Language service providers (LSPs) include translators, interpreters, linguists, proofreaders, language teachers and the project managers that oversee them. Writing for LSPs can run the gamut from articles on staving off dementia by becoming bilingual to more industry specific topics on how translation is essential to patient recruitment, for example. Even though the range is all-encompassing, the integral theme running through each piece’s foundation is always centered on language and culture. Knowing how human-centered the industry is will help in writing credible articles for LSPs.
Whether writing about translation for marketing on the global scale or even about the difficulties of translating idioms, never forget that a translator’s job isn’t just words, language, grammar and verb conjugations. There is so much more to it than that. Often articles about translations hint at how vital and irreplaceable translators are in the technology-laden world in which we live. Machine translation will never quite take over that multi-faceted job.
In our fickle, fast-paced world, the thought of getting perfect translations in the blink of an eye by using a machine translator is enticing, but also misguided. Why? Machine translations are rarely perfect and deeply flawed, despite all of the recent innovations. Here are the elements that sum up job security for language service providers, specifically translators.
Translation is Not Linear
Translators do not simply look at a word and replace it with another because words in one language do not always directly translate with words in another language. Idioms almost never translate and every country has their own. Translators use their knowledge of languages to create the same meaning and impact of the original text.
Just like having studied a language in college doesn’t automatically qualify someone to be a translator, machines are inferior for a job that requires a more in-depth approach.
Translation is Human and Subjective
Language is incredibly complex and subjective. Translation is more than a simple document that needs to be converted from one language to another. There are many layers to translation and nearly all the layers have to do with humans and human interaction. Translators deal with words and the humans behind them — people with differing personalities, cultures, needs, desires, and wants. Nuance, shifting perspectives and even body language are all decidedly human elements. Understanding and respecting a different culture is required. ALL of these elements make up a translator’s job. All require skills beyond word-for-word translation. Translators’ passion for languages help them hone their craft, adapt and overcome problems and balance this human element in order to deliver a product that is as close to the source as humanly possible.
In contrast, machines are not capable of subjectivity. Where humans can see infinite possibilities, a computer can only see one, which leads to limited and many times inaccurate translations. Computers often fail to correctly translate subtleties and expressions. Human linguists can decipher meanings behind complex phrases with more precision.Many a multilingual has been disappointed in the crudely created subtitles of their favorite movies, where the translation has fallen very short of its intended meaning. (Perhaps it was done by machine translation or an unskilled human translator?) If a skilled human translator were used, they could have kept the poetic nature of language alive.
When it comes to translation, context is critical. In order to derive meaning, human translators use a holistic approach to the process of translation. They can find the most accurate meaning by using context clues, seeing how the words relate to the words around them. Machines are incapable of doing this. Machines can only see one word, not the correlation of many.
Technology can only go so far
Technology certainly helps translators do their job. In fact, many translation companies integrate technology when collaborating with clients to create a quality result. Any time they utilize machine translation, however; they also always have it proofread by a human. Technology can never be the only piece of the translation puzzle.
It’s not just about the final document
Translators also know the deliverable is not just the translation itself. The process is more holistic. It includes motivating the people involved and creating positive work environments. Understanding the client’s objectives by listening to their needs, adapting to changes and overcoming problems that may arise results in a cohesive, high quality product and a happy client.
No matter how many technological advances come our way, translation is a human-centered business. Translators and others in the language service provider realm help us communicate across borders, languages, and cultures. They are the binding agent to better working and personal relationships. Translations make and break deals and often times can save or harm people’s lives. Well translated marketing plans help companies expand globally. They make the world a little smaller and all of us a little closer each time they interpret, translate, or teach. Remembering all of these fundamental parts will make writing for the language service industry richer and more authentic.
5-Star writer Ilona K is a writer who can blog and also write technical documents. She can handle both the serious and sublime. And she does them all with professionalism, wit and a song in her heart.
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