The future of translation business
Are we about to witness the fall of translation industry?
Every now and then we hear apocalyptic predictions about the future of translation industry. Its unavoidable demise is supposedly caused by ever-changing IT solutions facilitating the provision of translation services and brand new inventions allowing us to see language barriers tumble down. The spectrum of influence that modern technology has on this field is astonishingly wide – yet the media eagerly choose to report on the extremes, presenting the unavoidable ending. Before fearing everything that future holds and researching alternative career options, we should take a closer look on the constantly developing translation services market. Yes, we may be in for some revolutionary changes. Yes, we may notice that the influence of machines on the provision of translation services is larger than ever. We are not, however, going to witness the profession of a translator becoming obsolete.
The dynamic development of translation industry – and the fears it has brought
Over the last two decades, the digital revolution has fundamentally reshaped the translation industry. An utterly different work ethic has emerged, along with previously unknown methods – such as working freelance or establishing cooperation with specialists located in remote areas and foreign countries. Virtually every familiar way of handling basic tasks connected with order execution has become outdated, with numerous entrepreneurs either refusing to adapt or falling behind the competition, all of the sudden realizing their business can no longer keep up with their rivals. Those who have managed to get through the pitfalls of dynamic changes, however, came out of this battle stronger than ever and ready for new challenges. New millennium brought even more ground-breaking inventions for language professionals, especially within the field of machine translation and CAT tools. Recent reports claim that we are about to witness the widespread use of equipment allowing for instant interpretation services, even in the wildest language pairs. No wonder that all these sensational news made the translators wonder whether their own, human input will soon become useless.
Much needed human touch – why do we need it in translation?
There are certain projects which demand conciseness and consistency in nomenclature used; in such cases, CAT tools are unbelievably helpful and might significantly shorten lead time (which will be undoubtedly appreciated by the clients). Even though machine translation and CAT tools are becoming increasingly popular, getting better and more intuitive with every update, there is no possibility that they will completely replace humans. The preparation of a target text requires far more effort than just translating individual words from one language into the other. Even technical manuals require someone to go through a ready-made machine translation in order to check the layout, mistakes, and in case of fusional (so-called inflected) languages – word endings. Things get even more complicated as we delve into literary, legal or medical translation; nobody would probably enjoy a book which was translated solely by a machine. Language is a wonderful tool and exploring all of its intricacies in the prepared translations – such as sarcasm, metaphors, complex comparisons, cinematography or other art references - depends to a large extent on the skill and general knowledge of a translator. Far too much literary or cinema works have been destroyed by improper translations to even try to imagine the havoc that machine translation would wreak in popular culture. Medical translations require broad knowledge, with scientific articles and discharge summary cards often involving various fields of science and medicine disciplines seamlessly interwoven within one text. Only the human brain is capable of noticing these nuances and finding correlations between seemingly mismatched sentences.
The role of creativity in shaping the future of translation industry
With technological advances happening breathtakingly fast, we cannot reliably predict the fate of linguists. We shouldn’t, though, by any chance belittle the importance of creativity in translation process. People are capable of thinking outside the box and looking beyond the set framework; machines cannot employ their creativity, as they simply lack it. They are also limited by the scope of information that humans have equipped them with, their usefulness being therefore heavily dependent on human input. Machines might be useful and helpful – but human creativity and ability to invent unique texts is irreplaceable; marketing and advertisement will therefore always rely on people – their knowledge, experience and originality.