Blog

Translators and Technology: Friends or Foes?

Creating a higher-quality translation in less time sounds like a myth. But is it really?

Translation Technology

It is a fact that different kinds of technology creep into the translation industry on all levels. As a result, some participants in this magical process of transforming a text to fit a different language, cultural, and sociological community, can feel quite uneasy, or even anxious. Will machine translation (MT) reach parity with human translation (HT)? Will there be a need for translators?

We believe that to get a helpful answer, the question asked should be different: Can you embrace the change to secure your place in the business? For this question, the answer is: yes, you can.

Save time and focus on what is important

First of all, technologies such as Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) or Translation Management System (TMS) can significantly reduce the amount of time spent not translating. How much time do you spend emailing your clients, keeping project files neat and organized, converting weird file formats you cannot open, alt-tabbing between the source and target text, or browsing that terminology database of yours? Probably a significant part of your day.

CAT and TMS tools help you reduce, or completely eliminate the time spent doing all those side activities. Consequently, you can stay focused on what is truly important and what makes translation, translation.

How? CAT and TMS tools…

  • keep your files organized for you;
  • enable you to receive and deliver jobs with a single click without sending any emails to the client;
  • eliminate switching between the source and the target by aligning both in a side-by-side editor;
  • give you an automated access to your terminology databases, online dictionaries, or machine translation suggestions.

Furthermore, CAT tools work with different file formats, which not only liberates you from finding the correct conversion tool but also saves you money because these tools are often paid. All of these combined can be a huge time-saver that allows you to translate faster and take on more jobs.

The main component of CAT tools, the translation memory (TM) is a chapter by itself. Thanks to the TM, you can reuse your past translations, be it a segment from within the same file or a whole paragraph from that article you translated 10 years ago for a totally different client.

How this works is that the TM saves your translation every time you confirm it in the editor. Every segment is then compared to all those that you have translated in the past. If it resembles what you are struggling with now, it automatically says “hey, you’ve translated this before!”. Translation memories are one of the tools we suggest in the 3 Tools for Improving Your Translation Process.

Pro tip: You can even create a translation memory from all the past documents you have translated so far.

Increase translation quality

But with all this speed, is the quality of your translations at risk?

TMs don’t only stop you wasting time translating the same segments over and over again, they also keep your translations consistent—both within the same document and between all the documents you have translated so far.

TMs aren’t the only thing improving quality and consistency, however. Termbases (TBs) significantly improve your terminological consistency by integrating the lists of your client’s preferred or banned words, as well as your own terminology databases, directly into the editor you translate in.

Apart from these intelligent, integrated data repositories, CAT tools give you access to QA tools that minimize your proofreading efforts, lowering the number of typos and grammar errors you could potentially deliver to your client. These QA tools also help you with following the original’s formatting by checking for misplaced tags.

Last but not least, having all these utilities in one user-friendly editor minimizes distractions when you work enabling you to focus on what is important. Having more time for the actual translation means you can increase the quality of the text that requires your attention the most.

Faster and higher-quality translation means more clients

Creating a higher-quality translation in less time may sound like a myth. However, CAT and TMS tools are able to make this happen.

Translation agencies have already realized this fact and your (potential) direct clients are quickly becoming aware of it, too. And translators feel that. However, it is not so common to turn this feeling into an opportunity to grow your client base.

Why not take advantage of the situation? Be the translator that is able to deliver more accurate and consistent translations in less time. You will also be able to provide discounts to stable clients thanks to matches in the TMs you have established while working with them.

Your clients are fast going to appreciate the perks you can offer them and possibly prioritize you when picking the right translator for the next job. And thanks to the time saved, you will be able to accept these extra jobs leading to an increase in your income.

Easier collaboration

The collaborative features of CAT and TMS tools are usually understood as advantageous for translation agencies. We believe, however, that they are equally important for the translators, proofreaders, reviewers, terminologists, and everybody else involved in the actual translation creation.

There are times where your work intersects with the work of another professional. Sometimes, you even have to work simultaneously on the same project. CAT and TMS tools, especially those which are cloud-based, give you access to an environment where such collaboration and communication can be truly seamless.

Not only can you benefit from the translation memories and termbases that can be updated in real time by several contributors, allowing you to sync your terminology and style with others working on the same project, you can also leave comments directly in the CAT interface for others to read, follow, respond to, or challenge.

This, again, helps to improve the consistency and quality of the translation your team delivers in a timely manner.

Other tools worth exploring

It is not only CAT and TMS tools that can help you increase your productivity and polish your work routines. Below, we have picked three other types of tools worth having a look at:

Optical character recognition (OCR) tools can help you with documents in uneditable formats, such as images, scans, or some pdfs by making them editable. You can find some suggestions in this article on the best OCR tools of 2018.

Voice recognition tools are not limited to smart homes and search engines. Have you ever dreamed of not having to sit by your computer when translating? Why not just dictate what you want to write while walking around your office freely. Dragon by Nuance is the market leader here.

Online dictionaries, corpora, and thesauri such as Linguee or The Free Dictionary give you instant access to terminology in context without having to research the terms yourself.