Ever feel like the media is playing a game of telephone? Misunderstandings seem to be cropping up left and right. Let’s talk about the buzz around machine translation – what does its widespread use mean for us, the translators?
Debunking Illusion #1: Smooth Sailing with Machine Translation? Not So Fast!
Or imagine: Once you’ve mastered Trello, Calendly, and a CRM system, your sales job‘s a breeze now. But guess what? You’re now footing the bill for those fancy software licenses. And by the way, we’re thinking of cutting your pay by a third. Easy job, easy pay, right?
And, oh, your customer has just roughly drilled some holes in the materials, sparing you of the rough work, right? You just do the rest of the work, the highly precise assembly. The fine-tuned assembly tools you have are incompatible with the customer’s prep, you have to use tools borrowed from your client.
Never mind, they’ll deduct them from your pay, too.
Surreal stuff? It’s real, and it’s happening in the world of translations.
Someone forces you to use technology you didn’t mean to in a process that doesn’t feel effective. You are expected to fix errors you haven’t made and charge a fraction of your usual pricing.
Debunking Illusion #2: Are Translators Facing Extinction? Here’s the Scoop
True. False. Both. Back to facts:
Translators aren’t fading into oblivion. In fact, the global translation industry is raking in a whopping $26 billion annually (maybe $57 billion by another yardstick). Keeps growing.
And translators are idly waiting, hypnotizing their empty inboxes? Quite the opposite, their inboxes are brimming with job requests. However, there’s a catch: Many of these assignments frequently come with inadequate budgets and preparation.
When translators express discomfort about the mass use of machine translation, it’s not about depressed people watching their empty mailboxes as the whole world ceased to need them. Their mailboxes are being flooded with demand, but for inadequately budeted and unprofessionally prepared jobs.
Debunking Illusion #3: Translators don’t want to reflect the ease of their work in their rates!
False. While the translation industry is on the rise, translator rates are in search for their bottom. This can be attributed to the supposed “increased productivity” brought about by machines, or the misguided belief that searching for machine’s errors is a piece of cake. However, the truth is quite different. Those who take on such assignments have lower income than before machines “made their tasks easier.”
The situation of language professionals is not about raking in more with the same effort.
What the translation industry currently has to offer to many, is inconvenient work process for a compensation that’s far from thrilling.
Freelancers are the industry’s backbone.
They invest in their technological tools while being offered meager compensation in return.
My inbox? Constantly flooded. Requests for translation and revision arrive from all corners of the globe. Yet, decently paid jobs are rare.
At first, some of the incoming job offers reminded me of my job with a non-profit. Then the pricing just got somehow “historical.” But recently, we’re in the sphere of the absurd, with breathtaking 3 USD/hr.
Let’s talk about adopting new tech. If it means that highly educated and specialized pros need to slash their earnings to “stay competitive,” is that an “opportunity”?
I think not.