The Evolution of Modern Day Translation

February 18th, 2010
Technology has been inevitably remodeling the practice and concept of human translation in many aspects—so much so that machine translation has become an integral part of the professional translation process. Sure, human translation remains the best method of choice when it comes to providing topnotch translation services, but that's not to say that machine translation is completely useless. For instance, instead of leafing through thousands upon thousands of dictionary pages when looking for a certain word or phrase translation, you can now rely exclusively on a computer to find these words for you. Until a decade or so ago, professional translation agencies or freelance translation services are forced to work solely on unambiguous source texts with the restricted aid of dictionaries and resource materials. If those methods aren't enough, then specialists are summoned to fill in the research gaps and holes. In certain situations, translators get the opportunity to develop fluency with the content of their source texts, which helps them become experts in their own right is some fields as well. In the past, to-be-translated content was essentially viewed as having both a beginning and an end, which in turn makes meaning contextualization a lot easier to achieve. Nowadays, the fast-paced modern world is compelling translators to finish their work in briefer and shorter turnaround cycles; mixing speed alongside quality is the order of the day for contemporary translation work. Moreover, the technological revolution and globalization process have changed hand-in-hand the manner by which ideas and knowledge are conceived and conveyed at present. The leaps and bounds that the digital age has achieved in terms of advancements have generated a "screen generation" that has been replacing the use of printed materials—especially since virtual information can be effortlessly obtained and delivered through computer screens, which allows greater flexibility for processing in industries like the translation field. At the very least, the concept of the paperless office is fast becoming a reality in the translation business. Aside from the increasing tendency to utilize the digital platform for textual translations, a large part of the content translators produce from their everyday routines includes large translation projects that are both web-based and non-web-based. Such projects are typically undertaken with the assistance of computerized tools such as translation memory databases and automatic translation systems. As much as people disparage the quality and competency of machine translations, the dual use of both machine translation and human translation has helped the modern translation industry to become deadline-based as well as quality-based. The speediness that can be achieved by machine assistance needs to be seen in order to be believed; it's undoubtedly an advancement that revolutionized this particular trade forever.