If you do a search online on why translators need to learn about technology, you’ll see posts claiming two things:
- That translators hate technology and look at it as the bane of their existence and that if they could just get rid of technology, they would be able to concentrate on what they like to do: translation.
- That translators love technology and that no translator today can be a successful translator without fully embracing the latest and greatest translation technology.
Those are obviously the two extremes.
The one thing, however, that neither side tends to recognize is that whether or not you love technology or hate technology, you have to be willing to learn about it.
Why Learn About Translation Technology?
There’s a lot of reasons to learn about translation technology, whether you love it or hate it. Here are five.
Technology is here to stay
Translation technology is here to stay. There’s no denying that. Technology in general is the future. Put it another way. There is no future where technology does not exist. So you might as well not only get used to it, but learn to live with it and, even more so, learn to use it and even master it.
Technology is not evil. It is not against translators. However, not learning about translation technology will hinder you as a translator. Think of your grandma that doesn’t know how to use a cell phone because the technology is just too advanced. That will be you as a freelance translator if you don’t embrace translation technology
Translation technology can improve productivity
One of the arguments against translation technology is that it will eventually remove translators from the equation.
The thing is, people have been using this argument for years and it has yet to come to pass.
Sure, certain types of translation technology if perfected could change the role of a translator. But that’s only if the technology is perfect, which it’s not.
Instead, that translation technology can do something great for translators. And that is that it can improve a translator’s productivity tremendously. Translation tools (like translation software) exist that have the ability to significantly speed up a translator’s work rate. Which means more money per hour. Who would be opposed to that?
Mastering language technology will provide additional opportunities
I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again here. As a language professional, you don’t have to limit yourself to only earning money as a translator if you want to. Translation technology has opened up a whole new industries where translators can find ways to make extra money.
Sure, if you want to only focus on translation, then you can continue to do that.
However, if you’re like me and are interested in expanding your skills and like to do different things to keep from getting bored, delving into translation and language technology is a great direction to go.
Your clients will expect you to know about translation technology
In the end, if you’re a translator because you want to earn money, then it doesn’t matter whether or not you like or use translation technology.
Ultimately, it’s the client that will dictate your use of translation technology because your client will expect that you are keeping up with the technological advances in your industry.
If you’ve decided that you don’t want to keep pace with those technological improvements, eventually your clients will recognize that and drop you for someone more interested in translation technology.
Translation agencies need translators literate in translation technology
Your non-agency clients aren’t the only ones that expect you as a translator to be literate in translation technology.
Translation agencies also want to hire freelance translators that are knowledgeable about and that use translation technology.
Remember, translation agencies are not evil. Many translators have great relationships with translation agencies. But those relationships are best maintained when both sides are doing their best to make sure that they provide the best service possible. And part of that means that both sides are doing everything they can to save money, put out a quality product, and essentially meet the end clients expectations.
So remember, you can hate translation technology. You can love it.
But either way, you need to learn about it if you want to be a successful, professional freelance translator.
For more information on what you should know as a freelance translator, read my book.