You could be forgiven for thinking one of two things about translation technologies: either they are a race of super machines driven by Artificial Intelligence (AI), set to take over the linguistic world, or, they are the answer to seamless global communication that we’ve been waiting for, for thousands of years. As is usually the case with opposing viewpoints, the real answer is found somewhere in between. There are real, tangible, benefits to using translation software. Likewise, there are unavoidable limitations. However, this debate is often solely focused on machine translation over human translation and leaves out the more periphery, though no less valuable, translation software that enables your translation provider to deliver flawless translations more efficiently than ever before.
The translation industry is boundless, swift, and essential to the running of every facet of our global community. Without translation, medical research would be severely hampered, international safety standards almost impossible to uphold, and legal disputes across borders would be mired in confusion and unfairness. Just as our technology ruled society has experienced incredible advancements in the last 25 years, so too has the translation industry. To keep up with the demand for services, innovative new software and technologies have been developed along the way to improve both the translation process and accuracy, making translation services today more reliable, efficient and cost effective.
Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) Tools
Computer-assisted translation tools (commonly referred to as “CAT tools”) such as Translation Memory (TM) allow the translation and localization of far greater volume at speed, without compromising accuracy. By storing terminology, regularly used phrases and sentences, these tools can pre-poluate subsequent translations, saving you money by ensuring you are not paying for repeat translations.
This also avoids any issues with inconsistency across translations for the same business or within the same industry. For example, it’s not unusual for two translators to have a different preferred word or term the target language for the same word the source language. In this instance, you could have technical manuals or information booklets using differing terminology for the same thing.
When it comes to important industry terminologies or trademarks, consistency is imperative. Here is where TMs come to the rescue. TMs memorize and centrally store important terminology, allowing for industry, customer, or even project-specific glossaries and terminology databases that can be used by all linguists working on a project. These systems continue building on this bank of data for future projects. In this way, TMs even allow for seamless collaboration between multiple translators and editors who are not in working in the same location.
Computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools can also assist translation providers in managing their own linguist resources and ensuring that clients are charged a reasonable price for every project. CAT tools allow the analysis of your source file(s) before the translation project begins, helping your translation team decipher how much consists of “new content” for translation versus how much can be pre-translated by leveraging stored translation units and segments — either complete matches or partial matches — along with terminology already stored in the system. With such demand for high-volume, low-cost translations; CAT tools are the perfect supplement to your human translation team. At PGLS, we use a wide variety of reliable CAT/TM tools, including SDL Trados, WordFast, Déjà Vu, MemoQ, and many more.
Interpreting is one of the oldest forms of translation, and now, even in this age, the old art has experienced technological advancement. There are some speech to text, automated interpreting services available, but for most, particularly in business, medical, and legal settings, a human interpreter is still vastly preferred.
So, how has technology aided this very human translation method? With the development of Over-the-Phone Interpreting (OPI) and Video Remote Interpreting (VRI), interpreting costs have decreased significantly, ending the need for an interpreter to travel to the location. Without these added costs, prices are now much more palatable to your organization, for example, in securing an interpreter for a large conference.
This technology also allows interpreters to be more readily available at the end of a phone line or video call whenever they are needed, eliminating long wait times and the necessity to book well in advance, particularly with languages of lesser diffusion. In fact, many interpreting services can now be requested almost immediately. An added benefit of this is the availability of specially-trained, industry relevant interpreters at your disposal when you need them. No more relying on whomever is either closest or has the availability to travel to your location. All you need to connect with an interpreter now is with a smartphone, tablet, or laptop with a good Internet connection, and you can be connected with a professional interpreter.
Translation Project Management Systems (TMS)
Translation Management Systems (TMS) are another software tool that automates much of the translation process and workflow, enabling easy project allocation, collaboration, review, and even management of job requests, delivery, and payments. These systems often allow the integration of existing translation memories and dictionaries, giving the whole linguistic team access to the same resources.
By effectively managing the workflow of your translation project, a TMS alerts each contributor when he or she is required to complete their part, saving time and ensuring fast, smooth transition of your project through each stage of the process, while keeping you in the loop in near “real-time.” The key to any successful language service lies in the efficiency of project management and proper customer communication.
At PGLS, we use the Plunet software platform to track and manage our language projects. An industry leader in business and translation project management, Plunet’s feature-rich system provides real-time overviews of all translation projects, dashboard management, quality enhancement features, and an online portal for clients to submit project requests.
Perhaps most importantly, by automating many of the more mundane administrative tasks associated with a language project by using a robust TMS platform, translation project managers are freed up to spend more time focusing on customer service and managing the quality control process rather than time-consuming manual data entry and spending hours searching for the right linguist for a project.
Localization Management Platforms
Localization has its own unique demands, often required for differing or new software, websites, games and applications. For such technically-demanding translation projects, a focused localization management platform is the ideal solution. Not only managing workflow and team collaboration but also allowing developers to utilize their own Integrated Development Environment (IDE) to assess and appropriately manage internationalization readiness.
The team here at PGLS relies on LingoPort for this vital support, with their expertly designed components and intuitive interface that enable our team of localization engineers, project managers, and technical translators to find and fix any issues early in the process, allowing for a streamlined workflow, with flawless results.
Website Translation Technology
Multilingual Content Management Systems (CMS) are crucial to the proper localization of multilingual websites. Making the provision for content in multiple languages with seamless language switching throughout, you promote a friendlier user experience, giving your website the best chance to resonate with as many potential customers as possible.
Last, but certainly not least, no conversation about translation technology would be complete without mentioning Machine Translation (MT). This is machine-assisted, or more accurately, machine pre-translated projects that are subsequently thoroughly reviewed and edited by human translators (also known as “Human-Assisted Machine Translation” or HAMT).
There are obvious time and cost saving aspects to this technology, and naturally, this has led to much investment and many advancements in this area of translation over the past decade.
Neural Machine Translation
The most notable advancement in translation tools was the advent of Neural Machine Translation (NMT). NMT, just as it predecessors, leverages existing terminologies and translations against newly input text. However, this technology is capable of learning when to use certain words and phrases and when to use others through human translator feedback. In this way, it’s gradually becoming a more “intelligent” and adaptable piece of translation software, one that only improves with time and practice.
For your business, this can mean that with each translation project, you are feeding the NMT with more information and are able to leverage your own previous translations against future projects, thus consistently saving your business more time and money, while enjoying the guarantee of that second set of eyes (so to speak) of the human translator post-editing your translations. This ensures that you receive the same great results, but at a fraction of the cost.
The Value of Translation Technology
We live in an ever more technological world, and with any advancement, there will be hesitancy, confusion, and, of course, sensational headlines like, ‘Is this the end of human translation!?’. In reality, with each step forward translation technology takes, the easier and more straightforward it will be for humans across the globe to communicate with each other.
Professional translation providers now have an armory of software at their disposal from Computer-Assisted Translation/Translation Memory (CAT/TM) tools, Translation Management Systems (TMS), Localization Solutions, as well as Machine Translation (MT). When implemented in the right way, this technology can be invaluable in making sure your translation and localization projects are word perfect and ready when you need them, each and every time.