Globalization and new technology have not left the translation services of the EU institutions untouched. Successive enlargements have more than doubled not only the number of member states but also the number of official languages. The extension and deepening of the European integration have led to more and more different text types being produced and to an ever-increasing translation demand. At the same time, in-house translation staff per language is progressively being reduced. The pressure to provide more, faster and with fewer resources has led to a need to constantly re-think how we carry out the translation work. We all know the buzz words: doing more with less, doing more and better with less, being effective and efficient, doing the right things and doing them right. Increased focus on processes and on making optimal use of technology does lead to efficiency gains. Mostly, however, what saves the situation is an increased use of outsourcing, which implies challenges for the quality assurance.
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Can translation service providers and technology providers meet translation buyers’ requests? How can we evaluate the quality of both source and target within the translation process? How do we measure localization processes? These are just few of the questions that passed the review during the roundtable hosted by TAUS in Barcelona on May 12, 2016.
I was recently involved in a project to clean up TM pollution, where the target included a lot of translations from a different language variant. I had to work with the internal linguist to prepare a plan to do it in the most efficient way. No matter how many automation tricks I pulled from my hat, the linguist had reservations for them all and it seemed that, quality assurance-wise, nothing could beat running content through a pair of eyes. And yet the cost of manual review was prohibitive; plus one could also argue about the effectiveness of this approach, considering the amount of errors that keep showing up at every stage of a typical translation workflow, where manual review is present everywhere: translation-editing-proofing, client validation, QA/testing.
Over the last two decades our industry has spent a lot of time and energy making the localization process increasingly more efficient. Dollars spent in the process are highly leveraged thanks to the application of translation memories and machine translation, together with sophisticated expert systems and static analysis tools that help ensure that quality can still be achieved at scale. Companies that release products internationally know how to write global-ready code and content, standards exist and are generally adhered to. Companies wishing to extend into international markets for the first time have a deep bench of partners and suppliers that they can rely on to get the job done. Localizing products is not always a trivial task but it is one that is well understood by a mature industry.
On 15 March, the Imperial Riding School Renaissance Hotel in Vienna was transformed into a battlefield of ideas on new trends and topics related to translation automation during a TAUS Roundtable meeting. The Roundtable was organized around questions on the market viability of translation data, on innovative ways of measuring localization effectiveness and on machine translation quality.
Last year, I did some New Year's predictions in my post Wishing you an innovative 2015! reflecting on topics that would keep us awake in 2015. To continue writing on these expectations (calling them predictions might be too pretentious), making this a tradition, here is my two cents again on some of the new topics that will dominate this year’s blog posts and translation conferences. Last time, I talked about big data and business intelligence becoming the buzz words of the year. I also mentioned a new direction in the industry towards dynamic pricing based on quality and productivity results. And of course, translation quality will be a popular discussion topic everywhere you go. Just read on to see why...
The TAUS Annual Conference in Silicon Valley opened with a panel discussion about innovation led by Paula Shannon (Lionbridge) who skillfully introduced the concept of sustainable, disruptive and devastating innovation for her panel to discuss. Companies such as Airbnb and Uber were cited as examples of disruptive innovation and with the imminent TAUS Innovation Excellence Award to be given out, there was the distinct feeling that something new was about to happen.
The world can be overwhelming, so it’s tempting to try to make it smaller, more controllable. It’s the same with the world of localization. It’s overwhelming, so much content, so many languages. You would like to make it smaller, more manageable. I don’t want to make this a political debate, but I think we, localization professionals, know best that we cannot establish borders and keep them closed. The world is one. And in fact, if you think about it: our work is all about helping the world (and our customers) communicate better. Isn’t it great to work in a profession with such a noble ideology?