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Translators in Transition: The Shift in Translator Roles


dictionnary entry of the word translation

Gone are the days when translators were strictly responsible for transferring content from one language to another, as described in last week's article on the growing demand for revision and machine translation post-editing. The growing prevalence of automated tools and machine translation has led to an increased demand for translators to focus on revision and machine translation post-editing (MTPE).


By taking on these revised roles, there is no doubt that translators are adding value to the translation process. They are the missing link that adds finesse and nuance to machine-generated translations. They bring their deep linguistic knowledge, cultural understanding, and expertise to the table, enhancing the quality of translations and bridging the gap between automated tools and the human touch. Read on to explore the evolving world of translators and unlock a realm where automation and human brilliance converge.


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Redefining Translation Services in the Digital Age


Nowadays, businesses can leverage automated translation tools internally, complemented by professional revision services, to ensure flawless translations. Alternatively, they can opt for machine translation post-editing (MTPE) services, where they consciously invest in a translation generated by machine translation and subsequently refined by a professional translator. These alternatives to traditional translation services come at a considerably lower cost. This approach is appealing as it provides a cost-effective solution without compromising the accuracy and polish of the translated content. However, are these really the best options out there when it comes to your business’s translation needs?


The Benefits of Working With a Professional Translator


Besides recognizing the value and expertise that translators bring to the table with the rise of technology, the services of professional translators have become even more invaluable than ever before. They possess the studies, professional certifications, linguistic and cultural knowledge, context comprehension, and domain expertise that automated tools simply cannot match. Here are a few more reasons to consider when choosing between cheap MTPE services or working directly with a professional translator:


Deep Understanding of Your Business


By working closely with a professional translator who becomes familiar with your business’s products or services, your industry, and your target audience, you can develop a strong working relationship with your designated language professional. The translator gains an in-depth understanding of your business and specific requirements, ensuring consistent and accurate translations across all your communication channels.


Customized Approach


A dedicated professional translator can tailor their services to your business’s unique needs. They can align their work with your business’s branding guidelines, language preferences, tone of voice, style guides, and specific industry jargon. This level of customization enhances the quality and coherence of translated content and helps maintain a consistent brand image.


Efficient Communication


Building a long-term professional relationship with a translator streamlines the communication process. The business and translator can develop effective channels for collaboration, share feedback, and promptly address any queries or concerns. Efficient communication reduces misunderstandings, saves time, and enhances overall productivity. Language professionals may also be more inclined to accept rush requests from a regular loyal client than a one-off request.


Consistency and Language Assets


A dedicated translator can build several language assets specific to the business, such as a translation memory, a glossary or a term base. These assets ensure consistent terminology usage, save time on future translations, and contribute to the overall language management strategy of the business. Consistency is crucial in establishing a professional image and effectively communicating with clients.


Quality Assurance


A dedicated professional translator takes ownership of the translation process, ensuring thorough revision and proofreading to deliver error-free content. They are committed to consistently maintaining high-quality standards and meeting the business’s expectations. This commitment to quality is more likely present in a long-term professional relationship than in one-off translation engagements or resorting to cheap MTPE services online, where you don’t necessarily know who is handling your files.


Collaboration and Continuous Improvement


The business can foster a collaborative environment for ongoing feedback and improvement by working closely with a dedicated translator. The translator can provide valuable insights, suggest improvements, and actively contribute to the business’s language strategy. This collaborative approach enables the business to refine its communication materials and ensure continuous improvement in linguistic quality.


Trust and Confidentiality


Over time, a business can establish trust and confidence in a dedicated professional translator. This trust extends to the handling of sensitive information and confidential documents. With a solid professional relationship, the translator becomes a trusted partner who understands the importance of confidentiality and upholds professional ethics, including the duty of professional secrecy.


Navigating Evolving Translation Rates


Imagine choosing between two translation services: one provided by a professional translator charging $0.24 per word and the other involving revising a machine translation by the same professional for $0.06 per word. For example, consider a 1000-word document where the translation service would amount to $240 while opting for the machine translation and subsequent revision would cost only $60. Businesses are increasingly opting for the latter for obvious reasons.


However, the difference becomes less significant if we consider the time saved by the professional through revision rather than translation. The truth is, they still need to cross-reference and verify both the original text and the machine-generated translation, effectively working with two documents instead of just one, and that’s besides still having to top the work off with revision and proofreading of the final translation, as well as the page layout sometimes.


Revising the machine translation is not four times less time-consuming than the difference in cost suggests. Revision requires as much effort as translating, especially when considering the quality of the source text. If the original text is poorly written, MTPE can actually take longer, yet in this example, the translator is paid four times less!


So, how can translators be properly compensated for their work? Is it fair for them to earn $60 instead of $240 when the time and, more importantly, their expertise and know-how remain relatively constant? Might it be time to ditch the per-word pricing system and transition instead to hourly rates?


While automation and technology can bring efficiency and cost savings, how about we address the concerns of professionals in the language industry and ensure their earning potential is protected?


Striking a balance between the benefits of automation and the value of professional expertise is essential to maintain translation services' quality and integrity while recognizing the importance of fair compensation for translators’ skills and experience. After all, language professionals provide human expertise needed more than ever in the age of AI. Or are you really going to leave all your communications entirely up to AI?


Considering the advancements in technology and the increasing demand for specialized knowledge in translation, it’s reasonable to expect that the rates for revision services and MTPE will be adjusted accordingly. If businesses are beginning to adjust their requests to save a buck, language professionals are equally inclined to adapt their rates accordingly.


While translators previously charged around $0.04 to $0.08 per word for revision, the current landscape suggests higher rates, potentially reaching $0.15 or more, depending on the project’s complexity and specificity. Hourly rates can go up to $120.


Moreover, in the case of machine translation post-editing (MTPE), it’s essential to consider that the word count should include both the source and target texts. This means that the cost of MTPE can be the same as that of translation or even more. For example, let’s consider the 1000-word document translated at a rate of $0.24, which would cost $240. In contrast, an MTPE involving 1800 words (including the source text and machine translation) at $0.15 per word would cost $270. Are you sure you still need an MTPE?


This fair compensation acknowledges the translator’s time and effort and encourages the continued growth and development of the translation profession, benefiting both clients and translators in the long run. If businesses feel their needs can be fulfilled by using DeepL or ChatGPT, then those willing to ensure quality with the services of a professional could certainly expect to pay for its worth.


Let’s not forget that these automated tools have enabled individuals without proper training or expertise to enter the language industry and offer their services at cheap rates. Not surprisingly, you can expect to get what you pay for in translation and content writing services nowadays.


Professional translators undergo extensive studies and training, possess linguistic proficiency, and have in-depth knowledge of specific subject areas or industries. Their expertise allows them to navigate complex language nuances, cultural contexts, and domain-specific terminology, ensuring accurate and polished translations. I’m sure anyone would agree this comes at a well-worth cost.


Choosing a professional translator ensures accurate and reliable translations and guarantees adherence to industry standards, confidentiality, and professionalism.


Finding the Right Language Professional


When seeking professionals for content writing, translation, post-editing, revision, or proofreading, finding individuals with the right experience and knowledge in the relevant language and industry is wise. Here are some tips to help you evaluate potential professionals effectively.


Language Proficiency


Look for professionals who are native speakers or have native-level proficiency in the target language. Fluency and a deep language understanding are vital for ensuring accurate and natural translations.


Certifications and Memberships


Consider professionals with relevant certifications from recognized translation associations, professional orders (OTTIAQ, ATA, ITI), or memberships in professional organizations. These credentials indicate their commitment to maintaining high standards and staying updated with industry practices.


Translation Expertise


Seek professionals with experience in translation, specifically in the subject matter or industry relevant to your content. Different industries have specialized terminology, and a professional with industry-specific knowledge can provide more accurate and contextually appropriate revisions and edits.


Communication and Collaboration


Assess the professional’s communication skills and willingness to collaborate. Clear and effective communication is essential to ensure that they understand your requirements and can deliver the desired results. A collaborative approach allows for constructive discussions and aligning expectations.


Price and Turnaround


While cost should not be the only determining factor, discussing pricing and turnaround time with potential professionals is essential. Compare their rates and delivery schedules to ensure they align with your budget and project timeline.


Testimonials and Reviews


Look for online reviews or testimonials from previous clients. Positive feedback and recommendations can provide valuable insights into the professional’s reliability, quality of work, and customer satisfaction.


Conclusion: Entrust Your Content to Professionals


When it comes to translation, it’s worth considering the advantages of working with a professional translator over relying solely on automated tools. By finding the right language professional who understands your business and industry, you can ensure accurate, polished, and culturally appropriate translations that effectively communicate your message. So, before you dismiss the value of professional translators in the digital era, take a moment to consider the expertise they bring and the long-term benefits they can provide to your business.


The shift in translator roles from translation to revision and machine translation post-editing highlights the growing recognition of professional translators' unique skills and expertise. Are you seeking a language professional to partner with to handle your English or French translation, web content creation or proofreading? Get in touch with us!

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