The Linguist

The Linguist 52,4

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 19 of 35

TRANSLATORS' WEB Change is a-coming New technologies bring new demands. Nataly Kelly asks how linguists can meet the challenges ahead, as the lines between translation and interpreting appear to blur T appear to be having much impact on the productivity of individual translators, or on the industry at large. A 2012 study by Common Sense Advisory showed that the daily output rate for translators using CAT tools was only slightly more than the 2,500word average. So, if CAT tools are not increasing the speed of translation, what will? illnesses, such as vision problems and arthritis, begin to appear. In subtitling, the work involves both text and speech, even if the output is written. Conversely, translators who work in dubbing often have output that is spoken. So, the more we dive into the subtleties of our professions, the more overlap we discover. Two separate professions? How we communicate The field of interpreting has long been looked at as a separate profession from translation. Indeed, along with many colleagues, I have tried to help people from outside the industry to understand the difference by explaining: 'translators work with written language and interpreters with spoken language'. Of course, in reality there are many problems with this simplified – if not simplistic – description. First of all, many translators deal with spoken language, and many interpreters deal with written language. When I took my interpreter certification exam, one of the skills I was tested on was 'sight translation' – verbally rendering a written document in the other language. This skill is not so different from the translators of yesteryear who dictated their translations. So how different is this work? Obviously, there is some overlap. Many translators use dictation software, either for physical reasons or as a productivity booster. They tell me they find this faster than typing themselves, especially when age-related Adding sign language to the mix forces us to think about visual information, and the possibility of communicating beyond speech and text. It requires us to think about communicating via video. When it works properly, video technology provides the best of all worlds: you can display visual information while conveying audio information, and you can also have text on screen in the form of captions or subtitles. Video is the most well-rounded and comprehensive method of communication. However, it isn't as universally affordable or accessible as text, at least not in most Western societies. If we look beyond the Western worldview, we begin to see that spoken and visual information are of much greater importance than text-based information to the majority of societies on earth. Of the 6,000-7,000 languages in the world today, just 2,261 have writing systems. All of them, except the signed languages, have a spoken form. Machine translation is available in a relatively small number of languages – 65 in the case of Google Translate. These tools have their limits, which they will reach eventually, unless they can automate spoken and visual information. An even greater challenge is that, in many languages, very little information is available. A writing system does not guarantee the © VLADIMIR MUCIBABIC | DREAMSTIME.COM ranslators who started out within the last 20 years or so can barely fathom it, but there was a time – prior to the invention of word processing software – when people translated primarily using speech, dictating their translations aloud. From there, a typist would render the dictation in written form. Even though the process involved two people, it was more efficient than having a translator write out the target text by hand. A normal rate of speech is roughly twice as fast as typing, so you can deliver twice as much content via spoken language as you can via written language. Most professional translators have an average output of around 2,500 words a day. That is around 312 words an hour or 5.2 words a minute. This doesn't seem fast, but that's because a lot more than just typing is taking place. Translation takes time. This has spurred the development of many technologies. When buyers of translation are asked why they turn to machine translation, their number one response is 'turnaround time'. The need for speed has sparked an interest among technologists for greater investment in methods, systems and software that can speed up the translation process. Computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools have many benefits, including consistency and reduced costs, but they do not

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Linguist - The Linguist 52,4