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Will technology replace interpreters ?

  Tags: Interpreting | Career
 Language Learning Forum : Languages & Work Post Reply
18 messages over 3 pages: 13  Next >>
Arekkusu
Hexaglot
Senior Member
Canada
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 Message 9 of 18
10 September 2013 at 3:59pm | IP Logged 
I second what Iwwersetzerin said. Your message could have been written ten years ago, but here we are ten years later and not much has changed in the profession. I’m a full-time translator and I do simultaneous interpretation every now and then.

The only aspect of translation that might have been affected is that simple texts people only need to get a gist of can now be translated by machines (in some language combinations, anyway). But these texts were never an important part of our job anyway. On the downside, the general public’s impression of translation may have slightly changed since many seem to think you can indeed just put a text in Google Translate and off you go.

On the other hand, advances in international communications have meant that there are a lot more texts being translated. On the freelance side of things, people come to me because they care about their business’ image. I don’t fear for my job.

A quick tip: if you plan on becoming a translator, learn how to write. This is the skill that’s hardest to find nowadays and one no computer can do.

As for interpretation, this is such an extreme task that requires getting the gist of the message, sorting through the useless and unsaid information, and reporting back a condensed version of the essence of that message in a few seconds, and computers are nowhere near getting close to part of that. When and if they ever are, I suspect there will still be settings in which the use of a computer would be impractical (or incompatible).
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patrickwilken
Senior Member
Germany
radiant-flux.net
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 Message 10 of 18
10 September 2013 at 4:53pm | IP Logged 
Iwwersetzerin wrote:

The way I see it is that the profession is changing. The less important texts are increasingly machine translated and post-edited by a human (post-editing machine translated documents would be my definition of a job from hell, but that's another topic).


Or you can be like me and work for months doing "copy-editing" with a translator whose translations are WORSE than Google Translate, and who gets paid 4x what you get paid. Don't ask...
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montmorency
Diglot
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United Kingdom
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 Message 11 of 18
11 September 2013 at 12:30am | IP Logged 
A thought came to me after the "learn to write" comment, and that was book
translations, by which I mean good quality literary, or at least literary-ish books.

I think few would be happy with a machine translation of a literary work (although I'm
aware of Iversen's use of google translate to produce semi-literal translations of some
texts, though probably not whole books, and not literature, as he says he doesn't like
it! :-) ).

Anyway, book translation (especially of literary books), is a fairly specialised field
within an already specialised field, and I suppose there will always be some work
available there for the right people.

The problem there is that publishers will only commission translations of books that
they think will sell, and unfortunately, many fine books may remain untranslated. And
the people with the right skills wouldn't have time to just do it for the love of it
"in their spare time". They probably just don't have that kind of "spare time".


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nicozerpa
Triglot
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Argentina
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 Message 12 of 18
11 September 2013 at 6:10pm | IP Logged 
Iwwersetzerin wrote:
Computers will only be capable of completely replacing humans once
we have real artificial intelligence and that's not likely going to happen any day
soon.


Exactly! Translation is basically an intellectual labour, a job where reasoning is the
key. A translator doesn't just replace a word with another, he or she needs to put the
sentences in the right context, to know the idiosyncrasies of the people who speaks the
two languages involved and adapt the text accordingly, understand ironies, take into
account small nuances...

Computers are good with automated processes, but not with reasoning activities.


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zerothinking
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Australia
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 Message 13 of 18
19 September 2013 at 3:03am | IP Logged 
Translation software is no where near the level of humans yet and I assure you it will not reach human level ability until it can understand what it is translating, and that will require true strong AI. When that day comes not just yours but most jobs could be replaced by AI.
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Medulin
Tetraglot
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Croatia
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 Message 14 of 18
19 September 2013 at 4:19am | IP Logged 
Arekkusu wrote:


A quick tip: if you plan on becoming a translator, learn how to write.

It can be extremely time-consuming in the case of Chinese or Japanese ;)
since (too) many learners rely on smartphone/PCs
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Arekkusu
Hexaglot
Senior Member
Canada
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Joined 3569 days ago

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Speaks: English, French*, GermanC1, Spanish, Japanese, Esperanto
Studies: Italian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Romanian, Estonian

 
 Message 15 of 18
19 September 2013 at 2:53pm | IP Logged 
Medulin wrote:
Arekkusu wrote:


A quick tip: if you plan on becoming a translator, learn how to write.

It can be extremely time-consuming in the case of Chinese or Japanese ;)
since (too) many learners rely on smartphone/PCs

I was referring to the ability to write properly-constructed sentences, not to write by hand. Besides, translators typically translate into their mother tongue.
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luke
Diglot
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United States
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 Message 16 of 18
20 September 2013 at 11:15pm | IP Logged 
1997 Deep Blue computer beats Chess Grand Master Garry Kasparov.
2011 Watson computer beats humans at Jeopardy.


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