Translation has been around for a long time—almost as long as written language has been. And up until the middle of the 20th century, when the first machine translations began, all translations were carried out by humans alone. Today, a wealth of translation tools are available, from fully-automated machine translation software to websites, systems, and apps that help facilitate human translations. While at this point there isn’t a machine translation tool that sufficiently rivals an accomplished human translator, there have been many recent innovations in translation that make the work of human translators easier, faster, and better. Here are three:
Translation memory, or TM, refers to a database that stores translations that you or your company has completed. Translations are broken down and logged in “segments,” which are language units that include phrases, sentences, paragraphs, and headings. Based on this ever-expanding database of previously-translated segments, the system will suggest translations for recognizable segments in new documents. Some systems allow you to set an industry for your document, such as law, sports, or finance, to make translation suggestions even more precise. Together, these functionalities speed up the translation process and increase accuracy and consistency. Plus, the more you translate, the better the results.
Linguee is a bilingual dictionary website and app that is specially designed for translators and serious language learners. Linguee operates similarly to a typical online dictionary, but sets itself apart with its extensive offerings of examples. When users enter a word into the Linguee system, they are presented with a large number of example sentences from all over the Internet in which that word has been used. This helps translators really understand how a word operates in a given language. You can also search entire phrases and see if and how they have been translated by others.
Stepes, a translation app for smart phones released this year, allows anyone in the world to translate on the go—and get paid for it. With Stepes, translators can take jobs as they are posted and begin working on them from anywhere at any time. Stepes markets itself as the “world’s first chat-based app” and, according to the developers, “It’s all about speed.” Translators don’t have to wait to get back to the office or home to their work stations before digging in to a translation, and they don’t need to lug around a laptop to stay on top of their work. The app provides translators with ratings based on the quality of their work, which in turn influences how much work they get and ensures that clients get top-notch service.
It’s clear from these three examples that innovation in translation is becoming more diverse through the evolution of ideas and technology. As there are even more advances in such short amounts of time, it’s easy to imagine a world where people are more connected through translation. Translators and clients will also benefit from more convenient service methods, making the industry as exciting as it is innovative.