The Changing Role of Language Translators in Today’s Times

Last Updated December 5, 2017

Imagine the possibilities opened up by enhancing a language translator’s skill. Work with higher levels of accuracy, speed and consistency.

In today’s fast paced economic growth scene, employee upskilling has become immensely important.

The advent of Artificial intelligence (AI) has especially made the need for upskilling inevitable. Innovations and improved business processes are gradually replacing the requirement for man-power.

This global phenomenon has affected almost every recognised profession. That includes the specialized and highly technical profession of language translators.

Adapt or Fade Out

Language translators all over the world are facing the threat of replacement by machines with the advent of machine translation. Big data, AI, computer aided translation, and Google Translate have all left a huge mark already.

Language technologists argue these factors can only improve a translator’s skill, but many translators across the world fear full replacement

Common Sense Advisory (CSA) reports only 1% of all content created is translated, and that there are not enough translators to tackle the remaining content.

Furthermore, translation is a niche and premium service, meaning a lot of content remains untranslated.

With the advent of technology, and new emerging translation requirements, the role of a translator is evolving regularly.

For example, these services serve as catalysts in the changing role of the translator.

Post Editing of Machine Translation

The modern translator is a subject matter expert and can easily fit into the role of a highly skilled editor.

Learning about latest trends and developments helps a translator provide expert review of machine translated content.

This also leads to the creation of ‘Terminologies and Glossaries’, which will further enhance the translator’s skills.

Digitization of Legal Content

The legal sector is always in need of translators.

Numerous claims, usually multilingual in nature, are submitted across the world. Additionally, there is always a scarcity of time.

Translators with legal qualifications can now augment their skills by using Content Enrichment tools. They link the content to online data.

Modern legal translators can now be seen as ‘designated legal consultants’, typically required to provide key information on the data points.

Upskill Opportunities for Language Translators

In other words, translators have nothing to fear from technology if they are constantly looking to develop new skills.

Other areas of growth include:

  • Online or web based interpretation
  • Testing of online multilingual software
  • Providing tips to gaming companies on ways to localize their games/content to attract gamers from across the globe
  • Providing multilingual email/customer support using chatbots to creating e-learning courses for a global audience
  • Gaining knowledge and experience in using ‘Computer Aided Translation’ tools which integrate Machine Translation
  • Working with “Light’s-Out” Project Management tools, which automate the entire process of translation
  • Researching and updating information on the latest trends and developments in their specialized domain
  • Attend online courses which can help them in understanding the latest jargon
  • Joining Translation Associations like ELIA, which provide information on the latest technology available to translators
  • Analyze publicly available translations by comparing the source- and target-language versions

Translators are a source of varied knowledge that is not just restricted to the languages in which they translate, but also to the industry and domain that they are associated with.

Many marketing research companies are therefore on the lookout for information rich content and are willing to pay a large amount of money for articles, surveys and blogs.

Additionally, companies are now creating apps, which promote crowdsourcing, even for translation. There, a translator can work on the go and translate multiple, smaller content on the fly.

In today’s age of messaging and texting, then, a technically savvy translator has a lot to gain by enhancing his mobile usage skills.

How Language Translators Can Move Forward

It is therefore time to prepare for the future and translators need to equip themselves with the correct tools to ensure their long-lasting role as language specialists.

In conclusion, there is no industry that does require translation services. That includes cross-border e-commerce, face to face interpretation, showcasing products to a prospective client, testing localized games, and even providing best practices on how to transcreate marketing content to attract new audiences.

Most LSPs, translation technology providers, and government agencies are also providing free versions of tools so that translators can re-train their skills and increase their productivity plus the speed and quality of translation.

If translators, then, can embrace this change and adapt to the rapidly evolving technology, they might realize the absurdity of their fears of replacement.

It has been proven time and again, beyond doubt, that technology creates newer avenues and new roles instead of leading to unemployment.

– Madhu Sundaramurthy
Sr. Manager-Innovation Hub

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