The Machine, the Human & the Translator

Freedom of speech, being in charge of expression, hopefully knowing when it’s best to keep your mouth shut – if this in some way describes you then I guess you’re in the right place!

The Language Brigade

Yes it’s wonderful to be au fait with all the latest news on language & translation tools – well let’s face it the list is pretty endless …..

First let’s take a look at  language tools designed to assist in grammar and spelling: 1) After the Deadline to fix your writing 2) the text expanding PhraseExpress & of course we have to go on to mention something to do with Crowdsourcing (it’s everywhere after all) 3) that wonderful tool Phras.in which really helps you to “make your mind up”!

Forget Me Not

Now if you’re having a little memory lapse; let’s face it we all have them now and again don’t we? To the rescue we have: Tip of my tongue (my god that is so annoying & apparently gets worse with age) & Wolfram Alpha (doesn’t that sound a little like something out of an X Men film) & of course if you happen to have an annoying 6-year-old kid you could always ask him to jog that ailing memory!

Work Like a Robot

Now let’s move on to translation tools, this could get heavy, bear with me. Every day I read blogs covering the subject of old tools, new tools & even tools still on the workbench. Interesting blogs don’t get me wrong, but I have to say I get a little dizzy with it all – When do I get to do some work? By the time I have learnt how to use all of these different tools my head will be far too mashed to get down to the real work of translating!

The Big Boys


Before we get on to the serious CATs let’s take a look at some of free translation tools available on the Net. We have the obvious Google Translate which in fairness can work if you keep your sentences very (very) simple and freedom of expression to the absolute minimum – oh & don’t think it will help you pass exams any time soon. Babel Fish in my opinion is Yahoo keeping up its fight with Google & quite honestly I hate the layout – the little goldfish needs to go!  There are many more but I would like to end with Reverso; although the translation tool is very much the same as Google’s, with very little difference in result, the dictionary is definitely worth a look at.

Now with CATs it seems that translators get very little choice when picking which tool is the best for them. If they want to work for clients who for example insist that they use Trados then Trados it is. However, I would still like to take a look at the vast choice on the market and how translators rate them.

Fuzzy Facts

If your “thing” is word then Wordfast is for you, with its apparently unrivalled handling of glossaries & quality control functions. Moving on we have SDL Trados which claims to enable organisations to manage all aspects of translation projects & according to the software description is presented in an easy-to-use way which you can arrange to look and work in way that suits you – my only problem with this is the constant cry of “fuzzy match” were Jochen Hummel and Iko Knyphausen eager to put translators on the grill? According to the research I made for this article my next example is the CAT tool furthest from the functions of Trados & that is Deja Vu.

Hanging up the Machine Made Gloves

OK that’s it, time to hang up the “I can blog on CAT tools” gloves and move on to what I know.

I would like to move away from machine for the moment & talk about the human, the dedicated professional sat at their PC day-in-day-out in order to stamp their personality on their latest translation. I think that we forget sometimes that without the human the machine is just a mass of wires, circuit boards & human programmed memory (amongst other things) – there to serve our purpose! Whether the human is faster with or without the assistance of the machine surely comes down to choice. I know one thing however, & that is this; if you want to keep your neurons sharp, be aware that what is happening here is that THEY want to do away with you! If they could find the ultimate machine to do 100% of the translators work your profession as a translator would disappear along with all of those beautiful languages we all so desperately want to save! Are you really ready to let that happen?

Keeping it real


For all of the reasons above, this is why this blog will remain within the domain of human stories, about human workers doing everything humanly possible to save this “dying” art!

If you enjoy reading human stories about human translators then please vote for this blog in “the 100 language lovers 2011”.

Vote the Top 100 Language Professionals Blogs 2011

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Filed under english translator, french translator, languages, linguists, professional translators, translation company, Translations, translations french to english

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