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Translation Technology – The Digital Age in Translations

Not so long ago, the translation process was done almost entirely manually. Can you imagine now, especially in our era where we are “flooded” with content in every direction we look, using the same practices when it comes to localizing a certain content?

In the middle of this digitalization, the borders no longer have any impact on business: these have the potential to become global, no matter the scale or industry. And in the very center of this globalization, there are the high quality localization services.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the companies, no matter the industry, have accelerated their digital transformation processes, and have often been faced with big challenges, forcing them to make decisions and rethink their strategies and the way they make and localize this content. One of these ways was represented by Machine Translation: although it has been on the market for decades, it is now in the spotlight, its evolution being especially influenced by a technological leap in 2017, when the Neural Machine Translation (NMT) component has been implemented. It focuses on imitating the process of thinking of the translator, contributing to a result with a more natural tone of voice by capturing the essence and the nuances in more precise ways.

What is translation technology?

The so-called translation technology represents the use of software tools that support the conversion of a text from one language to another. As well as in most of the technology assisted activities, also in the translation industry, the technological tools can help increase productivity, accuracy, quality and overall efficiency. This term captures everything from translation memories to terminology management tools, machine translation, voice-to-text tools, and various technologies for virtual interpretation.

Before the emergence of these technologies, translation and localization were made manually, the translators consulting paper dictionaries and glossaries and often relying just on their own judgment. Without underestimating the old approach, there have been, over time, negative impacts on businesses: a longer time-to-market for a product (because of a long and though translation process), lack of consistency in terminology (technology cannot be globally uniform), bigger costs for less efficient operations, low quality translations (because of the need to manually check and correct any errors).

But all these have changed with the burst of these technologies.

Translation memories, which store previous translations to improve and accelerate future processes, spelling programs and management systems, among others, increase the control and contribute significantly to the automated repetitive processes.

How does this technology help business globally?

These tools offer businesses all over the world:

  • Translation quality assurance;
  • Improvement of the operational efficiency through automation;
  • Increased consistency of translations;
  • Acceleration of the time-to-market by producing more content in less time.

What are the main types of technology tools for the translation industry?

Computer Assisted Translation (CAT) tools, such as Trados Studio, Phrase, Crowdin or Wordbee, among others– software applications which, by means of termbases and translation memories built upon previous translations, assist on the one hand the translator in his daily activity through a more efficient and faster process, delivering a homogenous result in terms of terminology, and on the other hand, they allow companies to translate larger volume in a shorter time. Read more about CAT tools and other related software here.

Machine translation (MT) – as we mentioned before, Machine Translation represents an autonomous process which transposes the text from one language to another, without the raw product needing human intervention. Find out more about MT here.

Platforms for managing translation projects on a larger scale – these are key tools for the streamlining of processes because they allow users to personalize and design their own workflows based on the actual needs of a localization project.

The contribution of technology in the context of globalization

We live in a highly connected and fast-paced world, where consumers expect that all their experiences are user-friendly, seamless, accessible, while benefitting at the same time of high-quality products and services based on their needs.

Thus, in such a context, the importance of localization – the process of adapting a brand’s message and look to a particular market and culture – has emerged – to be able to deliver content of different types, in multiple languages, to different markets. Localization represents more than just a simple translation, the companies not needing word-for-word translations to conquer these new markets, but translations that can sell a product in a new region, more unfamiliar than the native one. The challenge is no longer represented only by the linguistic barrier, but by the ability to transpose a product or a service in another language and country, considering the cultural differences.

With the help of technology, companies can streamline and speed up their localization processes to stay one step ahead of the competition, while keeping an eye on costs and meeting customer expectations and demand, achieving their globalization goals quickly and qualitatively through efficient and scalable solutions.

The future of the language industry

Thanks to machine learning, technology in this industry now offers solutions for everyone, and with the evolutions in artificial intelligence, it will surely be indispensable, especially with the emergence of even smarter tools. If the industry standards are already circling around a fast turnaround, lower costs, with no negative effect on the quality of the product, then these new features will make the process even easier, faster, and certainly more accurate.

However, we believe that the translation process will never be fully automated without the help of human intervention, the two components complementing each other. Machine Translation cannot replace translators, but it can help them automize the repetitive processes, gaining extra time for the post-editing step, contributing this way with the human ability to give the translation the specific voice, style and meaning based on each project. This collaboration will have the best results, facilitating the transition from computer-assisted human translation to human-assisted machine translation. Read more about the role of human translation in the current context here.

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You can find a few more blogposts here.
Date of publication: 23.03.2023
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