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Poll: How do you see the future of translation?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 05:22
SITE STAFF
Sep 19, 2008

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "How do you see the future of translation?".

This poll was originally submitted by Giuseppina Gatta

View the poll here

A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see: http://proz.com/topic/33629


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Venkatesh Sundaram  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 17:52
Member
German to English
Depends on where one is Sep 19, 2008

With all the threats from Google type translation, (the subject of a poll a few weeks ago) it seems to me (sitting in India) that there is some future for translation because of globalisation. But this really depends on where one is placed - if one is either in a 'source' or 'destination' country, one may have sufficient work to occupy oneself. Also depends on the time scale one is considering....
Enjoy your weekends while you can!
Venkatesh


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John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:22
Spanish to English
+ ...
translators in a stronger position Sep 19, 2008

I intuitively feel that net tools, machine translation, and globalisation will turn the balance of power back towards individual translators and away from the agencies.

However, I can't think of any precise reasons why this should happen.

Suggestions please.


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Giuseppina Gatta, MA (Hons)
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
I answered Other Sep 19, 2008

I think it is very difficult to judge on a global level. I am afraid on one side that the economic situation (which looks to be very difficult on a global level) will affect also our industry, probably with a little delay.

On my very small scale, right now I am drowning in job offers.

On the other side, it is very difficult even to know what is really going on in our industry...


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Joan Berglund  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:22
French to English
Other as well Sep 19, 2008

John Rawlins wrote:

I intuitively feel that net tools, machine translation, and globalisation will turn the balance of power back towards individual translators and away from the agencies.

However, I can't think of any precise reasons why this should happen.

Suggestions please.


Historically, agencies have earned their cut by
1. Bringing the client and the translator together due to their greater visibility and advertising budget - no longer relevant in the internet age
2. Providing an independent proofreading - I believe this is absolutely vital, but many agencies actually aren't bothering
3. Guaranteeing payment. A lot of agencies seem to have a hard time with this, too. Their contract with you is still in force even if their client is a deadbeat. If there is a problem with your work, you should hear about it long before payment is due (see 2. above)

So one way to keep the future of translation a positive one is to refuse to work for agencies that are not providing 2. and 3., since 1. is no longer relevant.

But there is no getting away from the fact that machine translation is improving. So I do think we will be called on for editing and localization more than translating in the future. I don't really have a problem with letting the computer do the typing and dictionary look-ups, we can still do the thinking.


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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:22
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
The field is changing... Sep 19, 2008

...for the better in some respects, and for the worse in others.

It's changing for the better in that the Internet and CAT tools are ensuring higher levels of accuracy and consistency At the same time, job opportunities in the localization field appear to be continually growing.

It's changing for the worse in that compensation for translators is stagnant. Rates increased at a more rapid rate in the past, when there were fewer translators, fewer tools, and the job market was localized. Increases used to match or exceed rises in the cost of living. Now, however, I see jobs advertised at rates that were being paid 30 years ago. On ProZ I quote a rate somewhere between what I get from my long-term clients and the average of what I see jobs being advertised for. In most cases, my rate is considered too high and the job goes to someone who is willing to work for less.


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Michaël Temmerman  Identity Verified
Costa Rica
Local time: 06:22
English to Dutch
+ ...
rates are becoming a problem Sep 20, 2008

Rates are becoming a problem and people seem to be willing to work nearly for free. I frankly don't understand how they can survive and pay the basic bills. The inflation worldwide is substantial and yet, it is very tough to even maintain current rates. In any case, they are not helping the translation business and other translators nor themselves by accepting extremely low rates.
Then again, those people aren't always full time translators and they are just happy with whatever they get out of it...


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:22
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Sep 20, 2008

In my case, I usually have sufficient work on a regular basis from one source or the other and expect this situation to continue.
They say machine translation is improving but everything I've seen, especially online, appears to be no more efficient than Systran, which has been about for a long time and is not terribly impressive. I do try to keep abreast with new developments but seldom have time to spend learning to use new software - I've had Wordfast for a year and still don't know how to use half of it, for example the glossaries, but suppose I will get round to it someday.
I see a possible threat in my main pair [Spanish->English] in the mid term due to the growing number of Spanish speakers translating into English, who will usually undercut native translators. Then there are the legions of keypad crunchers in the east, with agencies willing to work for ridiculously low rates, which may entice the unwary client eager to make a perceived saving, especially in these days of general economic ... gloom.
Nevertheless, I hope that by building and maintaining a good client base with more or less regular input I will be able to keep going without having to worry too much.

[Edited at 2008-09-20 08:45]


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:22
Flemish to English
+ ...
Not good Sep 20, 2008

Combine CAT, Databases, Speech-recognition and robotics and think ahead 10 years from now.
Who wants to be a translator in 2018 could have been another question. The task of the translator will be reduced to rewriting texts churned out by such tools.


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xxxLatin_Hellas
United States
Local time: 14:22
Italian to English
+ ...
Remain highly fragmented Sep 20, 2008

Unless the current crises around the world lead to another era of protectionism, in general I believe that the translation business will continue to expand, demand for quality will remain as varied as it is today, and the market will remain highly fragmented. To be sure, competition among providers for translation services will also remain high and may even become more intense, but again, offset at least somewhat by varying demand for different levels of quality.

I think agencies still play a role: as an individual I could not have such a wide variety of customers through direct contact as I can from any number of agencies.

Like all economic entities, translators must learn to become efficient in all aspects of their business.

If one believes that rates are too low, one must do some combination of the following: work more hours, seek higher paying customers, improve quality, improve efficiency, cut costs, branch off into another, possibly related, business (economy of scope), set up or partner with an agency or other translators (economy of scale), leave the business and go into a different one.

[Edited at 2008-09-20 14:00]


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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 09:22
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Things look good Sep 20, 2008

I can't speak for the translation business as a whole, although if I were to take a stab at it I'd say that globalization would continue to make translators more and more valuable. I don't buy the argument that machine translation will take over and that we'll end up doing nothing but editing bad texts, because most clients won't want to pay twice to get the job done.

My work has not been affected at all by the economic downturn, which is particularly bad here in the US. In fact, I have more work than ever. Also, I don't charge as much as some of my colleagues here do (partly because I still work for a few Brazilian companies who simply can't pay high dollar rates), nevertheless I have no trouble meeting my expenses living in an expensive city and paying a high rent. It's true that I live alone and don't have a car, but I still don't understand why people who are charging high rates are having a hard time making ends meet, unless they don't have enough work because their rates are too high!


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:22
Flemish to English
+ ...
How low can you go? Sep 20, 2008

Michaël Temmerman wrote:

Rates are becoming a problem and people seem to be willing to work nearly for free. I frankly don't understand how they can survive and pay the basic bills. The inflation worldwide is substantial and yet, it is very tough to even maintain current rates. In any case, they are not helping the translation business and other translators nor themselves by accepting extremely low rates.
Then again, those people aren't always full time translators and they are just happy with whatever they get out of it...


Dutch is a niche language with more supply than demand. If everybody asks a reasonable rate (starting at 0.10) outsourcers will not have any other choice than to accept those rates. If, like it was the case 20 translators in the combination G>E jump on an offer to translate 113 pages at a total price of 1500 euros or about 0.04 euros p.w. (outsourcer based in Germany and most bidders based in Germany too-some in the U.S.), than outsourcers start to consider this a normal rate. How low can you go.


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Αlban SHPΑTΑ  Identity Verified
Albania
Member (2008)
English to Albanian
+ ...
Quality Sep 20, 2008

I am sure that those who accept to work for those low rates are either amateurs or translators desperate for some cash. Eventually those outsourcers that outsource work at those low rates do not care much about quality and I do not think they even bother to employ a proofreader either. As far as I have know all those that work with Dutch or related languages will not accept to work for under 7 cents per word. Also, you will need at least 2000 EUR a month to make a living in Holland or Germany so it's easy to figure out what normal rates could be for translators living in those countries.

As far as I am concerned I will insist on translation quality, the only and most important thing that will distinguish me from any 2 cent translator. You pay cheap rates you get cheap work.

Williamson wrote:
Dutch is a niche language with more supply than demand. If everybody asks a reasonable rate (starting at 0.10) outsourcers will not have any other choice than to accept those rates. If, like it was the case 20 translators in the combination G>E jump on an offer to translate 113 pages at a total price of 1500 euros or about 0.04 euros p.w. (outsourcer based in Germany and most bidders based in Germany too-some in the U.S.), than outsourcers start to consider this a normal rate. How low can you go.


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Things don't look good Sep 20, 2008

CAT (and other high-tech associated with translation industry) is a double-edged sword for the reason I don't feel necessary to specify here.
Most of us translators know its merit and demerit.

I do not wish to be pessimistic about this, but many outsourcers (particularly those in Asia) are taking full advantage of these tools (CAT in particular), and squeezing our fee to peanuts (yeah, peanuts or even less. They pay zero to 100% match and repetitions).

The other day I was asked to translate 40,000 word document for only 1,800.00 USD. This pittance amount is computed based on CAT analysis.
I quickly turned down, but then the outsourcer posted the job on ProZ (circustantial evidence indicates this is the same job I rejected), and I saw few people submitted their quote. Soon the job had "closed" note.

I bet number of these translators will increase, if not exponentially.

I just noticed iTranslate posted a note saying these outsourcers don't care about quality. I thoroughly agree. Yes majority of them do not bother to hire editor. But danger is that before such cheap practice backfire them, good deal of damage will be done on good and experienced translators (and translation industry itself).

[Edited at 2008-09-20 17:40]


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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 17:52
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
The furture is bright Sep 21, 2008

There are strong historical reasons why translation demand will keep on going up.

The world is becoming more and more multipolar. The colonial spread of languages like English, French, Spanish and Portuguese is on the decline and the languages of Asia, Africa and other parts of the world are gaining their rightful place under the sun. Languages like Hindi and Chinese are on the rise as their economies are booming. Incidently these two form the largest liguistic groups in the world with half a billion and one billion speakers respectively.

Languages that were throttled during imerialism and colonialism are slowing beginning to breathe again. Examples are Welsh, Scottish, Irish and Catalan, and many others in other parts of the world. This will fuel translation need.

On the whole, with colonialism and imperialism of the classic 19th century kind all but gone, the formely suppressed cultures and languages are gradually flowering and the world is a much more multi-lingual and multi-cultural place in the 21st century than in the 19th and 20th centuries which was afflicted by colonialism and imperialism which stiffled languages and cultures and tried to spread colonial languages like English throughout the world.

This trend is on the wane and colonial languages too are shrinking back to their shores and as these languages retreat, local languages are getting more fresh air to breathe. There are clear signs of this in India and the most convincing proof can be had when we look at the English capabilities of the Prime Ministers of India since Independence. Jawaharlal Nehru, who was the first Prime Minister, was the finest prose writer and orator in English in the world of his times. Down the line, the Prime Ministers that followed him had increasingly declining command over English. When we come down to Prime Ministers like Charan Singh and Deva Gowda, they had practically no knowledge of English.

This trend bodes well for translators according to me.

[2008-09-21 03:24 पर संपादन हुआ]


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