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On March 21, 2019, I will have the honor of speaking at the TAUS Global Content Summit in New York. I believe translators and interpreters need a new identity. Translators must be capable of interpreting and interpreters must be qualified in translation. Transinterpreters embrace new tools, are savvy in today’s technology, are digital and mobile. They acquire soft skills to adapt to fast change and solve problems in original ways. I suggest these future Transinterpreters will be recruited from new pools of bilingual individuals worldwide.
Sidenote: I believe “old guard” translators and interpreters might be able to hold on to some niche markets as the “experts” in their fields. But if they continue to remain ignorant in the technologies of our world (electronic, virtual, digital, mobile, and similar), maybe that time will not last much either. For example, literary translators and conference interpreters might have a longer “shelf-life” than other old-school translators and interpreters, but maybe just for one decade or two.
As the world changes, every profession and craft must adapt to the changes in their world. Even artists such as painters and writers have learned to use the technologies of our time and the changes in the social conditions and communication channels. So too, the specific needs for translators and interpreters have changed. What we are expected to do, how, where, and even why and whom with, all has changed in the past two or three decades.
To give you an example, in 2011 I started some of the first webinars on remote interpreting, using phone and video. I received some comments from “experts” who had a strong position against the concept of remote interpreting. Today, it is a tried and true means of delivering interpreting, to the point that even conference interpreters are entering the world of working from remote locations.
In the field of translation, in 2013 I predicted that in a few years we would be starting most of our translations with a draft pre-translated by a machine. Post-editing is now widely used commercially and the pace is growing exponentially, to the point that even post-editing of machine translation may already be replaced by just the tasks of revision. And yes, I know that a huge amount of companies and individuals still don’t use machine translation, but they soon will, as the technology becomes cheaper and easier to use.
I will now admit that translators and interpreters will not be replaced (in the short-term) by technology, but insist they will be replaced by other translators and interpreters USING technology. This is already proving to be correct. Many have seen dramatic drops in their workloads. I am guessing they are the non-tech-savvy. Others, on the contrary, have seen dramatic increases in their workloads. They are, I believe, the tech-savvy ones.
Additionally, there is something else brewing in the air. The need for translators to be able to interpret and interpreters to be able to translate (or post-edit machine translation outputs). Why? Because in our interconnected world, voice and text are becoming interchangeable. Today we can listen to Siri or voice GPS and can dictate the texts to be sent by our phones. Likewise, in a world of remote interconnections, your clients may hire you for an interpreting session but might very well ask you to translate some texts. Or if you are working on a client’s translation, you might be asked to interpret the conversations around the modifications to the original or the translated texts.
Finally, talking about soft skills, two decades ago, translation and interpreting were “alone” professions. If you were a translator, you worked alone. If you were an interpreter, very seldom would you work in a team environment. All this has changed. Translation is now just a piece of a big group puzzle called language services, and interpreting is becoming a team effort. Soft skills are now essential as business is done at an increasingly fast pace. You must now also be agile, adaptable, flexible, and creative at solving problems; you are expected to act as a team player, have the ability to accept and learn from criticism, display a positive can-do attitude, demonstrate self-confidence, and work well under pressure.
Yes, Transinterpreters are individually a super-man or a super-woman. We have always known translators and interpreters were that, but now it is a requirement of the job! (Smile, please).
Remote Interpreting: Feeling Our Way into the Future Published by The ATA Chronicle New communications technologies make interpreting available where it wasn’t in the past. We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shape the way we will work remotely, because what’s going on is game changing and shaking our profession from top to bottom. In April […]
Preamble for translators and interpreters: Maybe (just maybe) machines will not replace “all” human translators and interpreters, but all of us will be replaced by some language experts using the latest technologies. It is therefore paramount to play catchup and get on-board with actions to become technologically savvy without delay!
I recently read an 11/29/17 Washington Post Article by Marwa Eltagouiri about an 84-year-old physician who lost her license to practice medicine because she refuses to use a computer, thus failing to comply with New Hampshire State Law on medical record-keeping protocols. In reality, the case centers more around the opioid epidemic and this physician’s inability to meet the State’s electronic drug monitoring program regulations. Whatever the situation, the entire case goes to underline the “electronic” (vs. paper) component that is clearly at the heart of the issue. Regardless of what the physician believes, it is now the law to keep electronic records. That is how fast the world has moved forward in ascertaining the cyberspace as the “factual” space, as well as modern technologies as the underpinning supports for some interactions.
Although some discussions are still going on as to whether doctors have it “better” or “worse” today as a result of this technological revolution, such disagreements are do not change the fact that things “are” what they are.
Just 30 years ago –which, in historical terms, is a short period– the National Institutes of Health via NCBI still wondered if doctors had a positive or negative attitude towards computers! From those “opinion pieces,” we now see ourselves working in a world completely different from the one for which most “older” physicians were preparing 30 or 40 years ago. Everyone in the healthcare and medical fields has had to “suffer” through a very steep technology-learning curve, especially in the last two decades. In 1999 I was working at a large insurance company that employed many nurses and doctors, and I remember all of them saying they would never -ever!- use computers.
Life is not a straight line. At the end of the last century (Wow! that sounds like a long time ago!), we were implementing (*) Y2K conformity requirements, (*) the newly instituted HIPAA provisions (or equivalent efforts in other parts of the world), and (*) the novel C.L.A.S. mandate (and other cultural competency efforts around the globe). In the last 15-20 years, these monumental programs were incorporated into our routine and are now a “mainstream” aspect of our daily life.
My point, then, is that our “way of life” –our daily activities as we perceive them today– is a concept that must be re-evaluated constantly as internal and external forces change and shape it into something different than what we were “used to” just a few years ago. The rate of innovation brought about by the accelerated developments in available technologies is speeding up such rate of change. I look at my grandkids, and all of them were born after Y2K. Even for my adult children, the Cold War is a remote history lesson. Yesterday, TCM showed a movie from my youth and talked about the cinematographic importance of this “classic.” Statistically speaking, a hundred years ago I would have been dead already for a couple decades, as life expectancy for women did not even reach 40 years old!
We must at all times be aware of our surroundings, which includes perceiving, understanding, and adapting to the technological changes (extraordinary and progressive) going on around us!
For translators and interpreters, words are literally the tools of our trade. It is with words, through words, in words, by words that we communicate. Thus, we must always be looking to expand our vocabulary. In this context, In April 2013 I will again join forces with ProZ.com to train translators and interpreters in the basic vocabulary of healthcare, finance, business and legal settings. I will also have a very special session called “chasing terms online”, where I explain the many tricks I have learned over the years finding the appropriate translation of terms in the Internet, and a final session on how to build your own glossaries. Each one of these sessions is 90 minutes long and will be available live at noon every Tuesday in April and after that by recorded video that you may see in your own schedule.
The first session provides the basic information and terminology used in the healthcare industry. Topics include information on the medical and healthcare professionals, anatomy and physiology, the main body systems and organs, diseases and illness, common medical conditions, symptoms, treatment options, and diagnostic tests, amongst others.
In the second session, you will get acquainted with the terms most commonly used in the (U.S.) courts, as well as the penal and law enforcement systems, immigration, and the major legal business systems and law specialties, with more than 500 commonly used terms.
The third session will provide the basic information and resources to study the terminology used in business settings and the financial industry. Topics include business concepts, organizational structures, human resources, contracts, marketing and sales, accounting, financial statements, multinational business, and global acronyms, amongst many others.
In the fourth session, you will learn to use the many free online glossaries and translation databases available for translators and interpreters; harness the power of the internet and make your search easier, faster, more productive and consistent, with some of the basic tricks of term research online in the 21st Century: Where to find the meaning of terms, how to combine words and phrases to retrieve information that is valuable to your search; where and how to search the internet; how to bookmark and create your lists of favorite FREE sites for easy search in the future. Topics include Web search operations, online glossaries, databases and other freebies, reliable resources, how to find the strongest source and bookmarking for future use.
Finally, the bundle wraps-up with a session on how to create your personal glossaries, making it easier for you to work on translations or prepare for your interpreting assignments, while ensuring consistency and accuracy for the future. You will learn a basic methodology to search for terms, working with your own template, creating and gradually accumulating your personal glossary by client or domain; learn what, when, and how to enter and retrieve information, change and update it. You may later use it online or print it for your own translations and interpretation, or you may wish to share it with your clients.
PREPARATION materials will be shared BEFORE each session, and HANDS-ON exercises to be completed AFTER each session. Each student is expected to be fully engaged with ACTIVE listening, individual thinking and processing of information, as well as hands-on note-taking and interactive activities. Every one of these is a fast-pace session with an upbeat and lively mood, requiring full engagement on the part of the participant.