Jul 03


Digitalisation has an ever-larger impact on translating and is changing companies’ development paradigms and practical operation models. The translation process itself is very technologically demanding – new translation and quality assurance technologies are constantly being developed along with numerous other tools that must be mastered and implemented into the work process in order to meet various customers’ needs and expectations. EUATC Slovenian member, Združenje prevajalskih podjetij (SATC) which organised the first ever TransDigit conference with the goal of discussing current relevant translation topics, focusing on digitalisation. The main discussions were centred on quality assurance, marketing, development of technologies and tools, the transformation of the translator’s work process and data security. Now read SATC's report on the outcomes.

Quality assurance remains one of the translation industry’s top priorities

The integration of new technologies, such as translation tools, into the work process substantially reduced the risk of possible errors in translation. These tools enable the creation of content databases and glossaries containing relevant terminology that aid translators and at the same time allow for errors to be discovered and corrected on time. At TransDigit, the practical applications of three most commonly used translation tools were presented: MemoQ, Transit and SDL Trados, along with the possibilities and solutions they provide the user with during translation and quality assurance. Of course, the tools themselves can never do it all and the finishing touches always remain to be done by humans – professionals and experts who perform reviews to ensure the grammatical and linguistic integrityof the end-product.

Substantial technological advances in the field of marketing offer numerous options for approaching and presenting yourself to customers

In the end, even the highest quality service must also be sold (at the appropriate price). A major portion of the conference was therefore dedicated to the discussion of digital marketing and sales. Digital marketing opens up completely new possibilities of approaching and addressing target audiences. However, for any business to find a suitable working solution for itself, these new options must be put to the test and experimented with in practice. Nowadays, translation companies put a lot of emphasis on content marketing, for instance by creating practical language advice. By promoting correct language use, they try to raise awareness of the fact that proper writing and translating are not simple tasks and require a certain level of competence and experience. Furthermore, all marketing activities should be planned for the long term – as there are almost no immediate effects – with consumer response and sales effects being monitored constantly.

During the marketing lectures, the attendees realized there has been a surge of foreign words use in modern marketing campaigns, which would justify the creation of a suitable glossary. Another challenge this brings with it is reconciling modern marketing techniques with proper language use. For example, Google ads require certain rules to be followed, such as length constraints and use of capitalization to make ads more visible. However, such practices often lead to grammatical errors. In an industry where proper language use is the credo, this is of course unacceptable.

Quo vadis, translatio?

In the final event, the round table on digitalisation and technological development in the translation industry, the discussion centred on the coming years of the development of translation tools and machine translation in general, and especially on what kinds of advancements are expected for the language combinations of our region, how they will affect the quality of translation and how to ensure proper data protection.

What is changing?

Translation companies are starting to sense a need for introducing new types of positions into their businesses, especially in the field of IT. They must invest in development, test several tools; some companies are even developing their own. It is becoming more and more apparent that in the next 10 years the translation industry will undergo substantial changes. The work process, job profiles, required competencies for employees and translators, and subsequently the way of charging and setting prices for services will all need to adapt. Anita Hostnik, president of the Slovenian Association of Translation Companies explains: "At the recent EUATC conference in Madrid, several experts pointed out that we will soon no longer be counting characters, words and pages, but will only be charging hourly rates. Whoever is not already thinking about this and will not be ready to adapt quickly is looking at some hard times ahead.“ 

Machine translation tools,being developed by most tech giants, are advancing at a staggering rate too. They are not perfect but are growing more and more sophisticated. This is especially true of major language combinations, such as English, German and Spanish, as well as Chinese and Japanese, where texts are vastly more plentiful. The round table has come to agree that the abovementioned major combinations will most likely receive a useful machine translator much sooner than our region’s languages. Regardless of that, new developments must constantly be monitored. 

Will technology replace human translators?

Dr Špela Vintar, professor at the Department of Translation at the Faculty of Arts in Ljubljana, thinks that “technology will undoubtedly have a significant impact on reshaping the translation profession already in the near future, but will not replace it. This is why we try to prepare our students for these quick changes with different projects that will grant them the necessary competencies they will need in order to qualify for the new translation job profiles. The profession is becoming more and more interdisciplinary. There is a new interdisciplinary field being developed at the Faculty, which connects traditional linguistics and translation studies with computer science and digital communication and a good knowledge of the legal and ethical side of digital communication. We could call this new job profile digital linguist.”

What about security?

Rapid digitalisation brings with it a growing concern for data security on all levels. Both individuals and companies, internal business processes and external communication must be kept secure. In practice, the level of security still varies quite a bit, and in the translation industry it is urgently necessary tomake the customers and translators aware of possible security risks involving unencrypted digital file transfers and dedicate more resources to personal data protection. 

In conclusion, the round table moderator Alen Dominić stressed that “all translation companies as well as individual translators must be well prepared for the arrival of new technologies, including machine translators, and the fact that the translation profession is eventually going to change, bringing with it changes also to the work and company structures.” He went on to point out the fairly widespread but unsafe use of free e-mail accounts which can lead to sensitive data falling into the wrong hands.

The first TransDigit conference achieved its goals. We gathered and presented content that is useful, practical and interesting, particularly to translation companies, their employees and their external contractors. The feedback was very positive and a unanimous assessment was made that there are not enough events like this in Slovenia. The Association’s president, Anita Hostnik, President of the Slovenian Association of Translation Companies (SATC) acknowledged this with the following words: “SATC will try its best to make this conference a yearly event that strives to connect all active participants in this industry – companies, translators and educational institutions alike. Only together can we achieve greater recognition of the industry and a better appreciation for the meaning of quality and expertise in our field.”