The Future of Language Work: Business Perspectives

It’s not an everyday occurrence that translators and technology professionals come together and discuss the state of the language industry, but that’s exactly what happened last month in Santa Clara, CA. The event, The Future of Language Work: Enterprise, Technology, and Translation Professional Perspectives, was hosted by translation startup, Lilt, and featured two panelist discussions on topics ranging from language technology advancements to the effect of globalization on translation demand.

While the first panelist discussion focused on the past, present and future of translation technology, the second panelist discussion turned to look at how technology is affecting language work. The panel, moderated by Katie Botkin, Managing Editor of Multilingual Magazine, included panelists David Snider, Globalization Architect at LinkedIn, Anna Schlegel, Sr. Director of Globalization Programs and Information Strategy at NetApp, Jost Zetzsche, Localization Consultant and Writer at the International Writers’ Group and Max Troyer, Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator, Translation & Localization Management at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

Jost Zetzsche, well-known in the industry for writing about translation technology, gave his advice on how translators can keep up with the rapidly-changing technology. He noted that part of the problem with adopting machine translation (MT) as part of the translation workflow, is not only that many translators feel threatened, but also that MT is being used in a manner that doesn’t empower the translators. He went on to say that the first step is to recognize that MT and post-editing MT (PEMT) are not the same thing; MT is a technology and PEMT is a process.

On this same topic, Max Troyer, described how MIIS alumni suggested that focusing on technology and business skills would have been useful for preparing them for the workforce. MIIS recognized that the need for more knowledge around CAT tools and business skills was strong, so they created a translation and localization management program at MIIS.

Both Anna Schlegel and David Snider agreed that the impact technology has had on localization has been positive on helping localization budgets stretch further and get more content translated. Snider noted, “Technology reduces your cost.”

John DeNero, Chief Scientist and Co-founder at Lilt, wrapped up the night by reflecting on the significance of having the translation, localization and technology communities represented not only in the panelists, but in the audience as well. “If we just work on the technology and don’t bring the community with us then we’re ahead of our time and may not make a big impact.” adding, “We’re all in this together.”