Pages in topic:   [1 2] >
Future for translation industry
Thread poster: Ben Harrison

Ben Harrison  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:17
Member (2013)
German to English
Jun 30, 2013

Particularly aimed at those who have been in the industry for some time, how do you see the translation industry evolving in the next 10-20 years (I do German, Spanish and French into English, and specialise in the Financial/Travel-Tourism sectors) for those of us starting out now?

Does it look promising regarding increased workloads/older age profile of translators about to retire fairly soon thus opening up opportunities, or are machine translation improvements and downward pressure on rates going to have a bigger influence the other way?

Any replies are greatly appreciated!

Ben


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Texte Style
Local time: 01:17
French to English
Old translators don't retire Jun 30, 2013

They just keep going on and on and on...

Direct link Reply with quote
 

DLyons  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 00:17
Spanish to English
+ ...
Specialize! Jun 30, 2013

Ben Harrison wrote:

Does it look promising regarding increased workloads/older age profile of translators about to retire fairly soon thus opening up opportunities, or are machine translation improvements and downward pressure on rates going to have a bigger influence the other way?


IMHO, machine translation is going to take over the low to medium sector of the market in 10 years. What will be left is Medical, Legal etc specialized work for translators with domain expertise and who can be held legally responsible i.e. are insured and can be sued.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 01:17
English to Polish
+ ...
There is a future? Jun 30, 2013

The future of the translation industry is translating more for less, and faster.

The current trend in localisation and CAT-intense/IT-related translation is short jobs with short deadlines and long instructions. Normally, that should lead to somewhat good rates, but it doesn't.

Translators will keep being gullible and apologetic and believing that the customer is always right, including issues of grammar and style, when a barely conversant manager corrects a professional translator.

There will probably still be plenty of translators with powerful CVs but very limited ability to understand a complex sentence (people with Master's degrees FFS), as well as a good number of philology and applied linguistics graduates translating into foreign languages in which they can't string a sentence together.

Ben Harrison wrote:

Does it look promising regarding increased workloads/older age profile of translators about to retire fairly soon thus opening up opportunities, or are machine translation improvements and downward pressure on rates going to have a bigger influence the other way?


I've met human translators who are worse than Google Translate. Knowing a Machine Translation tool well and having experience in editing its output will probably soon become not only cheaper but also safer than recruiting uncertain translators from the vast market. There's a limit to how bad GT can be, and that limit is constantly being pushed, while the education system is constantly sinking lower and lower. The outcome is predictable. I lament the day, which will probably come soon, when professional translators are limited to PEMT-ing. No longer actually translating but only supervising whatever the machine has produced. So sad.

I suspect that for some time the justice system will hold out due to its innate conservatism and technological delay, but once the justice system realises or even suspects that PEMT-ing is a viable option from the point of view of quality and accuracy in comparison to human translation, it won't hesitate to undercut translators. I wouldn't be surprised if access to interpreters were to be curtailed for defendants at law, either.

As the rates continue to drop, I predict that the best translators will make their exits. Lawyer linguists will focus on legal practice, high-profile medical translators will don the white coat again, engineers will go back where they came from. Those without degrees will get them and make their own a while later or even become paralegals, paramedics etc. already. Students will eventually realise what's going on and give up on translation as a career even before it starts. They'll opt for language certificates and some real work instead.

This said, the zombie industry may kill itself some time before MT takes over.

[Edited at 2013-06-30 22:16 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Charlotte Farrell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:17
Member (2013)
German to English
+ ...
Notes on the present Jun 30, 2013

I have the exact same language combinations as you and also work mainly in the financial/business fields, and despite the fact that I've been translating professionally for under a year, I'm getting a good amount of work. I don't know about the future but know that for now, at least, it's fairly promising.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 05:47
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
I don't plan to retire any time soon Jul 1, 2013

Sorry to disappoint you, but I don't plan to retire any time soon. May be after ten years (I am fifty now), I may think of reducing the quantum of work. So new translators should not be pinning their hopes on their seniors vacating space for them, instead they should create a space for themselves through their professionalism, good business ethics, and quality in their work.

Regarding the future, a lot depends on the language pair, as well as on political, economic and cultural developments.

My language pair (English to Hindi) represents a fairly active economic unit, one of the fastest growing in the world in current times, though it has slowed up a bit in recent months. So it attracts a lot of commercial interest which translates into translation work for me. I have no reason to believe that would change in the near future.

MT, is not yet a big threat to Hindi, mainly because not much work has gone into developing good machines capable of handling Hindi, but I can't be certain that MT developers will continue to give Hindi a miss indefinitely. So I suppose that threat looms in the horizon, though not as menacingly as for other language pairs. Even if MT comes along, I think high-end work will still require human intervention, which would favour me.

I am upbeat about the translation scene - as the world globalizes and integrates and people mingle, more, not less, translation will be required.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 01:17
English to Polish
+ ...
Since you mentioned it Jul 1, 2013

MT Polish is still shameful display.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Orrin Cummins  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 09:17
Japanese to English
+ ...
Ditto Jul 1, 2013

MT is certainly not going to usurp Japanese/English translators anytime soon.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 00:17
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Older age translators about to retire fairly soon... Jul 1, 2013

Don't count on me retiring anytime soon, though I have reached the so-called “retiring age”!!!

Direct link Reply with quote
 

KateKaminski
Local time: 00:17
German to English
I have to disagree about MT in the legal sector Jul 1, 2013

It is true that MT is very good at translating certain types of text - all you need to do is check the target text for consistency and a few misinterpretations.

However, it is completely unable to make head or tail of complex texts in contracts. All Google Translate tends to come up with is an incomprehensible mess.

Try putting one of your usual translation source texts through GT. If the results are moderate to good, it might be time to start working on your expertise in another area!


Direct link Reply with quote
 
LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:17
Russian to English
+ ...
Translation has a future when some people wake up Jul 1, 2013

and finally realize that many approaches to translation as of 2013 are totally wrong, but fortunately slightly diverging from the mechanical, absurd course that has been gaining popularity over the last ten years. There are certain thing that be be translated to an acceptable level when done by not such extraordinary translators, with just fluent source language, who know how to use certain CAT tools. However, these disciplines cannot include law, medicine, serious financial documents, science and literature.

The future in translation is in educating translators so they can translate in those fields successfully.

As to Polish MT -- it is a total disaster -- I would recommend not even looking at the suggested translations of sentences not too get confused. Russian is slightly -- just slightly, better. Lithuanian is a total disaster. German is not bad at all, for simple things (German/English)

I tried some prestigious MT, just out of curiosity, between Lithuanian and English and many words in Lithuanian were Polish, even with the Polish diacritical signs -- can you imagine. These languages are not even from one family.


[Edited at 2013-07-01 11:49 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
564354352  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 01:17
Danish to English
+ ...
Good translators only get better as they age Jul 1, 2013

So, no don't stake your hopes on us taking early retirement. This is actually an industry where 'the grey gold' is valuable. The more experience a translator has, the better he/she gets (provided they have a knack for translation in the first place, of course). It is even a line of work where people can choose to 'wind down a bit' as they reach or pass 'retirement age' and continue to earn some level of income to supplement any pension they might receive.

Instead, you should focus entirely on becoming the best translator you could possibly be, regardless of how many 'ageing' 'cling-on' translators there may be out there in your chosen language combinations. If you are lucky, you may even get to know some of us 'oldies, but goodies', and maybe we can give you a tip or two along the way, even if we are not quite ready to hand over our work to you.

As for machine translation, it is impossible to determine how good it will ever get. There are so many possible combinations of words in any one language, let alone in any combination of languages, that it is quite incomprehensible that a machine should be able to get it all right based on whatever data is put into it. I have seen examples of MT that were pretty impressive, and I have seen examples, such as Google Translate, which are still very much in their infancy, despite the fact that they have been on the market for several years now.

However, MT is not going to go away, and there will, undoubtedly, be clients out there who will try to cut prices by using MT for initial translations and then ask human translators to complete the job. In my opinion, that is an entirely different job from 'real' translation work, and it will require a completely different kind of person to someone who loves to work with his/her languages and enjoys the craftsmanship of translation. Personally, I would hate that kind of work, but there may be people who will thrive on it and who will make that their particular market niche. The market for this kind of service will only keep growing (I imagine). So, if you have the mindset for that kind of work, and you are just starting out as a translator / editor, I would say 'go for it' and make it your speciality. Rather you than me.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:17
Russian to English
+ ...
The future of translation is in language teaching. Jul 1, 2013

I think the future of translation depends on the fluency in the languages the translators work with, and specialization, more than on technology.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:17
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
MT WILL have a massive impact, I guarantee that Jul 1, 2013

I used to pooh-pooh the effect of MT, and still some of it's pretty abysmal even in the FIGS pairs - take GoogleTranslate as an example. But I know a good bit more now about MT, and the work that's going on to make highly specialised MT machines. MT that the potential clients (agencies and large end clients, I suppose) will pay dearly for. Then we'll be left with post-editing good quality, but intrinsically suspect, translations. I really think that will happen for a lot of the more routine work, even in pairs involving Hindi and Japanese. And it may happen sooner than you think.

However, having paid out for this MT, I don't think many quality-conscious clients will be prepared to risk it being mangled by students and hobby translators. They'll come to highly experienced and/or qualified professionals, and ask us to turn it into natural, flowing prose. And some areas will probably remain the domain of the professional from scratch. Marketing texts that contain plays on words etc will probably never be suitable for translation by machines, so the top-end transcreation market will flourish, I believe.

I see the industry becoming polarised into three distinct groups:

1) those 'everyday' texts where the gist is all that's really needed will be dealt with by free MT, or possibly by dirt-cheap people if clients believe they are worth paying peanuts for;

2) those texts where accuracy is important (e.g. technical manuals) will be dealt with by highly specialised MT engines, followed by post-editing by correctly-paid translators;

3) those texts where target language needs to convey the equivalent message, which sometimes requires using rather different sentence structure etc (eg marketing), will be dealt with from scratch by correctly-paid translators.

In short, I think we're in for massive changes, and we (or those of you who are younger than me, perhaps) need to be prepared to adapt to the changing market. All the continual railing against ridiculous rates will become a thing of the past one day, I hope. But only for those translators who manage to forge a career for themselves in categories 2 and 3 above. We need to dissociate ourselves from category 1. Of course, some of today's work will disappear, and some of it will be post-editing of quality MT rather than translation per se, but I see a bright future with new clients finding new top-end needs all the time.

Anyway, that's only my own personal view of the future of the industry, and not a very studied one. Feel free to disagree.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:17
Russian to English
+ ...
Maybe you don't realize Sheila how bad MT is right now, for some languages. Jul 1, 2013

Slavic languages MT compared to Germanic (any Germanic language and English) is really like Heaven and Hell. Now I am starting to understand why some people believe that certain types of translation are possible through MT -- this is if they look and some very specific languages only.

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


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


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

Future for translation industry

Advanced search







LSP.expert
You’re a freelance translator? LSP.expert helps you manage your daily translation jobs. It’s easy, fast and secure.

How about you start tracking translation jobs and sending invoices in minutes? You can also manage your clients and generate reports about your business activities. So you always keep a clear view on your planning, AND you get a free 30 day trial period!

More info »
memoQ translator pro
Kilgray's memoQ is the world's fastest developing integrated localization & translation environment rendering you more productive and efficient.

With our advanced file filters, unlimited language and advanced file support, memoQ translator pro has been designed for translators and reviewers who work on their own, with other translators or in team-based translation projects.

More info »



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