Automation changes the field of translation

Copyright: Minna Surakka

Translation technology is not a threat to translators, although translating as a profession has become more digitalized and automated. A greater threat to translators is the automation of the process of translating and localizing: many translators become frustrated, as their work gets less challenging, less creative and more poorly paid. Yet translators are highly skilled professionals with an academic education. Does translation have an image problem?

The development of electronic tools for translators is a challenge to translators, but also to translator training institutes that aim to give adequate and up-to-date training to their students and continuation education for professional translators. Translation technology has been the focus of both the teaching and research of Frank Austermühl, professor of translation studies and American studies at the University of Mainz in Germersheim. The Germersheim faculty is one of the largest institutions for translator training in the world. Dr. Austermühl visited Finland as the keynote speaker of the Translation Technology Event organised by the Savonlinna Institute for Regional Development and Research, University of Joensuu.


How important is it for future translators to know how to use electronic tools?
Also professional translators need new training
The demand for new tools comes from the clients


The world of translation, the so called GILT industry - Globalization, Internationalization, Localization, and Translation - is a huge market that consists of four layers. On the top of the hierarchy are the clients. On the second layer are the Multilanguage vendors (MLV), large, internationally operating translation agencies that offer translations in various language combinations. On the third layer are the single language vendors (SLV), translation agencies based on one country and offering translations into one language. Individual translators are on the bottom of the hierarchy, and the pressure from the clients increases on the way down.

Frank Austermühl. Copyright: Minna Surakka
Should translators, academia and the GILT industry work together?


Translation has become an entry level job, regrets Austermühl. People move to better paid jobs or get promoted, and are happy to do so. The escape of trained professional translators is a risk to the quality of translations. Interpreters on the other hand are still well paid and highly valued professionals, even though they usually have the same education and same skills as translators.


Does translation have an image problem?
The dangers of automation
The future of translation