presentation will address
Translators and interpreters must prepare
for a new trend that is changing the industry. In a growing Global market, where billions of end users consume information in their language of preference, the need for translation and interpreting services is growing at exponential rates. But with that growth also comes a change in attitude by the buyer and user of translation and interpreting products: “utility” is progressively being valued over “eloquence”. Huge software companies are seriously entering the industry to provide multilingual solutions, where “quality” will just be a “value added” sought by a few large companies that can “pay the price.”
Translators and interpreters need to be aware of the changes occurring in the industry if we want to remain relevant. In the coming years, the key words instant, digital and mobile will be vital to our survival as providers of the “missing link” (language access) in the new virtual world of global consumption of products and services. Any changes we want (or want to avoid) are up to us to fight for them. We, the original translators and interpreters, must become consciously active in designing the strategies for our own future. What is the profession going to look like in 20 years? We have to start answering that question from a perspective of the current reality and set out to project our future in the world.
We basically need two things:
– Start updating our skills set to meet the demands of the new customers. This means, understanding today’s technologies and today’s consumers of virtual, instant, mobile, digital products. We need, therefore, to become skillful at easily interacting with machines in order to compete in this new world.
– Start presenting a unified front. There are so many translation and interpreting associations, organizations, alliances, societies, fellowships etc., in different countries, promoting different perspectives, each with its own particular concerns. We need a world-wide unified agenda. We need to become one voice.
Read more about this event at the following links:
For translators and interpreters, words are literally the tools of our trade. It is with words, through words, in words, by words that we communicate. Thus, we must always be looking to expand our vocabulary. In this context, In April 2013 I will again join forces with ProZ.com to train translators and interpreters in the basic vocabulary of healthcare, finance, business and legal settings. I will also have a very special session called “chasing terms online”, where I explain the many tricks I have learned over the years finding the appropriate translation of terms in the Internet, and a final session on how to build your own glossaries. Each one of these sessions is 90 minutes long and will be available live at noon every Tuesday in April and after that by recorded video that you may see in your own schedule.
The first session provides the basic information and terminology used in the healthcare industry. Topics include information on the medical and healthcare professionals, anatomy and physiology, the main body systems and organs, diseases and illness, common medical conditions, symptoms, treatment options, and diagnostic tests, amongst others.
In the second session, you will get acquainted with the terms most commonly used in the (U.S.) courts, as well as the penal and law enforcement systems, immigration, and the major legal business systems and law specialties, with more than 500 commonly used terms.
The third session will provide the basic information and resources to study the terminology used in business settings and the financial industry. Topics include business concepts, organizational structures, human resources, contracts, marketing and sales, accounting, financial statements, multinational business, and global acronyms, amongst many others.
In the fourth session, you will learn to use the many free online glossaries and translation databases available for translators and interpreters; harness the power of the internet and make your search easier, faster, more productive and consistent, with some of the basic tricks of term research online in the 21st Century: Where to find the meaning of terms, how to combine words and phrases to retrieve information that is valuable to your search; where and how to search the internet; how to bookmark and create your lists of favorite FREE sites for easy search in the future. Topics include Web search operations, online glossaries, databases and other freebies, reliable resources, how to find the strongest source and bookmarking for future use.
Finally, the bundle wraps-up with a session on how to create your personal glossaries, making it easier for you to work on translations or prepare for your interpreting assignments, while ensuring consistency and accuracy for the future. You will learn a basic methodology to search for terms, working with your own template, creating and gradually accumulating your personal glossary by client or domain; learn what, when, and how to enter and retrieve information, change and update it. You may later use it online or print it for your own translations and interpretation, or you may wish to share it with your clients.
PREPARATION materials will be shared BEFORE each session, and HANDS-ON exercises to be completed AFTER each session. Each student is expected to be fully engaged with ACTIVE listening, individual thinking and processing of information, as well as hands-on note-taking and interactive activities. Every one of these is a fast-pace session with an upbeat and lively mood, requiring full engagement on the part of the participant.
Join me for this exciting bundle of knowledge!
This is a reprint of an October/2012 article I published in IMIA Viewpoints Online Newsletter (http://www.imiaweb.org/members/viewpoints.asp)
I recently read that “utility is valued over eloquence as a measure of translation quality”(1) by some of the big TECH companies entering the translation and interpreting field, including Intel, Microsoft, Asia Online and Spoken Translation. The Taus report that talked about that was specifically referring to the “coming of age” of “real-time multilingual chat”, which is part of an entirely new array of products that are already being offered by high-tech translation automation companies; these new products are changing the landscape of bilingual and multilingual output (and translation/interpreting) in the Global Village of the 21st Century.
If this is the new industry trend, “quality” will become a “value added” –not a core requirement– sought by “some” (read “few”) companies. Thus, the new industry concept of “utility” is becoming more important than “eloquence” –which to date has been our measure of quality— and this paradigm shift will totally change the roles of the players in this industry, including us, professional translators and interpreters.
I will not discuss here the “good or evil” nature of the recent automation developments in the translation industry, as there are fervent supporters of one and the other position. My view is that the 21st Century has arrived and many translators and interpreters seem to be at odds with that simple fact. So, in my opinion, fighting technology will not serve the cause of the industry. Unless we become part – and an active part – of the conversation, we will not have a say in its development.
We need to start participating in the technological revolution by voicing our stand (other than mere “opposition”, which will just delay the inevitable), and making POSITIVE contributions so that we make ourselves indispensable to and remain part of the industry…. otherwise, the geeks will try –and probably succeed in time — in replicating what we do (remember quality is no longer the driver for a large portion of the users of the outputs of our industry).
I believe the tech industry has been rather successful at creating algorithms and software and have been pretty good at the basics of language transfer. They have not figured out how to transfer content yet, but they are getting there. As I see it, the fact that most of the software still outputs low-quality products is just a matter of “infancy”. This child will “mature” faster than you think. Few people at the height of the industrial revolution believed that automation would cause the displacement of millions of manufacturing jobs. So we, standing at the beginning of the digital/mobile communication revolution, must learn from history and anticipate the changes that will most probably happen, and participate in them today, so that we may partake in their advancements and help drive and shape their future.
The paradigm shift comes about from the fact that the truths we held sacred in translation and interpreting may be on the verge of disappearing. Mainstream needs, the advent of mobile technologies, the incursion of the TECH industry in the world of translation and interpreting is changing the basic parameters of the entire translation and interpreting industry. The basic assumptions we hold dear and which are comfortably embedded in our way of doing things are starting to fade away. Winners of battles write the history of those battles. I certainly would like to be part of those who write the history of translation and interpreting in the 21st century.
Just as the debate in the translation industry centers around the use of TM and MT, the debate in the interpreting industry is around the use of phone-interpreting, video-interpreting, web-based-interpreting, and interpreting for mobile digital users, among others. I believe the discussion cannot continue being “if” but must shift to “how” we will participate (i.e., not if we should use these technologies, but how can we use them and what do we need as an industry for consistency). We have to be aware of the changes occurring in the industry if we want to remain relevant. Any change we wish for (or wish to avoid) is ours to fight for.
So, in this fast-pace world of the 21st Century, “instant” is the concept of choice in service provision, and based on this, the larger companies coming from the software and hardware industries, from the video and gaming industries, are penetrating the language industries. They are having initial success as the newcomer competitors of traditional translators and interpreters. Their final products are years away from the “Eloquence” by which we have measured our products during thousands of years but rather, they are now striving to achieve “Utility” — the usefulness of instant access that these automated services are providing.
The silver lining is that, although these providers of technical solutions are slowly but surely gaining wider margins of market share, in doing so they have expanded the actual market size to levels unimaginable just a few years ago. So, although they are taking more and more of the market as a percentage, their own presence has multiplied the marketplace several times in size (and will continue doing so). In this way, translators and interpreters are in higher demand than they have ever been in history and our services are being recognized by mainstream as “vital” to the functioning of this new multilingual and multicultural world.
The crumbling down of geographic barriers allows for the provision of services in ways we could never have anticipated. The downside: we are no longer an elite group of intellectuals or artists but are now part of a larger group of artisans. As always in history, there is room for those who wish to remain being artists and intellectuals, to continue rendering high-quality services to the few buyers who will continue to exist. The rest of us will now be a mainstream trade, maybe at the level of law or medicine (i.e., there is the Judge and there is the paralegal, there is the surgeon and there is the home health attendant…. and everything in between).
The future is here. There is no such thing as “it will not happen”. It is happening. Translators are being replaced by machine translation at an alarming speed. Those translators who fail to see the trend will be left without a job in a matter of a decade. Post-MT editing is strongly becoming the trend in the “normal” industry and now, with this latest concept –changing eloquence for utility– the trend will change faster than ever as machine translation becomes more and more common, easier to access and “acceptable” in terms of its output. What I am reading here is that the end-users of translation products are accepting a mediocre product provided it is cheap, fast (machine-translation produced) and relatively accurate (the last hurdle yet to be achieved by new technologies, but fast on the way to getting there).
Now then, Interpreting still may hold a couple of decades more of life “as we know it” because it is a bit more complex… or is it? I have lately seen text to voice produce some amazing results… yes, one language only, but once they figure out the “magic” element – and they will (the question is When) – then development will go ballistic….
So, it is predictable that in the future (which in many places is today), people will not care about construction of the sentences or grammar or inherent meaning of the source language, or even nuances. They will just want to get the “general idea” and that is all they want. Well, at least the larger portion of buyers of translation and interpreting services. Of course there will be many others out there that will still strive for quality. Moreover, for which quality becomes even MORE important than before (thankfully, the healthcare industry seems to be one of them…. the question is… until when? Market forces drive industries, whether we like it or not).
So, for me, the issue is, how are we, the professional interpreters and translators, helping to shape the industry we will be working in? Other than complaining, what are we doing? Other than opposing progress, what positive contributions are we presenting? What levels of “association with” the developers of the new world are we engaging? Where is our strength as part of the “knowledge” pool of services in the world? How can we harness that power?
As I see it, the extraordinary growth of machine translation resources is evidence of the exponential improvement in quality in the past decade. I do not use the term exponential lightly. Growth and improvements in our industry are being exponential. So, I believe that quality translation might be achieved in one or two decades with machine translation. Quality interpreting might take a little longer, but not too much.
Yes, I know this is blasphemy. But believe me, it is reality. Once upon a time, about 15 years ago I thought Translation Memories were garbage and would go nowhere. I thought this day, when TMs are almost a requirement for the job, would never
come. Well, it is here. So, let’s face reality. There are some robots in Japan that are already capable of basic interpreting. Yes, very basic. Just as TM was so basic 10 years ago.
The future of the translation industry is being taken over by the big software companies that are creating software capable of penetrating the “magic” of translation. Once they get there, it will be like any other industry of the 19th century. Replicate, replicate, replicate.
Therefore, here is my proposal: We, the original translators and interpreters, who understand and drive “Eloquence” and not just “Utility” – we – must become very active in designing the strategies of our own future. We have to unite to create international infrastructures that support the “Eloquence” and not just the “Utility” — but not fighting with the software giants, that is a lost cause, rather providing alternatives to improve their products. Common infrastructure and common protocols should be our mantra now as an industry. A dispersed group of individuals will not achieve much.
What is the profession going to look like in 20 years? We have to start answering that question from a perspective of the current reality (mobile millenials) and not from the perspective of what we would “ideally” believe “should” be. Should does not work any more. Could is here to stay. We need to wake up to our new reality as a profession and set out to design the future that could be for us in this new Global Village of the 21st Century.
ProZ.com jut released a very important brief on the state of the translation industry. Let me quote one of the important sections therein:
Demand and growth
Indicators here are fairly positive. Almost 70% of translators asked are handling more volume now than just two years ago (around 12% were unsure if the volume had increased or not), and just under 70% report steady or increasing volume from 2011 to 2012 (5% were unsure).
According to Common Sense Advisory, the market for outsourced language services is worth US$33.523 billion in 2012, and it is calculated that the language services market is growing at an annual rate of 12.17% (up from 7.41% in 2011). The US Department of Labor estimates that “employment of interpreters and translators is expected to grow 42 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations.” EMSI, in a recent report, stated that translation and interpretation services have grown by approximately 50% since 2007 in the US.
These indicators would seem to match with the concept of a “flat world” in translation as we saw at the beginning of this report. Demand is healthy, growth has increased. How is this affecting freelance translators in terms of their own income and growth?”
I recommend that all translators and interpreters take a look at this important document @ http://www.proz.com/industry-report/2012.