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Technical Translation

Hype or Help? The Role of Technology in Technical Translation

At work, as at home, it is easy to become distracted by the latest ‘shiny object’. A new tool or device that promises to make your life easier can be hard to resist, even if your toolbox is already overflowing with several hundred dollars worth of equipment. 

But, tools alone rarely provide all the answers. As anyone who dedicates their free time to DIY, fishing, or any other hobby knows all too well, it is most often the combination of time, experience, and equipment that makes the difference. And this applies just as much to our working lives as to our downtime.

In the language services industry, the newest ‘shiny object’ is, of course, machine translation (MT). 

Understanding the Potential of Machine Translation 

Heralded by many as a quick and cheap alternative to professional translation providers, MT systems are reviled by others who view them as the beginning of a race to the bottom on quality and price. Of course, the reality sits somewhere between those two extremes: As with many shiny new solutions, it is how the technology is applied that offers the greatest benefits for customers.

Existing MT systems can not compete with the knowledge and experience held by a human linguist for most technical translation projects, but that is not to say that they cannot bring any value. As part of computer-assisted translation (CAT) workflows and methodologies, MT can provide linguists with the tools they need to save time, reduce error and streamline manual tasks when translating technical content. In the future, MT may even offer the potential to do more. 

We saw a similar scenario play out in the technical documentation industry with the emergence of XML. Indeed, when discussions about XML first started at trade shows many years ago, some desktop publishers (DTP), technical writers, and product managers became convinced that this new technology would put them out of a job. Not only did that not happen, but DTP operators and technical writers are in as big a demand as ever right now. The only difference is that they have more tools at their disposal!

As a leader in tech-enabled translation processes, Protranslating is excited about the potential of MT to add value to its services. However, we believe its application needs to be appropriate to the project and the client. As things stand, this ‘shiny object’ is not yet the solution to every language challenge facing our customers.

Talk to Us About Our Technical Translation Processes

Protranslating, a BIG Language Company, routinely works with customers to develop efficient and cost-effective translation workflows. By analyzing your existing processes and use of technology, we can give rapid and practical advice that will help your company save time and money while improving translation quality. Contact us today to find out more. 

Pete Kugi has worked in the technical communications and translating industry for more than 35 years. He spent 20 years in production roles before moving into customer solutions. Pete has a keen understanding of what it takes to effectively produce and manage technical information and translations within the original equipment manufacturing industry. Contact him at pkugi@protranslating.com.

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