in Language & Culture, Language Technology, Translation

shutterstockEven when human societies first tentatively interacted with each other, there were instances of interpretation and translation. Reasons such as trade and diplomacy between nations and societies were important early engines behind the refinement of translation practices, and the urge to better understand other viewpoints all involved different kinds of evolving methods. Now in our interconnected world, communication between nations and subsequently the translation of languages is culturally and economically vital. Literature from across the world has been translated into many different languages to be enjoyed and to provide different perspectives of societies across the globe. Businesses that want to compete on the international stage must also appropriate sufficient translation services or they will appear inadequate and unprofessional.  The question now is what the future holds for translation methods, techniques, and ultimately the identity of the translator – whether or not machine translation will be dominant over human translation in the future.

It would be naïve to ignore the increasing influence of machine translation on translation work. In this fast-paced world, clients are not prepared to wait the amount of time it takes for human translators to translate text, which has introduced the inevitable need for machine translation. The use of platforms such as Google and Microsoft have also drastically reduced the need for common translation to be made by human translators, with more words translated by Google in one minute than all human translators in one year.  Around 3 trillion gigabytes of data are produced every day which potentially provides huge potential for translators, but 99% of this market opportunity is taken up by online platforms. Machine translation is also cheaper, and the reduction of costs is a major incentive for clients. All of these considerations together are reason enough to predict an increasingly mechanized future for translation, especially in the business and corporate world.

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As far as the tools on offer for translators to use are concerned, there are a number of versatile and efficient translation tools in existence which skilled translators must now consider when dealing with clients. SDL Trados is the current market leader in translation tool software. It utilizes an effective system that allows translators to successfully make comparisons and highlight errors between original source material and their translation.  Another development in translation tool innovation that must be mentioned is Lilt. Lilt generates suggestions via an adaptive machine translation system – according to its developers, Lilt learns from its human users and over time can improve productivity as well as accuracy. These are just two examples of innovations in translation technology that allow translators to quickly navigate large amounts of work but also impress their own skill and experience into their translations.

This leads on to another point that can be made about the future of translation which may be altogether more positive. Human translation is still valued for its innate power of interpretation, which machines have not yet replicated, and its insight would be trusted wholeheartedly when translated by professional linguists who are native in the language in question. This could point towards human translation becoming more specifically for more delicate translation work such as translating important documents, personal documents and effects, or writing such as non-fiction, novels, and poetry. The introduction of translation tools into the translation industry also presents the intriguing possibility of a positive collaboration between translator and translation systems. The multi-functional, time -saving aspects of translation tools can theoretically allow translators to apply their knowledge and skills, while also harnessing the benefits of mechanized translation practices.

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Perhaps this more positive outlook, of a combination of efficient systems and human input can be the future of translation as we know it. At CSOFT this is the outlook that we take pride in applying, as we invest in the latest, state-of-the-art translation tools and also in our team of expert linguists and translators. It is this goal of utilizing the positives of both machine and human translation that sets CSOFT apart as a service of localization and translation, and we look forward to exploring the exciting future innovations of translation.