Archive | April, 2014

Future of translation industry

30 Apr

I have read a lot of information related to predictions and forecasts for the translation industry recently. It seems that this is a hot topic now. It also seems that a lot of professionals try to speculate about what our “industry” will look like in the near future. Like any forecasts, they are more or less accurate; moreover, I believe that it is much harder for people to make any forecasts due to the pace the technology changes (even the speed at which this changes take place is a-change as well!). Which all means that any prediction translators or bloggers make are no way an accurate account of what things will look like even in 5 years. New social media can turn the direction of development 180 degrees, which happened numerous time before.


Well, a lot of experts speak about MT as literally the only type of translation services offered (and, what is more important, being in demand) by 2025. Others are more restrained, speaking about MT as one of many types of translation services available on the respective market. I tend to combine this two approaches and say that although MT will surely be there in abundance, it will be applied only to a low-quality content easily replaced by new content within a short period of time. In other words, why bother to hire a human translator for short ads that will be replaced by new ones at this or that web-site soon? Moreover, the MT technology is quickly developing into a sophisticated algorithm able to cope with almost any text out there. I am almost confident that the times will come when whole genres will be MTed only (by 2025).


It implies that translators will have to either diversify or specialize, either to find new areas of specialization, new language pairs, new types of services, or concentrate on two or three areas of specialization instead, becoming an obvious expert in these areas (read more on diversification in my precious post). Each of these paths has drawbacks. In the first case, you don`t want to be perceived as a “jack-of-all-trades”. On the other hand, specializing in only two or three areas can lead to a situation when you don`t have enough work to even pay your bills. Translators will have to balance out these two approaches.


Therefore there will be a huge demand on professionals who post-edit MTs. At a first glance, this seems to be a sad thing; on the other hand, this service has a lot in common with today’s proofreading or editing. The same poor quality (at least now), the same feeling of disgust (sometimes)… We all must be ready to face the situation.


On the other hand, if you don`t like to become an editor of this kind of translations, you must be ready to stand out from the crowd, or to become the obvious expert. This is not only about certificates, additional education, etc. Marketing activities will become an inseparable part of any freelancer`s experience, and at least one of the most important issues to address. No marketing will mean no clients (at least clients you would like to have). BTW, this rise of MT technology will eventually attract inexperienced or semi-professional translators, living “real” texts to experts and boutique-style translation agencies.


Have a nice day!


Review of “Diversification in the Language Industry” By Nicole Adams

11 Apr

I haven`t posted anything for quite a while, but now it`s time to speak up once again. Today I am going to share few thoughts about my recent purchase – a booked by Nicole Y. Adams called “Diversification in the Language Industry”. Well, physically speaking, it is a rather heavy item (some 320 pages). General appearance of the book already tells a lot about its content.
Frankly speaking, when I took it for the first time, I almost immediately thought that this would be another boring stuff sometimes you came across (well, the weight of the book is 550 grams). But right from the very first pages I realized that the book was (at least partially) a collection of absorbing interviews with both well-know and less acclaimed representatives of the language industry.

The core message of the book is diversification. Translators can no longer rely on translation alone. They have to keep their eyes open for new areas of specialization, types of services and (sometimes) language pairs. Still, there should be a healthy balance between diversification and pantophagy (do you want to be seen as a jack-of-all-trades?).
Well, I don`t think that this was a kind of revelation to me. Having read dozens of books about business, marketing, etc., I already had some thoughts about where to go to for additional money. To much of my regret, I haven`t (until now – 130 pages away from the first page of the book) read anything to the contrary (i.e. that diversification is an absolutely unnecessary item). I believe there are a lot of translators who make a decent living out of pure translation. On the other hand, do we still use pen and paper to translate texts? Haven`t we already diversified our business using Google Translate, CAT-tools, OCR programs, etc.? I believe we have. You don`t necessarily have to start doing something completely different, first because it will take much of your time (like DTP or voice-over).

What areas are considered to be examples of “lite” version of diversification? According to contributors of the book, these are transcreation, subtitling, copyediting, proofreading and rewriting. Voice-over, subtitling, interpretation, new language pairs, new subject areas and DTP are all examples of “pro” version of diversification, because they take much time, efforts and money.
To sum up, I have just started reading this (undoubtedly) great collection of thoughts of people who make a difference to this industry. I am sure there will be a lot of precious information further on. For those who want to take a look at what the industry will be within 10 years, read the chapter written by Oleg Rudavin. Sad but true. Or is it really that sad?