Mobile menu

Pages in topic:   [1 2 3] >
Translators: There is no future for 90 % of us.
Thread poster: Maya Jurt

Maya Jurt  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 04:56
Member (2002)
French to German
+ ...
Jul 7, 2008

After years of absence, I am back (at proz).
For this is simply more than I can take.
Let's hear the conclusion before I state my case:

In ten years from now (maybe five), 80 to 90 % of all proz translators will be replaced by machine translations.

I say this because already today, what I see is so absolutely lacking in quality that a Google or Systrans translations can almost replace what is delivered. Fortunately, machine translation will still need highly specialized and detail-oriented professionals who love research and have a 100% understanding of their second/third etc. language. They will be busy translating messages that are not 90 % technical, but 80 % communication related. And their rates will be triple or quadruple of what is offered on proz. Will you be part of this elite? Ask yourself.

Today, I got a mail from a freelancer asking me to translate 15 pages of a pdf document - encripted not converitble - for 15 EUR per page. That person ha sread my profile but ignored the warning:

Note to potential clients: When our FairTradeNet affiliates say they care about customers, they really mean it. And quality is what we deliver, even if the client only requests speed. We receive many inquiries per week, from agencies having read these testimonials. We have to decline most, because our correspondents neglected to consult our rates. Quality has its price: a fair price. Please consult our rates! Thank you.

I wrote back , giving our rates. She wrote back saying the the rates she offered were not below our rates, but she offered a per page rate and the pdf doc was not convertible.

WOW!

I asked her to send me the pdf. I converted it with a well known software and sent a rtf doc to her - free of charge, saying that maybe, she wanted to do the job herself. You know what? That super translator ..."highly qualified and experienced freelance translator providing a wide range of quality translation work for English, French and German.... my clients are international and located all over the globe. ...I offer high standard business, legal and technical translation including software localization and engineering. Similarly, this high quality standard applies to my translations of literature, philsosophy (sic)and more generally to all text out of the field of humanities as well as to my subtitling offer. My professional background enables me to rendre (sic)all content in its full complexity whilst paying the appropriate attention to the source text’s style and expressive intention, and I can ensure accurate and reliable work within tight deadlines... " ...ta-ta-ta..., offered EUR 0.45 per word.

Easy to hide behind a pdf document.
Difficult to believe in a super translator that cannot convert a pdf into word or rtf.

No wonder that once she got the rtf doc. for free, there was no answer anymore.
All I thought was due was a "thank you". Oh no, one should not expect that "translators" will think five years ahead. Because in five or ten years from now, all of us who just want jobs without caring about quality will be gone, replaced by machines. And that's a hell of a crowd, believe me. And this person, imbued of herself, will be part of it. And you?

There is another situation that bothers me: we get people wanting to work for our network - because we pay better than most - and after having checked their credentials and samples, we accept them. Then we ask them to translate. And the result is dismal. Word-to-word-translation, no subject research, no style. We spend ours correcting them and ask for a feedback, but we just get the job back with no comment, a few typos corrected. No comment, just the bill.

There are many more examples that make me think. Don't people in this profession want to progress, to learn from mistakes? This really beats me.

Maya





[Edited at 2008-07-07 22:42]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:56
German to English
+ ...
I don't agree Jul 9, 2008

I guess I see a different corner of the profession than you, because my assessment is not nearly as dire.

First of all, I disagree that MT will knock 80-90% of translators out of the profession. ProZ is not representative of the profession as a whole, just the translators who participate in online marketplaces and forums. I'm sure that there are many fine translators (can think of several myself) who are perfectly technologically literate, but who prefer not to participate in online forums. And they're doing fine businesswise. In addition, there has always been a "bottom tier" of people in any profession who can't make it in the long run, whether due to lack of skill, lack of business acumen, unwillingness to adapt to change or whatever. That's inevitable. I've also said before on these forums that if MT can handle the boring, repetitive work, then good riddance, and if translators make that type of work their specialty, then they're barking up the wrong tree.

Regarding the translator you mention - there were typos in this person's profile and you believed the quality hype? When someone offers rates way below your level, simply delete the e-mail and move on - use the energy to court higher paying direct or specialty agency clients.

And as for the translators who want to work with you, you said "There is another situation that bothers me: we get people wanting to work for our network - because we pay better than most - and after having checked their credentials and samples, we accept them. Then we ask them to translate." Ditch the credentials and samples and go straight to the translation part. Use test translations that are typical of the type of work you receive. That separates the wheat from the chaff very quickly. You can even pay a minimal fee if you feel badly about asking for tests. This is why I don't understand the general aversion to test translations - I don't mind doing them, because I get to see a representative sample of the type of translations a client might want plus a peek into the way they work. They get to see me in action, and we can both decide if we're a good fit. Win-win.

Anyway, chin up - if you're dedicated to quality and keep your skills updated, you'll be here for the long run!


[Edited at 2008-07-09 13:48]

[Edited at 2008-07-09 14:59]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
xxxwonita
China
Local time: 23:56
This may well happen to you Jul 9, 2008

Maya Jurt wrote:

And the result is dismal. Word-to-word-translation, no subject research, no style. We spend ours correcting them and ask for a feedback, but we just get the job back with no comment, a few typos corrected. No comment, just the bill.



Send your own translation to a proofreader. The chance that you get the same comment is not at all so slim.

Cheers!

Bin


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Maya Jurt  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 04:56
Member (2002)
French to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Proofreading an absolute MUST! Jul 9, 2008

Bin Tiede wrote:

Send your own translation to a proofreader. The chance that you get the same comment is not at all so slim.

Cheers!

Bin


I would not dare, dear Bin, to deliver a translation not proofread by a colleague. And no, I don't get these comments. I just get a thorough proofing and we do pay well for it.

We always, ALWAYS work in teams.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Martin Wenzel
Germany
Local time: 04:56
English to German
+ ...
There is nothing like machine translation... Jul 9, 2008

I just got a tube of super glue from the local "Hanut". Glad I remember how to use it...

This is the result of a machine translation:

Use:

Can ina a twinkling glue to match the every kind of metals rubber leather plastics timber porcelain and ceramics jade jewelry handcraft product car glass electric applicances spare parts etc.

Method of using:

I use, will first two the water of coalescense things varnish rust the dust clearance is clean, and combine to beat to whet neat fit together the position. Because of its have not to fill the characteristic of the crevice...

xxxxxxxxxxxx

The poor translator who would have to correct something like that...not me anyway...


Cheers


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Maya Jurt  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 04:56
Member (2002)
French to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I do agree! Jul 9, 2008

Dear Daina,
In fact, I do agree with you, almost 100 %, when I turn things and arguments around.
I should of course have written :

"10 % of us will still be around in five years from new, despite machine translation."

Oh well, I was just miffed and frustrated and exasperated; it was one of those days one wishes to emigrate to Timbuktu, where there is no Internet and no computer and no nothing.

Just nice people who help and get help because they appreciate their fellow human beings and have learned to say "thank you". People who got "Kinderstube", where ever they come from.

Cheers (and thanks for taking the time to answer)

Maya

[Edited at 2008-07-09 15:11]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 03:56
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
So this is a bad thing? Jul 9, 2008

I personally believe that MT is a useless chimera that will not have any useful application beyond the sort of controlled language which most writers lack the discipline to use, but I have seen enough of the garbage that some people have tried to pass off as professional work to agree that MT could replace many of them today. Of course MT will still not yield a usable text, and I have better things to do than to edit such a mess.

Whether MT will have any real effect on the hopeless hordes I can't say - you'll probably always have a large number of clients who feel more comfortable dealing with a person, even if they are incapable of judging the quality of what they receive. The market for common languages is large enough that it will probably have plenty of room for incompetence for many years to come

If 90% are washed out, is this really a bad thing? Most of these people are clueless about running a business, marketing and setting rates that give that business long-term viability anyway. That applies to some very good translators too, but perhaps these can eventually take shelter in the few staff jobs remaining. In any case, it's really nothing to worry about. It's a segment of the market that really doesn't concern us. The ones in that 80-90% that have good skills and are willing to learn how to compete effectively will make it, and the rest will simply settle elsewhere. Or not.

Reading the boards here and in the BDÜ forum, I am repeatedly shocked by how many "translators" or wannabes don't know how to write an invoice, don't think to negotiate a rate before taking on a job (!!!) or who are otherwise deep in a pit of ignorance and lack the initiative to perform even the most basic research to get the information they need. When I see that from someone who writes "Dipl.-Übersetzerin" by her name, then I am really appalled and wonder about what goes on in higher education in this field. I'm not knocking beginners. There are plenty of these, and one can soon recognize which ones go about their investigations and business development in a way that one can see a good future for them. As for the rest - I'm too soft-hearted to kick them off the Ark personally, but if they drown in an MT flood, I don't think the rest of us will notice much or care.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:56
German to English
+ ...
Ok, Maya, let's agree on 20% :-) Jul 9, 2008

New restaurants in the US supposedly have a survival rate of about 20% after the first year. I wonder what the rate is for new small businesses across the board? Probably not better, so I guess translators would also fall into the range of these statistics.

I also agree with Kevin 100%.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Maya Jurt  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 04:56
Member (2002)
French to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Not so under all circumstances, I'm glad to say. Jul 9, 2008

Kevin Lossner wrote:


I personally believe that MT is a useless chimera that will not have any useful application beyond the sort of controlled language which most writers lack the discipline to use, but I have seen enough of the garbage that some people have tried to pass off as professional work to agree that MT could replace many of them today. Of course MT will still not yield a usable text, and I have better things to do than to edit such a mess.


Hello Kevin,
I believe you are right.
And I believe that you are wrong.

Don't judge machine translation by what we get if we try out Systran or Google or Babel or whatever. Machine translation for the general public may - or may not - give us the gist of something but not more.

However, machine translation is much more than that. If a company has important translation needs, it is well worth working with machine translation, feeding the monster with a glossary of company specific terms. If machine translation is tailored to a clients' need, it may become very useful and relieve the translator from trying to find technical terms that he/she has no clue which of the 12 possibilities mentioned in a technical dictionary applies.

Machine translation will become more and more efficient if it is made to answer the needs of the client. This is already possible today, but a very expensive proposition. Once the machine takes into account the company specific vocabulary, the translator must become a writer, correcting the text and make it readable, all the while understanding what the source text is intending to convey.

And this is exactly what most translators (90 % or 80 %, to agree with Daina) are - in my not so humble opinion - unable to do: to write, to write well.

But those who write well, those who do not stick to the words but follow the sense of the message, often do not see their own mistake. And that is why we all need proofreaders.

This is something I would like translators to ponder upon. It is not the words, stupid, it the sense!*

Maya

*For those who are not familiar with this pun and might be offended: in remembrance of Bill Clintons "it's the economy, stupid!".

[Edited at 2008-07-09 20:34]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Darek Koter
Local time: 20:56
English to Polish
+ ...
Quality Jul 10, 2008

There are many more examples that make me think. Don't people in this profession want to progress, to learn from mistakes? This really beats me.

Maya


Maya, to some it's all about quantity, not quality.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:56
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Happy if MT takes away half of the volumes! Jul 10, 2008

But the question is.... how much more translation will be done when MT is ripe for bigger volumes?

Translation memories were allegedgly going to destroy our profession, and in fact they have created a big translation momentum with many more opportunities and volumes for translators, as companies can now safely translate their letters, websites, marketing materials and manuals into 20 languages without the fear of incurring in the same cost again for a retranslation. Many companies who never translated manuals for the repeated costs now send big volumes out for translation.

So, my assessment is that, indeed, many translators will be out of job because they made their life around translating procedural stuff MT can translate easily even today. But the mere momentum of bigger translation volumes will create far more opportunities for professional translators who are able to translate all materials MT technology will never translate (well, when I say "never" I say in 50 years time).


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Daniel García
English to Spanish
+ ...
Exactly: MT might mean more work Jul 10, 2008

Tomás Cano Binder wrote:

But the question is.... how much more translation will be done when MT is ripe for bigger volumes?

Translation memories were allegedgly going to destroy our profession, and in fact they have created a big translation momentum with many more opportunities and volumes for translators, as companies can now safely translate their letters, websites, marketing materials and manuals into 20 languages without the fear of incurring in the same cost again for a retranslation. Many companies who never translated manuals for the repeated costs now send big volumes out for translation.

So, my assessment is that, indeed, many translators will be out of job because they made their life around translating procedural stuff MT can translate easily even today. But the mere momentum of bigger translation volumes will create far more opportunities for professional translators who are able to translate all materials MT technology will never translate (well, when I say "never" I say in 50 years time).


Exactly: in the last 50 years there have been several productivity increases for translators: electronic typewriters, word processors, computers, translation memories, more and better paper dictionaries, electronic dictionaries, the Internet.

All of these productivity increases have had these consequences:

- Translators can produce more pages per day now than 50 years ago with a better quality.

- Because of this productivity increase, the price per page (or word or line) has probably decreased (although not necessarily the overall income of a translator).

- Because the price per unit is lower, companies can affort to translate bigger volumes.

Even with the spread of English as universal language and all the new translation technologies, I have the impression that more is being translated now than ever before in history.

More people are making a life from translation now than 50 years ago (good or bad professionals alike).

I think that MT (which so far is of application in a limited number of languages anyway) migt increase the ammount of translations done overall.

All these MT files will have to be reviewed by somebody, so it might mean even an increase in the need of translators.

Just my two eurocents...

Daniel


Direct link Reply with quote
 

KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 03:56
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
The basis for judging MT Jul 10, 2008

Maya Jurt wrote:

Kevin Lossner wrote:
I personally believe that MT is a useless chimera that will not have any useful application beyond the sort of controlled language which most writers lack the discipline to use....


Hello Kevin,
I believe you are right.
And I believe that you are wrong.

Don't judge machine translation by what we get if we try out Systran or Google or Babel or whatever.



I don't pay any attention to those public "translation" engines. One idiot in the support department of a software company I used to work for insisted on using Systran to translate his commentaries, but I've never met anyone with any professional seriousness who would work with such things. The MT I'm talking about is the customized kind you mentioned, developed by a real expert in the field who presents at Localization World and elsewhere. Top stuff for MT, and one of my agency clients has been fascinated by it for years and has considered using it. The talk has gone on for a very long time, but nothing has gotten beyond the demo stage, because the reality is that these systems only "work" when the authoring language used is highly controlled. There are some organizations which can enforce such discipline, but frankly most are simply not capable of doing so, and the typical products of German technical writing are often far too idiosyncratic to have any real chance with such a system. In the end a real translation from scratch by a good translator ends up being faster and cheaper than any correction of machine-produced text.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Maya Jurt  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 04:56
Member (2002)
French to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
The quality of the source text !! Jul 10, 2008

Kevin Lossner wrote:

... the typical products of German technical writing are often far too idiosyncratic to have any real chance with such a system. In the end a real translation from scratch by a good translator ends up being faster and cheaper than any correction of machine-produced text.


This is another sore point. And so true: most texts we get (I get) to translate are so poorly written that the translator often has to ask himself (or the client) what is meant ... And when German engineers or financial whiz kids start to write in English, it gets worse. (The French are not much better).

Two thirds of the work our Association gets to translate must be edited, sometimes heavily. One of our clients asks us now to rewrite everything before translating it. Client education: it finally pays off.



Direct link Reply with quote
 

KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 03:56
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Soooooooo familiar! Jul 10, 2008

Maya Jurt wrote:

Kevin Lossner wrote:

... the typical products of German technical writing are often far too idiosyncratic to have any real chance with such a system. In the end a real translation from scratch by a good translator ends up being faster and cheaper than any correction of machine-produced text.


This is another sore point. And so true: most texts we get (I get) to translate are so poorly written that the translator often has to ask himself (or the client) what is meant ... And when German engineers or financial whiz kids start to write in English, it gets worse. (The French are not much better).

Two thirds of the work our Association gets to translate must be edited, sometimes heavily. One of our clients asks us now to rewrite everything before translating it. Client education: it finally pays off.



Very good. I'd say that 90% of the source texts I receive could use some serious editing, but it is rare that the clients are willing to make that investment, and I don't offer that service for my second language. On those occasions where I've been asked to recommend a copy writer for the revisions, it's been hard to come up with candidates I can trust to do the job well and on time. In the meantime I've become well-versed in making silk purses from sows' ears, but there are limits.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Pages in topic:   [1 2 3] >


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Translators: There is no future for 90 % of us.

Advanced search


Translation news





CafeTran Espresso
You've never met a CAT tool this clever!

Translate faster & easier, using a sophisticated CAT tool built by a translator / developer. Accept jobs from clients who use SDL Trados, MemoQ, Wordfast & major CAT tools. Download and start using CafeTran Espresso -- for free

More info »
TM-Town
Manage your TMs and Terms ... and boost your translation business

Are you ready for something fresh in the industry? TM-Town is a unique new site for you -- the freelance translator -- to store, manage and share translation memories (TMs) and glossaries...and potentially meet new clients on the basis of your prior work.

More info »



All of ProZ.com
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs