Translation student presentation on employer's expectations of translation technology use
Thread poster: ktemmel
ktemmel
Canada
Local time: 17:45
Feb 28, 2016

Hello,

I'm currently studying translation and for one of my classes I am creating a presentation on employer's expectations of technology use in the workplace. An employer could be a multinational company hiring a translation firm because they are expanding to different countries, or a translation company hiring another translator.

I have a couple of specific questions, but feel free to add your own input:

- What sort of translation requirements have you encountered with your employers?

- Over the past twenty years, how have expectations evolved surrounding speed of translations and technology use?

Thank you!


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Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 16:45
German to English
+ ...
answering Feb 29, 2016

Many of us work as freelance translators, so we have clients, not employers. In case you actually meant the clients who hire our services:

My clients hire me to provide a translation for whatever purpose. There is no reason for a customer to have expectations about the tools that a professional uses to provide a service or a product. My accountant is preparing my taxes right now. I haven't the foggiest what he is using: a program, a calculator, pencil and paper.

My clients EXPECTATIONS are:
- an accurate translation
- professional looking translation
- appropriate advice when it is needed
- suitable to the circumstance etc.
- timely delivery
- responsiveness
- courtesy

Otoh, when there is an employer, and the employee works in that employer's office, isn't it the employer who provides the tools?


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Texte Style
Local time: 23:45
French to English
First of all Feb 29, 2016

get your terminology right. An employer has employees. The two situation you mention are not employment. You can call them contractors or outsourcers, or clients.

Translation requirements: they want the translation fast, cheap and good, and into the right language.

Development in the past 20 years: seems they want translations ever faster and ever cheaper, without compromising on quality.

With Internet, research has become a whole lot easier and even faster (no more traipsing to a library on the other side of town to look up terms in a specialist encyclopaedia), but clients expect the translation back even faster than that.

With increased CAT tool use agencies have started bullying translators into buying and using the same CAT tool as them so they can get the translations more quickly and without billing as much. CAT tools are often marketed as being a means to improve quality but I've rarely seen an agency that really seems to care about this aspect.

With the advent of MT, client expectations have become ridiculous, way beyond laughing point. Translators are now being asked to proofread stuff and only find out when it's too late that in fact the translation was produced by a machine.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:45
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
To add to what has already been well said Mar 1, 2016

I can see a split forming, into what I personally like to call the translation industry on the one hand and the profession on the other.

The industry is all through agencies, with the enormous multinationals generally being the ones in contact with the clients. They handle multimillion word, and dollar, projects using a highly mechanised process. TMs are populated from any source, including MT. CAT tool use is mandatory by all participants. Work is farmed out to smaller agencies - many of them being simply brokers - who in turn split it up between freelance translators, or even to other agencies. By the time work actually starts, deadlines are extremely tight, and there's very little money for each link in the chain. So there are compromises and workarounds at every stage.

But there's still a whole raft of work on the side of the profession. Whether from direct clients or through specialist agencies, there is still work around that calls for a great text at reasonable rates, with a tight but doable deadline. Use of CAT tools etc is for the translator to decide as the client's only requirement is for quality, on time and within budget. Clearly, translators who optimise their time will be able to provide a better service.


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Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 23:45
Member
English to Italian
+ ...
Fortunately MT is still distinguishable from human translation... Mar 1, 2016

Texte Style wrote:

With increased CAT tool use agencies have started bullying translators into buying and using the same CAT tool as them so they can get the translations more quickly and without billing as much. CAT tools are often marketed as being a means to improve quality but I've rarely seen an agency that really seems to care about this aspect.


Sadly, this doesn't appear to be uncommon... although, as you were saying, often agencies "want translations ever faster and ever cheaper, without compromising on quality". Classic case of wanting to have your cake and eat it too.

With the advent of MT, client expectations have become ridiculous, way beyond laughing point. Translators are now being asked to proofread stuff and only find out when it's too late that in fact the translation was produced by a machine.


I wouldn't go so far as to say that clients usually try to mask MT-PE jobs as proofreading ones, also because I think it's (fortunately still) rather easy to tell a human translation from a MT job (articles, prepositions, syntax, etc.). However, yes, MT is definitely spreading and I believe more and more agencies are using it, expecting to get x2 or x3 finalized words per unit of time compared to human translation, and at a fraction of the cost...


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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 17:45
Member (2008)
French to English
How the profession works Mar 1, 2016

ktemmel wrote:
I'm currently studying translation and for one of my classes I am creating a presentation on employer's expectations of technology use in the workplace.


As others have pointed out, I'm not sure that the OP understands how the profession works. There are relatively few translators who work in an employer's workplace. The most common would probably be employed by government translation bureaus. Most professionals on this site are not in that category.

An employer could be a multinational company hiring a translation firm because they are expanding to different countries, or a translation company hiring another translator.


Here there seems to be some confusion as to what an employer is. Neither situation listed - the multinational company hiring a translation firm or a translation company hiring another translator - are employer/employee situations.

The multinational company is identical to any business-to-business transaction - the translation firm provides a quote to the client who then issues a purchase order for the service provided. How the translation is performed and using which technology is rarely of interest to the end client.

Translation companies have few translators as employees. Their front-line employees are usually Project Managers, who act as liaison with the company's clients and service providers.

Most translators are independent professionals living and working, for the most part, in either the source or target environment and rendering professional services to their clients remotely. Hence, there is no "workplace" as far as the translator's clients are concerned.

While a few translation companies require the use of certain technologies it is not too common, especially as most translators have their own preferred technologies and often do not view imposition of technology favourably.

Where translation companies do require certain technologies these are usually to allow online interconnection with the translation company's server or to allow sending and receiving data "packages" - proprietary files containing all the data and documents pertaining to the project.

[Edited at 2016-03-01 15:40 GMT]


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ktemmel
Canada
Local time: 17:45
TOPIC STARTER
Clarification Mar 1, 2016

There seems to be some confusion about the wording of my question. I am only restating the presentation prompt that my professor gave me for this assignment. I was confused by the wording as well, but the professor clarified: "Employer" is meant to be a broad term that encompasses anyone hiring translation services.

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:45
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
"Employer" is meant to be a broad term that encompasses anyone hiring translation services Mar 2, 2016

ktemmel wrote:
There seems to be some confusion about the wording of my question. I am only restating the presentation prompt that my professor gave me for this assignment. I was confused by the wording as well, but the professor clarified: "Employer" is meant to be a broad term that encompasses anyone hiring translation services.

Well, if they're going to invent totally new definitions for words that everyone already understands as meaning something different, and without giving their new definition, there's bound to be confusion!

Just so long as you, the student hoping (maybe) to have a future as a translator, know the correct definition.


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Texte Style
Local time: 23:45
French to English
happened to me! Mar 2, 2016

Mirko Mainardi wrote:

With the advent of MT, client expectations have become ridiculous, way beyond laughing point. Translators are now being asked to proofread stuff and only find out when it's too late that in fact the translation was produced by a machine.


I wouldn't go so far as to say that clients usually try to mask MT-PE jobs as proofreading ones, also because I think it's (fortunately still) rather easy to tell a human translation from a MT job (articles, prepositions, syntax, etc.). However, yes, MT is definitely spreading and I believe more and more agencies are using it, expecting to get x2 or x3 finalized words per unit of time compared to human translation, and at a fraction of the cost...


I got conned once recently, which is why I mentioned it. It was part of a larger project and the agency's client always wants my translations, they can tell apparently when the agency tries to outsource to someone else. So they tried another way of getting my polish without paying the proper price. Won't happen again because I simply told them I no longer wanted to provide proofreading services.


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