What affects the productivity of professional translators?

Published on 09/02/2021

Professional translators are essential today, at the same time they are relegated to the background by technology. Forced to collaborate with machines, they have to face new elements that sometimes slow down their work and sometimes speed it up.

Here is what changes and what does not change in terms of productivity in professional translation.

Linguistic and technical issues of professional translation

Linguistic and technical issues of professional translation

Professional translators are subject to various levels of difficulty in relation to the work entrusted to them. The elements that can affect the speed of professional translations are:

  • Specificities and regionalisms of the language of origin or destination.
  • Technical complexity and degree of specialization in a specific field.
  • Availability of previous translations, similar translations, or tools (for example, glossaries) provided by the client.
  • Quality and clarity of the original documents and accuracy of the terms used.

The profile of professional translators

The profile of professional translators

The level of experience and knowledge, both in a specific area of specialization and in general knowledge, obviously influences the performance of translation professionals.

In addition, professional translators are increasingly faced with specialized translation jobs requiring specialized technical knowledge.

Why? Because the fields in question, be they scientific, medical, legal or financial, have their own jargon that machine translation alone cannot transcribe perfectly.

In this case, translation agencies as AbroadLink Translations have collaborators who are specialized and expert translators in their fields.

The role of translation tools in translator productivity

The role of translation tools in translator productivity

Searching an online multilingual dictionary is now faster than a traditional paper dictionary. New technologies, used wisely, also make the job of professional translators easier. Translators use machine translations as basic texts that they post to speed up their work.

Professional translation tools and methods are:

  • Computer-assisted translation (CAT) programs.
  • Online machine translation programs.
  • Translation memories.
  • Specialized glosses.
  • All relevant content available online, such as specialized databases.

Two help sites for professional translation

Two help sites for professional translation

Linguee, based in Cologne (Germany) and creator of the online translator DeepL, is a site widely used by professional translators. The latter find the largest database of phrases translated not by machines, but by humans.

This site, complemented by other online tools, allows you to quickly solve translation problems in specific fields (medicine, technology, law, etc.).

Another online tool used by professional translators is Back. According to its founder, Theo Hoffenberg, Reverso helps professional translators "become more efficient" and it is one of the tools that can help clarify certain translations.

The other side of technology in professional translation

The other side of technology in professional translation

As Andrés López Ciruelos says, in his article published in the Panace @ magazine «A critical defense of translation memories», in 2003 «I don't think memories will take away our work, but I am convinced that in the not too distant future they will make it much easier for us».

It is a clear example of the technology efficiency and translation memories, which goes much further than we could have imagined, although it is not yet fully developed. Andrés López Ciruelos considers, at least in the specific case of translation memories, that the disadvantages are as numerous as the advantages.

As for their own professional translators, attest that these new working methods reduce their work to more segmented tasks. This forces them to apply techniques contrary to those learned in the university and that do not allow them to have an overview of the texts.
Indeed, computerized translation tools are always reduced to translating one sentence after another without understanding the general cohesion of the texts, which is very important in the field of translation.

However, despite technological advances and the tools of professional translators as they continue to evolve, nothing can replace the skill and experience of translators in their respective fields of expertise.

So, translation companies, which bring together the best, will continue to be in demand in the future.

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Virginia Pacheco's picture
Virginia Pacheco

Blog writer and Community Manager interested in multiculturality and linguistic diversity. From her native Venuzuela, she has travelled and lived for many years in France, Germany, Cameroon and Spain, passing on her passion for writing and her intercultural experiences.

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