Automation anxiety and translators

by Pisana Ferrari – cApStAn Ambassador to the Global Village

Here is an interesting take on “automation anxiety” among translators. The author’s approach was to “crawl” content from forum postings and translator blogs in order to compile “a corpus of professional discourses”. He says that, despite the wealth of studies on the issue, most research focuses mainly on how technology affects translation processes and products, with little emphasis on how translators perceive the economic consequences of technology.

The content analysed was published by 50 translators, from 22 different countries, 78% of whom had at least 10 years of experience. 90% of the posts were published from 2010 onwards. Key words searched were “rate” and “machine translation” (MT). The views of translators were quite nuanced but two key findings are reported. On the topic of rates, pressure from clients and agencies was a prominent issue-seen as a failure to value translators’ expertise. Most criticism of MT concerned not so much a fear of being outperformed by MT but rather its current limitations and the business practices that surround its use.

The author concludes that in the discussion on translators’ outlook, technology cannot be decoupled from its market reverberations and economic effects. A very interesting read.

Lucas Nunes Vieira (2018) 

Automation anxiety and translators, Translation Studies                                                                       

DOI: 10.1080/14781700.2018.1543613   


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