In the words of... AnneMarie Taravella
AnneMarie Taravella is a certified translator who is currently studying the relationship between language technologies and organizations as part of her doctoral thesis in Administration at Université de Sherbrooke.
What led you to choose this thesis topic?
We are just now entering the age of language technology, a market that is undergoing phenomenal growth. While these tools enable rapid consultation of reference material, translation memories and archives, and help automate tasks such as checking grammar and spelling, they also completely change the way translators work. In fact, this is all so new that there's no telling the proportions these technologies will take on in terms of their relationship with human translation.
Do you think human translators are on their way to being replaced by language technologies?
No, I don't. While some technologies are astounding, I do not believe the human translator can be completely replaced. All technology can do is reproduce words; humans alone are capable of interpreting them at the moment. There is, of course, a possibility that some translation jobs will be eliminated, but by and large, the introduction of language technologies is more likely to lead to the creation of new translation-related careers and skill sets, namely in the areas of paralinguistic support and language consulting services.
So why are some so worried about these technologies?
It's the fear of change. There's no question that these technologies are reshaping the role of the translator as we know it. The days of translation being an isolated act are behind us; today's translator is one part of a larger translation process and must now serve as more of an expert or advisor. In reality, the issue is not so much the prevalence of these computer-assisted translation tools within the industry, but rather their influence on how a translator's work, rates and role are evaluated.
As with any organization faced with change, the key is to provide translators guidance and a listening ear. They need reassurance, as well as proper training before, during and after the deployment of any new tool. Translators' professional motivation, autonomy, creativity and sense of worth must be maintained. Likewise, they need to be reminded that these tools will not take away their bread and butter, since the takings are increasing at an exponential rate. With the globalization of the marketplace, demand for translation has exploded, and this increased demand has spurred the development of super tools our industry would be wise to embrace.