Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Report From the FIT Congress -- Part I

Last week, I listed six sessions as highlights of the congress of the International Federation of Translators, which I attended last week in San Francisco. Here are summaries of the first three of these sessions. I will summarize the remaining three next week.

Maggey Oplinger "Hybrid Careers: Atypical Translation Skills in the Workplace"

When working in such hybrid professions, the translator does not simply render the source text accurately in the target language, but rather re-writes it to better fit the target culture and customs. This means there is no complete source text against which to proofread the translated text. Johnson Controls, where Ms. Oplinger works, has an information storage system in multiple languages where text is tagged, so that information can be retrieved independent of the language in which the source text was written. Many of the hybrid jobs described are in-house positions, although some tasks (e.g., reviewing/editing) are sometimes outsourced. When managing an atypical workflow in house, it is important to plan all facets of the project (e.g., linguistic difficulties likely to be encountered in the target market), to clearly manage the project, to include all involved parties (e.g., monolingual subject-matter experts) in the project team, to clearly define the workflow and to plan for production (e.g., printing, shipping) after the translation/transcreation phase of the project has been completed. Monolingual teams must frequently also be educated about the need for translation/transcreation work on a specific project.

Nataly Kelly "Translation Market Trends: What Freelancers Need to Know"

There is a growing market for outsourced (i.e., provided by freelancers rather than staff, not necessarily outside the U.S.) language services, but most of that growth is in multimedia localization and similar work, rather than traditional translation. The U.S. market is fragmented into many language service providers and buyers. The buyers may even include different departments within the same large company. Most of these use multi-language vendors (i.e., translation agencies), but over half the large buyers of translation services use freelancers directly. Ms. Kelly's employer, Common Sense Advisory, publishes annual pricing surveys. In the U.S., end clients pay agencies US$0.26-US$0.28 per source word for German to English translations. Other trends include movement towards transcreation (i.e., re-writing, rather than translating, the source text), crowdsourcing (i.e., non-professional bilingual volunteers providing translations), machine translation, faster turnaround times and globalization of products and markets. Ms. Kelly noted that the buyers of crowd-sourced translations are generally not the same as those buying traditional translation services and that machine translation is often used to disseminate information internally or to provide fast customer support, rather than to update marketing materials or similar text. An audience member also noted that agencies increasingly use automated project management systems, where the translator and computerized system also take on aspects of the project manager's traditional role.

Panel discussion "Creating a Lasting Partnership: Working with LSPs in the Age of Post-Editing"

The panelists were Kåre Lindahl of venga corporation, Michel Lopez of e2f translations and Uwe Muegge of CSOFT. All three agencies work in the technology sector, with e2f translations specializing in post-editing of English<->French machine translations. At venga corporation, the translation tools are built into an Agile software development environment. Agile development means that individual portions of the overall product are being translated as the project moves along, rather than having the entire help system translated at the end of the software development cycle. While this guarantees a steady workflow for the translator, this setup requires translators to work remotely on the agency's own system. However, agencies using such a setup do not always provide training on their own specific tools. Since in an Agile environment source text is still being developed, translators can -- and are expected to -- provide feedback on that text. Either an hourly rate or a combination of hourly and word rates was proposed to compensate translators for the extra time required to provide feedback on the source text. It seems to me that that hourly rate should also be paid for the time it takes a translator to learn the agency-specific tools/environment, if no training is provided. During the discussion period, I noted that remote work on the client's servers can cause problems if that server is located in a different time zone and crashes during that time zone's off hours, but during the translator's working hours. I have encountered that problem before and found there was nothing I could do except to wait for the client's IT department to get into the office the next morning (while I was asleep in the U.S.).

1 comment:

  1. Hi! I attended the congress myself and found many sessions very interesting and rewarding. I came across your post having Google-checked the correct spelling of Maggey Oplinger's name :). I liked her presentation as well. I will certainly return to your blog to read the summaries and other issues you write about. It seems I am finally tackling the jet lag after six days of foggy-headedness. I am a Finnish-English-Finnish translator living in Finland - I don't believe we met although we apparently sat in the same room listening :).


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