Best Practices

Why this pessimistic future about translators is not likely to happen

The place translation industry will occupy depends on the approach with AI and the willingness to adapt and reinvent
Thalita Lima
6 min
Table of Contents

Augmented, Disrupted, or Insulated: which place translation industry will occupy in the future?
Let’s be honest, literal translation has been on thin ice for a while. Even before AI, translation memories and glossaries started reducing the number of translation projects. And now, with AI, literal translations are basically gone. Or, to put it less dramatically, they’ve been disrupted.

Don’t worry, you are likely to see more translation jobs, while one form of content disappears, new ones take its place. Augmented Translation is the bet for a future with more optimistic perspectives in this field. Let’s understand why.

Just to enter some research and show that we are not the only ones optimistic about AI integration into workflows. A recent study by LinkedIn, called the "Future of Work Report” (November 2023), assessing the role of AI in work, shows that 74% of executives believe GAI (Generative Artificial Intelligence) will benefit their employees, and 47% of professionals globally believe AI will advance their careers.

This is the second report by the company approaching the wave of debates among professionals and business leaders about how artificial intelligence can affect jobs.

Augmented, Disrupted or Insulated: What do these terms represent?

The term "disrupted" refers to jobs that will be lost or completely transformed into something else. "Augmented" jobs are those that will change significantly but survive. "Insulated" jobs will remain virtually the same. The latter is definitely not compatible with the AI-integrated translation universe, which is constantly evolving.

Translation has positioned itself as "augmented" since the early uses of machine translation, long before Gen AI. It has continually transformed to survive.

What's the difference between Augmented Translation and MTPE?

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Machine Translation Post-Editing (MTPE) is any editing done by the translator after content has been translated by a machine. When we think of MTPE, we immediately think of correcting syntax in the content. Correcting word groups for coherence in the text, swapping adverbs for adjectives, changing prepositions and pronouns, etc.

However, MTPE is commonly associated with mere syntactical correction, which can make the translator feel like just a "linguistic janitor" of the text.

When we elevate translation to another level and also consider semantics, we are talking about Augmented Translation.

Semantics refer to the meaning of words. What mental images do they create? This response will depend on the context, language variants, group, or individual. It's much more sensitive. And it's up to the translator's cultural competence to capture these nuances to create what we call Context-Sensitive Translation.

Augmented Translation captures both semantic and syntactic aspects. It has a more refined sense, that’s why the term "translation smells". It detects various issues: typos, word omissions, subject-verb agreement, cultural inadequacy, gender bias, and more. 

What changes with Augmented Translation?

The qualifications required for translators are significant. They need to adapt to AI and "tame" it to work for them. And we know that these technologies also change fast.

Augmented Translation is about raising the level of translations. It reaches where human capabilities cannot and enhances translation capacity.

How does Augmented Translation work? The Context-Sensitive Translation experience we offer with Bureau Works is an example. We produce translations by combining glossaries, machine translation, and translation memories. 

This combination captures everything that could be considered an error and offers the translator the option to accept or reject the suggestion. It shapes their text and in the same path enhances their tool.

Is the human touch truly required, or is it a dispensable detail?

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The "human touch" is not just an accessory in our industry.

In Augmented Translation, even with the use of AI, the translator's role is to preserve the authorship sense of a text. Taking care of this aspect is a requirement for truly professional translations. It also enhances the translator's "feeling of authorship".

Clients are definitely not willing to pay for an expensive service with translations made from drafts that deliver content with no performance results. You already know that.

But by understanding the nature of AI, its intrinsic flaws, and its advantages in terms of production, time, and cost, clients will demand and value even more the post-editing done by the translator.

You might wonder: how to match with these clients? The point is they are not just out there; the translator and agencies seek them. Precisely because we are talking about an expanding market, innovations are still unfamiliar to some. This requires the professional to know how to present the gains of professional translation.

From an optimistic perspective, it remains for the translator to invest in resilience, be flexible, and open to embracing emerging technologies. This is not the time to stop; it's the time to move forward to increase the value of human translators.

Improving and adapting is the key to leading trends.

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Thalita Lima
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