Month: July 2018

Why People Leave the Language Industry

Why People Leave the Language Industry

Working in a language service provider (LSP) can be an exciting and challenging place to be: managing complex projects, figuring out best workflows, delivering to demanding deadlines, working with teams of people from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds… But what motivates people who have studied languages and translation to leave behind a career in the language industry? And where are they now?

Slator conducted a number of interviews and spoke to individuals who had all worked for 3+ years in a sales or operational capacity within a language service provider in either France or the UK. All had studied languages and / or translation to degree or post-grad level.

Respondents revealed that they were originally attracted to the language industry for a variety of reasons, including the appeal of a “multicultural environment” coupled with a “passion for languages”, “the ability to be able to communicate without borders”, having the opportunity to use languages on a daily basis and “learning more about…the art of translation and culture surrounding the language.”

The aspects of their roles that they enjoyed most ranged from “the camaraderie and internationalism” to “client side, travel and coaching people” and the fact that “it was always busy and fast-paced which kept me on my toes.”

International Environment

Asked what they liked about the companies (LSPs) they worked in, one respondent identified “the feel you were doing something important for large clients” and another said that she had worked in “a small company and became friends with colleagues”. Again, “international environment” and “international focus with different office locations” featured prominently.

On the benefits of the industry as a whole, one respondent said she “learned a lot about finance and legal, practicing at least two languages daily”. Innovation and technology also contributed to the appeal: “it is forever evolving and has an exciting future ahead,” one said, while another thought that “interesting technology advances” were a distinct positive.

So, despite the lure of an international and evolving market, where you can meet people and travel, what factors are leading individuals to leave the industry in favor of alternative careers? And what opportunities are they seeking out?

Why People Leave

We asked respondents to describe their reasons for leaving the language industry in their own words. One person, who worked for six years in project management, said that it was “impossible to progress, [there was] no reward for going the extra mile, [and] no human contact”.

Another, who spent three years in the industry in a project management role echoed this sentiment, saying that “I found I’d reached a plateau, both in terms of pay and also in terms of what my job entailed (it became quite samey)”. She went on to say “I figured my skills could be transferred into another sector which could offer more variety and options for the future”.

60% of respondents cited lack of progression for the primary reason for leaving.

One individual saw few differentiating factors between LSPs saying “I felt that most LSPs were much of the same and there was little difference between being a project manager at any of them. I decided to leave to travel for a few months and didn’t feel like I wanted to return to the same career.” Yet another thought that “the progression was too slow. Individuals were being overloaded and therefore project standards were slipping.” One person identified a culture of blame in the company he left behind to pursue a teaching career.

Only one respondent gave reasons that were uniquely “pull factors” and said that she had left “to pursue other avenues in a different field and focus on the transferable skills gained during my time at the various LSPs, notably, leadership and coaching” after 13 years in the industry.

When pressed, 60% of respondents cited lack of progression for the primary reason for leaving, with comments including “impossible to progress”, no “options for career progression” and “being overlooked for promotion”.

Stepping Stone to Another Career

A few interview questions centered on the respondents’ experience of pursuing a new career – how easy did they find it to secure a new role and how had working the language industry prepared them for a new line of work.

Most (80%) felt that the skills they had acquired were relevant to other industries. And the respondents had moved into a variety of roles and industries, from HR and Recruitment to Wine Buying, Events Coordination for a cloud networking company, Supply / Logistics, Marketing and Teaching.

Most found it “quick”, “easy” or “relatively easy” to find a new role, suggesting that language industry leavers are in high demand across a wide range of industries.

Most (80%) do not regret the decision to leave, while 20% are unsure (perhaps because it is still early days), but none are openly dissatisfied with their choice to pursue a different career. Similarly, none could foresee returning to the industry out of choice, e.g. “I hope it does not happen, but if it does, it will be for a short time as I am not willing to stay in this industry.”

The exception to this seemed to be the possibility of returning in the capacity of a freelance linguist: “The flexibility of being a freelance translator might tempt me at some point in the future. (I still do some freelance translating on the side of my current job)” and “If there was a feasible option of getting into interpreting I’d also be tempted.”

What Can We Do Better?

In a tick box question, respondents selected the factors that would have led them to stay in the language industry. A more interesting role and better long-term career opportunities topped the list, with more money, and better progression, management and work-life balance also emerging as possible difference-makers.

Participants were also asked what advice and recommendations they would have for employers in the language industry through questions such as “If you could change one thing about the language industry what would it be?” and “What, if anything, could your company could have done differently that would have encouraged you to stay in the language industry?”

Of the respondents who said that there was something their company could have done to retain them (60%), all said it would have involved better career developments or pay.

Things that people hoped to change about the industry at large included:

  • “Better salaries compared to Project Managers in other industries”;
  • “Make its employees feel more valued. The turnover was very high as extra duties were heaped on with no reward”;
  • “Make people more aware of how much work is behind a simple translated document, have respect for others’ job/work”;
  • “More honesty around quality assurance”

As the industry matures with a wider breadth of job roles and shows healthy levels of employment globally, companies must pay attention not to lose key talent to competing industries. Some might argue that LSPs are necessarily bottom heavy and that attrition among the more junior levels of project managers and sales employees is to be expected as it is not possible for everyone to progress. But turnover of staff carries a huge cost – not least for training, recruitment and extra overtime – one that can be driven down by heeding advice and implementing good people management strategies.

Reference: http://bit.ly/2LPiFhS

Court Rules That Free MT Isn’t Enough for Legal Scenarios

Court Rules That Free MT Isn’t Enough for Legal Scenarios

In recent months, we have increasingly heard from enterprise localization groups that their executives are pushing for the adoption of neural machine translation (NMT), driven largely by a very successful public relations campaign from Google that has touted the very real improvements in NMT over the past two years. Unfortunately, some business leaders have seen media coverage and concluded that they no longer need language professionals and can simply replace translators with the “magic” of AI.

Given the way many people have come to treat Google Translate and its competitors as authorities on all matters linguistic, it was really only a matter of time before free, online MT played a role in a court case. Recently, an English-speaking police officer in Kansas City used Google Translate to converse with a Spanish-speaking individual and obtain consent to search his car. In the course of the officer’s search he discovered a large quantity of illegal narcotics. It seemed an open-and-shut case: he had permission to search the vehicle and found the drugs.

But a judge threw out the case: Google Translate rendered the officer’s “Can I search the car?” in Spanish as “¿Puedo buscar el auto?,” which is more along the lines of “Can I look for the car?” The defendant successfully argued that he gave permission only for the officer to look for the car, not look in it. The court ruled that the Google Translate output was not sufficient for consent and tossed the case.

Although legal experts argue that this particular case is unlikely to change things much – police can take additional steps to clarify consent – it points to the danger that comes from relying on MT uncritically and should serve as a caution against uncritical MT boosterism. It won’t slow down the adoption of MT – the economic requirements it fulfills are too compelling – but cases like these should provide a wake-up call for naïve adoption in cases where accuracy matters. NMT may be great when you are willing to ask questions and clarify responses, but you cannot rely upon it for cases where the results can affect life, liberty, or liability… or your bottom line.

The lesson here is not that MT is bad. After all, humans can make similar mistakes. Consider the case of Willie Ramirez, which resulted in a US$71 million judgment against a hospital, centered around a misunderstanding of the Spanish word “intoxicado” – which means “poisoned” rather than “intoxicated” – that left a young baseball star with permanent disability.

The difference is that humans respond to context and can take steps to clarify, while MT by itself does not. It provides a best machine guess at a translation, but takes no responsibility when things go wrong. Google specifically states that it does not provide any sort of warranty that its services will be accurate or usable, and indeed the company could not do so given the way its technology functions. By contrast, a human interpreter who would be liable for getting something wrong will have a strong incentive to make sure that the details are correct. An expert linguist will know what matters in a given context and ensure that the communication reflects it. MT doesn’t care.

Contrary to fears that MT will replace human translators, CSA Research’s examination of the issue shows that MT can augment human translators, making them more efficient and better able to focus on the important details.

Our research shows LSPs that MT accelerates the growth of LSPs that adopt it. LSPs and enterprises alike need to understand the technology, how to work with it, where it applies, and how best to deploy it. Translation buyers need a realistic assessment of what it can and cannot do for them and should work closely with providers to achieve their goals. Like any technology, MT is a tool, and tools used incorrectly can harm their users and those around them, but when applied properly, technology tools deliver real benefits. Just don’t expect NMT to provide you with legal or medical advice and always involve professional linguists when accuracy and message matter.

Reference: http://bit.ly/2mK8ywQ

The Story of WordPress is the Story of Localization

The Story of WordPress is the Story of Localization

Ciklopea published an interview with  Emanuel Blagonić to share his experiences and views on WordPress web development and website localization solutions.

Would you please introduce yourself?

My name is Emanuel Blagonić. I like to say that I am, first and foremost, a father. I am a designer, I design user interfaces and work with small and big companies from Croatia and worldwide. I first encountered WordPress more than 12 years ago when the CMS was very different from what it is now. I have been introducing the benefits of WordPress to the people ever since, which has taken a form of active participation in the Croatian and global WordPress communities over the past few years.

What is the importance of localization in your opinion?

The story of WordPress is the story of localization. The first major success occurred in Japan which was home to the strongest localization community of the world in those days (15 years ago). Localization is the key to success if we want to make something more available to worldwide audiences. The WordPress mission is to democratise publishing, and to do that we need to make the software available to everyone – regardless of their proficiency in foreign languages – and this is where localization is coming to the fore.

What are your experiences with WordPress localization (challenges, solutions, etc.)?

There are two types of localization. One type includes WordPress software localization. WordPress relies on its – at times almost fanatical – worldwide community in that respect. WordPress is actively translated at home, at work, and at the events known as Contributor Days, where many people working in different teams meet to contribute to the WordPress project. More than 500 people attended the Contributor Day recently held in Belgrade as part of the WordCamp Europe conference (currently the largest WordPress conference in the world), who actively contributed to the community throughout the day. One type of contribution is the localization of main software, plugins, themes and more.

Content localization is the second part of the localization story. Content localization is important in terms of target audiences of a specific website. It is important to localize your website for your target audiences to make your content, message or your products and services available to as many people as possible.

What are your experiences with the localization on other CMS platforms?

I don’t really have experience with other CMS platforms so I can’t claim whether localization is implemented better or worse. The basic problem of WordPress – if that can be seen as a problem at all – is that, unlike some other CMS platforms, localization is not an integral part of its installation, but it needs to be “upgraded” through plugins (such as WPML). Although that’s not really an issue, I believe localization could be solved better under WordPress. However, the facts that 30 % of all the world’s websites are powered by WordPress (its share among the CMS platforms has long been larger than 50 %) and that it is the most popular CMS of them all makes the case for WordPress content localization being an important part of your online strategy.

Is localization process affected by website complexity?

It surely is. You can opt for different approaches to localization based on the website “size”, i.e. its complexity. The users most frequently choose WPML as the most professional WordPress localization plugin, and those who do not want to pay for it (WPML is a premium plugin) opt for other solutions.

As always, every solution has its pros and cons, and with very complex websites it is perhaps best to consider a customized solution with each language being a separate WordPress (multisite) installation where content connection will be solved with custom software code.

WPML is the genuine commercial solution that provides a wide range of possibilities to translation agencies who use specific tools, making the localization process faster and smoother.

Is localization something to be considered before or after the development?

Definitely before. Although it is possible to localize a website after it has been published, I believe that having an initial plan of what needs to be done today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow always pays off. If we have a vision for the next two or three years, in addition to being able to make an easier prediction on the type of content that we need, we will also have a better insight into the localization requirements. Based on that, you will be able to choose a better solution, of course, in collaboration with your web developers.

Why is it important to choose a professional LSP for website localization?

As always, having professional and reliable partners is important. Although we tend to believe that if we can understand and speak, say, English, we can also translate content, we should be aware that a self-service translation (mostly) does not meet the expectations of our audiences on the target markets. If you are targeting British, German, Italian, French, Russian or any other market for that matter, it is important to have a professional translation because your website in most cases serves as your reflection and the place of first contact with your potential clients. Of course, this is something that leaves an impression, so it is important to make the impression you want.

Reference: http://bit.ly/2LAQkvU

The Translation Industry’s Top-Earning Career Paths

The Translation Industry’s Top-Earning Career Paths

Adaptive’s recruiters are often asked by candidates how they can build their careers to raise their market value and earnings. Here we share our map of the paths which lead to some of the top-paying roles in the global language services industry.

First things first – you don’t have to be a salesperson to make big bucks.

Often when Adaptive is approached by candidates looking to up their earnings in the language services industry, there’s an expectation that only the high-flying BDMs and C-suite management are making top money.

After all, BDMs are on commission plans and signing big customer deals can be very lucrative. And it’s true – top BDMs and sales managers can be making as much as anyone on this list.

But salespeople are not the only ones with strong pay packages in the language industry.

In fact, we’ve left sales out of our list below to offer alternate options to translation and localization industry professionals looking to build their careers.

So here we go – four routes to top-paying roles if cold calling isn’t your thing:

1. Business Unit Leadership

e.g. VP Life Sciences, VP Engineering

Broad-ranging VP titles usually signify a role that is a mix of client relations, operations and specific expertise in a particular area.

Professionals in these positions are in charge of ‘business units’ which operate like mini-companies within the larger organization, focused on one specific area – such as services to the Life Sciences market or engineering services.

This means the VP’s responsibility is wide, often covering a separate profit and loss account for their unit. VPs leading these areas can come from a variety of backgrounds, but have often worked their way up an internal hierarchy where their increasing experience makes them more and more valuable.

They head up hiring, account management and ensure that their company’s service offering continues to be competitive and evolve with the market.

Career Entry Point: Project Manager, Account Manager, BDM

Key Skill: ability to combine rounded business skills with deep subject-matter expertise

Average Salary Range: $100,000 – $160,000 + bonus

2. Internal Technology Management

e.g. CTO, VP of Technology

At the highest level, technology managers need to be more than just experts in localization workflows, and lead areas such as networking, security, compliance, training, technology change management, data recovery and more.

Their focus is on the role technology plays in helping the company reach strategic goals and impacting overall P&L.

Localization career paths typically go from specialist to generalist with candidates building a base in CAT tools, internal and client workflows and then rounding out generalist IT competencies to continue progressing.

Career Entry Point: CAT Tools Specialist, Localization Technology Manager, Localization Engineer

Average Salary Range: $120,000 – $180,000 + bonus

Key skill: ability to visualize and implement technology changes which make high-value improvements to the global organization

3. Operations & General Management

e.g. VP Operations, General Manager

A great goal for Project Managers!

Many of the industry’s top-paid professionals in operations (production) leadership started ‘in the trenches’ as PMs. Growth in this career channel comes from deep first-hand knowledge of internal workflows, aptitude for working directly with key customers and versatile operational skills – organization, planning, financial management and personnel leadership.

As operations candidates move up the career ladder, they broaden their generalist business skills and combine them with their expert knowledge of localization processes to eventually step up and take overall responsibility.

Career Entry Point: Project Manager, QA Manager

Salary range: $120,000 – $150,000 + bonus

Key skill: ability to design and maintain efficient teams and workflows to deliver reliably and profitably for customers

4. Client Solutions Development

e.g. VP Client Solutions, Global Solutions Manager

A specialist team within most LSPs, solutions professionals focus on bridging the gap between sales, production and IT.

Their focus is building creative solutions for prospective and existing customers, which involves customizing, integrating and potentially selecting new tools to bring together clients’ existing technology systems and those used by the LSP.

Many client solutions experts get their start in engineering and are well versed in CAT tools, but also work to develop strong client relationship skills throughout their careers. Often professionals in this space work on the client side for at least a few years, building inside knowledge from the buyer perspective.

At the top of the tree, global managers for solutions teams build some of the most advanced workflows in commercial localization.

Career Entry Point: Localization Engineer, CAT Tools Specialist, Project Manager, Account Manager

Salary range: $130,000 – $150,000 + bonus

Key skill: ability to think creatively to create unique technology-based workflow solutions

* * *

Adaptive Globalization recruits within the translation, localization and language technology sectors from entry-level to VP+.

We love to chat with translation industry professionals about how they can make the right career moves to achieve their goals. Drop me a line at ray.green@adaptiveglobalization.com

You can check out Adaptive Globalization’s full list of vacancies for PMs, Account Managers, Loc Engineers, BDMs and more in our job listings here

Reference: http://bit.ly/2LAenLc

Creative Destruction in the Localization Industry

Creative Destruction in the Localization Industry

Excerpts from an article with the same title, written by Ameesh Randeri in Multilingual Magazine.  Ameesh Randeri is part of the localization solutions department at Autodesk and manages the vendor and linguistic quality management functions. He has over 12 years of experience in the localization industry, having worked on both the buyer and seller sides.

Te concept of creative destruction was derived from the works of Karl Marx by economist Joseph Schumpeter. Schumpeter elaborated on the concept in his 1942 book Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy, where he described creative destruction as the “process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one.

What began as a concept of economics started being used broadly across the spectrum to describe breakthrough innovation that requires invention and ingenuity — as well as breaking apart or destroying the previous order. To look for examples of creative destruction, just look around you. Artificial intelligence, machine learning and automation are creating massive efficiency gains and productivity increases, but they are also causing millions to lose jobs. Uber and other ride hailing apps worldwide are revolutionizing transport, but many traditional taxi companies are suffering.

Te process of creative destruction and innovation is accelerating over time. To understand this, we can look at the Schumpeterian (Kondratieff) waves of technological innovation. We are currently in the fifth wave of innovation ushered in by digital networks, the software industry and new media.

Te effects of the digital revolution can be felt across the spectrum. Te localization industry is no exception and is undergoing fast-paced digital disruption. There is a confluence of technology in localization tools and processes that are ushering in major changes.

The localization industry: Drawing parallels from the Industrial Revolution

All of us are familiar with the Industrial Revolution. It commenced in the second half of the 18th century and went on until the mid-19th century. As a result of the Industrial Revolution, we witnessed a transition from hand production methods to machine-based methods and factories that facilitated mass production. It ushered in innovation and urbanization. It was creative destruction at its best. Looking back at the Industrial Revolution, we see that there were inflection points, following which there were massive surges and changes in the industry.

Translation has historically been a human and manual task. A translator looks at the source text and translates it while keeping in mind grammar, style, terminology and several other factors. Te translation throughput is limited by a human’s productivity, which severely
limits the volume of translation and time required. In 1764, James Hargreaves invented the spinning jenny, a machine that enabled an individual to produce multiple spools of
threads simultaneously. Inventor Samuel Compton innovated further and came up with the spinning mule, further improving the process. Next was the mechanization of cloth weaving through the power loom, invented by Edmund Cartwright. These innovators and their inventions completely transformed the textile industry.

For the localization industry, a similar innovation is machine translation (MT). Tough research into MT had been going on for many years, it went mainstream post-2005. Rule-based and statistical MT engines were created, which resulted in drastic productivity increases. However, the quality was nowhere near what a human could produce and hence the MT engines became a supplemental technology, aiding humans and helping them increase productivity.

There was a 30%-60% productivity gain based on the language and engine that was used. There was fear that translators’ roles would diminish. But rather than diminish, their role evolved into post-editing.

The real breakthrough came in 2016 when Google and Microsoft went public with their neural machine translation (NMT) engines. Te quality produced by NMT is not yet flawless, but it seems to be very close to human translation. It can also reproduce some of the finer
nuances of writing style and creativity that were lacking in the rule-based and statistical machine translation engines. NMT is a big step forward in reducing the human footprint in the translation process. It is without a doubt an inflection point and while not perfect yet, it
has the same disruptive potential as the spinning jenny and the power loom. Sharp productivity increases, lower prices and since a machine is behind it, the volumes that can be managed are endless. And hence it renews concerns about whether translators will be needed. It is to the translation industry what the spinning jenny was to textiles, where several manual workers were
replaced by machines.

What history teaches us though is that although there is a loss of jobs based on the existing task or technology, there are newer ones created to support the newer task or technology.

In the steel industry, two inventors charted a new course: Abraham Darby, who created a cheaper, easier method to produce cast iron, using a coke-fueled furnace and Henry Bessemer, who invented the Bessemer process, the first inexpensive process for mass-producing steel. The Bessemer process revolutionized steel manufacturing by decreasing its cost, from £40 per long ton to £6–7 per long ton. Besides the
reduction in cost, there were major increases in speed and the need for labor decreased sharply.

The localization industry is seeing the creation of its own Bessemer process, called continuous localization. Simply explained, it is a fully-connected and automated process where the content creators and developers create source material that is passed for translation in continuous, small chunks. The translated content is continually merged back, facilitating continuous deployment and release. It is an extension of the agile approach and it can be demonstrated with the example of mobile applications where latest updates are continually pushed through to our phones in multiple languages. To facilitate continuous localization, vendor platforms or computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools need to be able to connect to client systems or clients need to provide CAT tool-like interfaces for vendors and their resources to use. The process would flow seamlessly from the developer or content creator creating content to the post-editor doing edits to the machine translated content. The Bessemer process in the steel industry paved the way for large-scale continuous and efficient steel production. Similarly, continuous localization has the potential to pave the way for large-scale continuous and efficient localization enabling companies to localize more, into more languages at lower prices.

There were many other disruptive technologies and processes that led to the Industrial Revolution. For the localization industry as well, there are several other tools and process improvements in play.

Audiovisual localization and interpretation: This is a theme that began evolving in recent years. Players like Microsoft-Skype and Google have made improvements in the text-to-speech, speech-to-text arena. The text to speech has become more human-like though it isn’t there yet. Speech-to-text has improved significantly as well, with the output quality going up and errors reducing. Interpretation is the other area where we see automated solutions springing up. Google’s new headphones are one example of automated interpretation solutions.

Automated terminology extraction: This is one that hasn’t garnered as much attention and focus. While there is consensus that terminology is an important aspect of localization quality, it always seems to be relegated to a lower tier from a technological advancement standpoint. There are several interesting commercial as well as open source solutions that have greatly improved terminology extraction and reduced the false positives. This area could potentially be served by artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions in the future.

Automated quality assurance (QA) checks: QA checks can be categorized into two main areas – functional and linguistic. In terms of functional QA, automations have been around for several years and have vastly improved over time. There is already exploration on applying machine learning and artificial intelligence to functional automations to predict bugs, to create scripts that are self-healing and so on. Linguistic QA on the other hand has seen some automation primarily in the areas of spelling and terminology checks. However, the automation is limited in what it can achieve and does not replace the need for human checks or audits. This is an area that could benefit hugely from artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Local language support using chatbots: Chatbots are fast becoming the first level of customer support for most companies. Most chatbots are still in English. However, we are starting to see chatbots in local languages powered by machine translation engines in the background thus enabling local language support for international customers.

Data (big or small): While data is not a tool, technology or process by itself, it is important to call it out. Data is central to a lot of the technologies and processes mentioned above. Without a good corpus, there is no machine translation. For automated terminology extraction and automated QA checks, the challenge is to have a big enough corpus of data making it possible to train the machine. In addition, metadata becomes critical. Today metadata is important to provide translators with additional contextual information, to ensure higher quality output. In future, metadata will provide the same information to machines – to a machine translation system, to an automated QA check and so on. This highlights the importance of data!

The evolution in localization is nothing but the forces of creative destruction. Each new process/technology is destructing an old way of operating and creating a new way forward. It also means that old jobs are being made redundant while new ones are being created.

How far is this future? Well, the entire process is extremely resource and technology intensive. Many companies will require a lot of time to adopt these practices. This provides the perfect opportunity for sellers to spruce up their offering and provide an automated digital localization solution. Companies with access to abundant resources or funding should be able to achieve this sooner. This is also why a pan-industry open source platform may accelerate this transformation.

Mastering the art of Transcreation

Mastering the art of Transcreation

Former British beauty queen, glamour model and celebrity Danielle Lloyd wanted a classy tattoo. Aside from the fact that classy tattoo is an oxymoron of the first order, her head-on collision with Latin is an object lesson in the importance of good translation. Her shoulder was supposed to read “To diminish me will only make me stronger.” It actually translates as “As who am I wearing away for myself, I only set (it) down for/on myself, strong man (that I am).”

Lloyd is far from alone in having nonsense inked into her skin. Another example that did the rounds on social media is the unfortunate woman who wanted to write, “I love [name of boyfriend],” down her spine in Hebrew, but ended up with, “Babylon is the world’s leading dictionary and translation software,” instead.

As famed oilwell firefighter Red Adair is credited with saying, if you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait till you hire an amateur. Yet, allegedly, many leading brands do go for the cheap – or perhaps, more accurately, the unthinking – option when it comes to translation.

Good translation doesn’t just mean faithful or accurate transcription from one language to another. If it did, Coca Cola in China would be known as, “Mare stuffed with wax,” or “Bite the wax tadpole,” which is what the Chinese characters that together make the sound ‘Coca Cola’ mean depending on the dialect (Chinese characters have both a sound and a meaning). Instead it has a different name pronounced “Kokou-Kolay”, which means, “A pleasure in the mouth.” Experts in the field refer to this highly successful strategy as transcreation rather than mere translation, or intelligent localisation.

UK-based localisation agency Conversis CEO and managing director Gary Muddyman says, “Translation is just one element of global brand management. A lot of time is invested coming up with brands and communications pieces for all global brands, in terms of visuals and graphics, but also the words. All that hard work is lost if you then do a poor translation job.

People tend to think of translation as very simple conversion; you take a load of words and you put the appropriate words for that language into a sentence and it works out. It isn’t and it doesn’t. It’s much more complicated than that, particularly when you’re talking about external communications and specifically marketing and brand pieces.

“It’s as much about look and feel as cultural adaptation. Of course, there will also be legal and regulatory differences from country to country. There will be market norms that are different from country to country, distribution differences and so on. All of that would come into localisation. Translation is purely and simply the conversion of the words. Yes, it is important to brands, but only as part of a basket of considerations that you need to make.”

Muddyman was head of corporate development at HSBC and was involved in the world’s local bank brand initiative. “After nearly 500 man hours of work in coming up with the concept, nobody mentioned translation once,” he sighs. “That’s why I’m in the translation industry. I was the person who had to catch the ball, to try to work through that particular challenge and realise I didn’t even know where to start.”

Thankfully times have changed and some companies have developed a more thoughtful and enlightened approached to adapt their messaging to the panoply of international languages. Nick Parker, strategy partner at London-based brand language agency the Writer, believes there is growing recognition of the subliminal benefits of communicating like a native speaker. “Even the effort put in to translating your message appropriately is important – it says to your customers that you’ve gone to the trouble of getting it right, which increases the strength of your relationship, Customers like and trust brands more that make the effort even if they make mistakes along the way,” he says.

Parker adds, “Look at Google. All its terms and conditions are archived so you can see how its language and tone has changed over time. It has got friendlier as time has gone on, the information is simpler and clearer, and it sounds more Google now. That rarely happens naturally. It usually is the result of a lot of work.” And investment.

Google was cited as an example by several experts in the field and all agree that it takes time and a whole lot of money to do it right. Language and transcreation agency thebigword’s chief commercial officer Josh Gould says, “Google is a multi- billion dollar company trading across a number of markets but with the same approachable, conversational tone in all. It does more training than any other company I’ve ever met. It really invests in its people and its suppliers people so that linguists speaking or writing as Google are well trained, aligned and motivated. It works.”

All those who praised Google noted that it is a tough gig with incredibly high standards. “They tell [recruits] it is Harvard. Not the Harvard of the business world, but Harvard period. The majority who enter fail,” notes a well-placed source. “It’s rigorous all right.”
This alludes to the central and somewhat thorny issue of control. Some characterise Google as an uber-controlling organisation that delivers consistency of brand experience through strict discipline. Others believe its investment of time and money in staff empowers them – liberates them – to deliver consistency by living the brand values.

Whichever the case, the spectrum of control is a pertinent consideration. “We organised a summit for the all the brand language heads,” says Parker. “And while people from BT and PWC were talking about detailed guidelines, policies and process, the guy from Innocent was explaining how he spent four months looking for a Norwegian writer whose style and tone fitted with the brand’s ethos.”

Control versus empowerment is never going to be easy to answer, or even possible given the vagaries of business and the nature of the organisation for whom one works. Both strive for consistency in delivery, which is what every brand custodian wants, but any marketer worth his or her salt also wants the brand to be meaningful to its audience, and that requires a much greater degree of flexibility.

McDonald’s has invested billions in installing its strapline, “I’m lovin’ it,” in the global consciousness and for such a brand you’d expect consistency to be king, queen and all the courtiers and for that particular phrase to be used exactly as is around the world. However, that would be a mistake in China as love is a serious word. Traditionally the word is never said aloud. Even today lovers use, “I like you” to communicate great affection without actually saying love, according to global transcreation agency Mother Tongue’s CEO Guy Gilpin’s marvelous volume ‘The Little Book of Transcreation.’ McDonald’s accepted the need to adapt and opted instead for, “I just like (it),” which is more normal, more everyday vocabulary, easier on Chinese ears and retains the youthful, confident street vibe of the English original.

There are many examples where constancy of global messaging or positioning would have been a mistake. A campaign by Intel in Brazil demonstrates the point. The English slogan, “Sponsors of Tomorrow,” translated directly in Portuguese would imply that the brand doesn’t yet deliver on its promises. “In love with tomorrow,” stays true to the values expressed in the rational original English line, but importantly is much more in keeping with a Brazilian population falling more and more in love with the latest high tech products.

When Motorola launched its Q phone in Canada it hadn’t foreseen the hilarity with which its marketing messaging would be received by French speakers. ‘Q’ sounds much like ‘cul’ – that is ass – in French. Lines like, “L’intelligence renouvelee” and “Si c’est important pour vous, c’est important pour votre Q,” in common parlance became, “My ass. Renewed intelligence,” and, “If it’s important to you, it’s important to your ass.” Pepsi’s unwitting claim to rejuvenate the dead went down in the annals of advertising history as how not to pull off a global campaign. “Come alive with Pepsi!” actually means “Pepsi. Bring your ancestors back from the dead” in Chinese.

Haribo is an institution in its home market, Germany, and its strapline, “Haribo macht Kinder froh, und Erwachsene ebenso,” works perfectly there. Literally translated it becomes the stilted, dry and decidedly unmotivating, “Haribo makes kids happy, and adults too.” It doesn’t even rhyme, damn it. How much more appropriate for the brand is the reimagined UK version? “Kids and grown-ups love it so, the happy world of Haribo.”

Translating jingles can be a nightmare, as Gillette found. The German translation of, “The best a man can get,” comes out as, “For the best inside a man,” which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense given that facial hair is on the outside, not the inside of a man. In addition, the line was too short for the music and so had to be dragged out for longer than sounds natural. And it doesn’t even rhyme with Gillette. The tortured and tortuous result: “Fur das Be-e-e-est-e-e im Ma-a-an” became a national laughing stock.

This is where transcreation comes into its own. Transcreation is the process of adapting the messaging to resonate meaningfully with the local target audience while staying true to the meaning of the original and maintaining its intent, style, tone and context. As Gilpin puts it, “Transcreation allows brands to walk the fine line that ensures they are both fresh and relevant locally, and at the same time consistent globally.”

BMW has used the tagline, “Freude am Fahren” (Pleasure in driving) since 1969 in Germany. “Would that be as effective as ‘The Ultimate Driving Machine’? Same idea, different words – that’s what transcreation is all about,” Gilpin says. Maintaining a consistent tone of voice across your communications across different languages and regions is a challenge as Parker points out. “Your brand may have adopted a friendly, approachable tone of voice, so you have to look at what are the indicators of friendliness in the particular language you are translating into. Charming has a very specific feel in English; how do you work out what is charming in Swiss German? And what if it charming in Swiss German turns out to be too idiosyncratic for your brand positioning?” he says. “There are no easy answers – it takes experience, research and creativity.”

Transcreation is about far more than words. Colours mean different things to different people. In the western world yellow is associated with cowardice, whereas in Japan it signifies courage. White is for weddings in the west and funerals in Asia. Red symbolises purity in India and passion in Europe. Lifestyle imagery must be sensitive to the audience’s experience, which is easy to observe and difficult to execute.

And don’t think going down the visual only route is a get out of jail free card. A major pharmaceutical company decided to do the visual only treatment for the international launch of a new product using pictures to explain the benefit. On the left, the ill patient; middle picture of patient taking medicine and the final shot on the right showing him recovered. The problem with that was potential customers in the United Arab Emirates read right to left.

Anomalous though it is, it may be necessary for your brand to look and sound different, and say different things to different people, in order to maintain brand consistency. “There’s a fine line between brand dilution and true localisation,” says Gould. “But without localisation you are potentially harming your business and your brand, from credibility to sales – and you may never know by how much.”

Reference: https://bit.ly/2Krw9jm

Nimdzi Language Technology Atlas

Nimdzi Language Technology Atlas

For this first version, Nimdzi has mapped over 400 different tools, and the list is growing quickly. The Atlas consists of an infographic accompanied by a curated spreadsheet with software listings for various translation and interpreting needs.

As the language industry becomes more technical and complex, there is a growing need for easy-to-understand materials explaining available tech options. The Nimdzi Language Technology Atlas provides a useful view into the relevant technologies available today.

Software users can quickly find alternatives for their current tools and evaluate market saturation in each segment at a glance. Software developers can identify competition and find opportunities in the market with underserved areas.

Reference: https://bit.ly/2ticEyT

Is There a Future in Freelance Translation? Let’s Talk About It!

Is There a Future in Freelance Translation? Let’s Talk About It!

While the demand for translation services is at a record high, many freelancers say their inflation-adjusted earnings seem to be declining. Why is this and can anything be done to reverse what some have labelled an irreversible trend?

Over the past few years globalization has brought unprecedented growth to the language services industry. Many have heard and answered the call. Census data shows that the number of translators and interpreters in the U.S. nearly doubled between 2008 and 2015, and, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment outlook for translators and interpreters is projected to grow by 29% through 2024. In an interview with CNBC last year, ATA Past President David Rumsey stated: “As the economy becomes more globalized and businesses realize the need for translation and interpreting to market their products and services, opportunities for people with advanced language skills will continue to grow sharply.” Judging by the size of the industry—estimated at $33.5 billion back in 2012, and expected to reach $37 billion this year—it seems the demand for translation will only continue to increase.

Many long-time freelance translators, however, don’t seem to be benefitting from this growth, particularly those who don’t work with a lot of direct clients. Many report they’ve had to lower their rates and work more hours to maintain their inflation-adjusted earnings. Also, the same question seems to be popping up in articles, blogs, and online forums. Namely, if the demand for translation is increasing, along with opportunities for people with advanced language skills, why are many professional freelance translators having difficulty finding work that compensates translation for what it is—a time-intensive, complex process that requires advanced, unique, and hard-acquired skills?

Before attempting to discuss this issue, a quick disclaimer is necessary: for legal reasons, antitrust law prohibits members of associations from discussing specific rates. Therefore, the following will not mention translation rates per se. Instead, it will focus on why many experienced translators, in a booming translation market inundated by newcomers, are forced to switch gears or careers, and what can be done to reverse what some have labelled an irreversible trend.

THE (UNQUANTIFIABLE) ISSUE

I’ll be honest. Being an in-house translator with a steady salary subject to regular increases, I have no first-hand experience with the crisis many freelance translators are currently facing. But I have many friends and colleagues who do. We all do. Friends who tell us that they’ve lost long-standing clients because they couldn’t lower their rates enough to accommodate the clients’ new demands. Friends who have been translating for ages who are now wondering whether there’s a future in freelance translation.

Unfortunately, unlike the growth of the translation industry, the number of freelance translators concerned about the loss of their inflation-adjusted earnings and the future of the profession is impossible to quantify. But that doesn’t mean the problem is any less real. At least not judging by the increasing number of social media posts discussing the issue, where comments such as the ones below abound.

  • “Expenses go up, but rates have remained stagnant or decreased. It doesn’t take a genius to see that translation is slowly becoming a sideline industry rather than a full-time profession.”
  • “Some business economists claim that translation is a growth industry. The problem is that the growth is in volume, not rates.”
  • “Our industry has been growing, but average wages are going down. This means that cheap service is growing faster than quality.”

Back in 2010, Common Sense Advisory, a market research company specializing in translation and globalization, started discussing technology- and globalization-induced rate stagnation and analyzing potential causes. Now, almost 10 years later, let’s take another look at what created the crisis many freelance translators are facing today.

A LONG LIST OF INTERCONNECTED FACTORS

The causes leading to technology- and globalization-induced rate stagnation are so interconnected that it’s difficult to think of each one separately. Nevertheless, each deserves a spot on the following list.

Globalization, internet technology, and the growth of demand for translation services naturally resulted in a rise of the “supply.” In other words, an increasing number of people started offering their services as translators. Today, like all professionals affected by global competition, most freelance translators in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Western Europe find themselves competing against a virtually infinite pool of translators who live in countries where the cost of living is much cheaper and are able to offer much lower rates. Whether those translators are genuine professional translators or opportunists selling machine translation to unsuspecting clients is almost immaterial. As the law of supply and demand dictates, when supply exceeds demand, prices generally fall.

1. The Sheer Number of Language Services Providers and the Business/Competition Model: The increase in global demand has also lead to an increase in the number of language services providers (LSPs) entering the market. Today, there are seemingly thousands of translation agencies in a market dominated by top players. Forced to keep prices down and invest in advertising and sales to maintain their competitiveness, many agencies give themselves limited options to keep profits up—the most obvious being to cut direct costs (i.e., lower rates paid to translators). Whether those agencies make a substantial profit each year (or know anything about translation itself) is beside the point. There are many LSPs out there that follow a business model that is simply not designed to serve the interests of freelance translators. Interestingly enough, competing against each other on the basis of price alone doesn’t seem to be serving their interests either, as it forces many LSPs into a self-defeating, downward spiral of dropping prices. As Luigi Muzii, an author, translator, terminologist, teacher, and entrepreneur who has been working in the industry for over 30 years, puts it:

“The industry as a whole behaves as if the market were extremely limited. It’s as if survival depended on open warfare […] by outright price competition. Constantly pushing the price down is clearly not a sustainable strategy in the long-term interests of the professional translation community.”

2. The Unregulated State of the Profession: In many countries, including the U.S., translation is a widely unregulated profession with low barriers to entry. There is also not a standardized career path stipulating the minimum level of training, experience, or credentials required. Despite the existence of ISO standards and certifications from professional associations around the globe, as long as the profession (and membership to many professional associations) remains open to anyone and everyone, competition will remain exaggeratedly and unnaturally high, keeping prices low or, worse, driving them down.

3. Technology and Technological “Improvements”: From the internet to computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools to machine translation, technology may not be directly related to technology- and globalization-induced rate stagnation, but there’s no denying it’s connected. The internet is what makes global communication and competition possible. CAT tools have improved efficiency so much in some areas that most clients have learned to expect three-tier pricing in all areas. Machine translation is what’s allowing amateurs to pass as professionals and driving the post-editing-of-machine-translation business that more and more LSPs rely on today. Whether machine translation produces quality translations, whether the post-editing of machine translation is time efficient, and whether “fuzzy matches” require less work than new content are all irrelevant questions, at least as things stand today. As long as technologies that improve (or claim to improve) efficiency exist, end clients will keep expecting prices to reflect those “improvements.”

4. Unaware, Unsuspecting, and Unconcerned Clients: Those of you who’ve read my article about “uneducated” clients may think that I’m obsessed with the subject, but to me it seems that most of the aforementioned factors have one common denominator: clients who are either unaware that all translations (and translators) are not created equal, or are simply unconcerned about the quality of the service they receive. These clients will not be willing to pay a premium price for a service they don’t consider to be premium.

One look at major translation bloopers and their financial consequences for companies such as HSBC, KFC, Ford, Pampers, Coca Cola, and many more is enough to postulate that many clients know little about translation (or the languages they’re having their texts translated into). They may be unaware that results (in terms of quality) are commensurate to a translator’s skills, experience, and expertise, the technique/technology used for translating, and the time spent on a project. And who’s to blame them? Anyone with two eyes is capable of looking at a bad paint job and seeing it for what it is, but it requires a trained eye to spot a poor translation and knowledge of the translation process itself (and language in general) to value translation for what it is.

Then there’s the (thankfully marginal) number of clients who simply don’t care about the quality of the service they receive, or whether the translation makes sense or not. This has the unfortunate effect of devaluing our work and the profession in the eyes of the general public. Regrettably, when something is perceived as being of little value, it doesn’t tend to fetch premium prices. As ATA Treasurer John Milan writes:

“When consumers perceive value, they [clients] are more willing to pay for it, which raises a series of questions for our market. Do buyers of language services understand the services being offered? What value do they put on them? […] All these variables will have an impact on final market rates.”

5. The Economy/The Economical State of Mind: Whether clients need or want to save money on language services, there’s no denying that everyone always seems to be looking for a bargain these days. Those of us who have outsourced translation on behalf of clients know that, more often than not, what drives a client’s decision to choose a service provider over another is price, especially when many LSPs make the same claims about their qualifications, quality assurance processes, and industry expertise.

6. Other Factors: From online platforms and auction sites that encourage price-based bidding and undifferentiated global competition, to LSPs making the post-editing of machine translation the cornerstone of their business, to professional translators willing to drop their rates to extreme lows, there are many other factors that may be responsible for the state of things. However, they’re more byproducts of the situation than factors themselves.

A VERY REAL CONCERN

Rising global competition and rate stagnation are hardly a unique situation. Today, freelance web designers, search engine optimization specialists, graphic designers, and many other professionals in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Western Europe must compete against counterparts in India, China, and other parts of the world where the cost of living is much cheaper—with the difference that product/service quality isn’t necessarily sacrificed in the process. And that may be the major distinction between what’s happening in our industry and others: the risk posed to translation itself, both as an art form and as a product/service.

While some talk about the “uberization” or “uberification” of the translation industry or blame technology (namely, machine translation) for declining rates, others point a finger at a business model (i.e., the business/competition model) that marginalizes the best translators and creates a system where “bad translators are driving out the good ones.” The outcome seems to be the same no matter which theory we examine: the number of qualified translators (and the quality of translations) is in danger of going down over time. As Luigi Muzii explains:

“The unprecedented growth in demand for translation in tandem with the effect of Gresham’s Law [i.e., bad translators driving out the good ones] will lead inexorably to a chronic shortfall of qualified language specialists. The gap between the lower and the higher ends of the translation labor market is widening and the process will inevitably continue.”

Between 2006 and 2012, Common Sense Advisory conducted a regular business confidence survey among LSPs. During those years, there seemed to be an increase in the number of LSPs that reported having difficulty finding enough qualified language specialists to meet their needs. Since the number of translators varies depending on the language pair, the shortage may not yet be apparent in all segments of the industry, but the trend is obviously noticeable enough that an increasing number of professionals (translators, LSPs, business analysts, etc.) are worrying about it. And all are wondering the same thing: can anything be done to reverse it?

ARE THERE ANY “SOLUTIONS?”

In terms of solutions, two types have been discussed in recent years: micro solutions (i.e., individual measures that may help individual translators maintain their rates or get more work), and macro solutions (i.e., large-scale measures that may help the entire profession on a long-term basis).

On the micro-solution side, we generally find:

  • Differentiation (skills, expertise, productivity, degree, etc.)
  • Specialization (language, subject area, market, translation sub-fields such a transcreation)
  • Diversification (number of languages or services offered, etc.)
  • Presentation (marketing efforts, business practices, etc.)
  • Client education

Generally speaking, micro solutions tend to benefit only the person implementing them, although it can be argued that anything that can be done to improve one’s image as a professional and educate clients might also benefit the profession as a whole, albeit to a lesser degree.

On the macro-solution side, we find things that individual translators have somewhat limited power over. But professional associations (and even governments) may be able to help!

Large-Scale Client Education: Large-scale client education is possibly the cornerstone of change; the one thing that may change consumer perception and revalue the profession in the eyes of the general public. As ATA Treasurer John Milan puts it:

“Together, we can educate the public and ensure that our consumers value us more like diamonds and less like water”

Most professional associations around the globe already publish client education material, such as Translation, Getting it Right— A Guide to Buying Translation. Other initiatives designed to raise awareness about translation, such as ATA’s School Outreach Program, are also helpful because they educate the next generation of clients. But some argue that client education could be more “aggressive.” In other words, professional associations should not wait for inquiring clients to look for information, but take the information to everyone, carrying out highly visible public outreach campaigns (e.g., advertising, articles, and columns in the general media). ATA’s Public Relations Committee has been very active in this area, including publishing articles written by its Writers Group in over 85 trade and business publications.

Some have also mentioned that having professional associations take a clear position on issues such as machine translation and the post-editing of machine translation would also go a long way in changing consumer perception. In this regard, many salute ATA’s first Advocacy Day last October in Washington, DC, when 50 translators and interpreters approached the U.S. Congress on issues affecting our industry, including machine translation and the “lowest-price-technically-available” model often used by the government to contract language services. However, the success of large-scale client education may be hindered by one fundamental element, at least in the United States.

Language Education: I’m a firm believer that there are some things that one must have some personal experience with to value. For example, a small business owner might think that tax preparation is easy (and undervalue the service provided by his CPA) until he tries to prepare his business taxes himself and realizes how difficult and time consuming it is—not to mention the level of expertise required!

Similarly, monolingual people may be told or “understand” that translation is a complex process that requires a particular set of skills, or that being bilingual doesn’t make you a translator any more than having two hands makes you a concert pianist. But unless they have studied another language (or, in the case of bilingual people, have formally studied their second language or have tried their hand at translation), they’re not likely to truly comprehend the amount of work and expertise required to translate, or value translation for what it really is.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the vast majority of Americans (close to 80%) remain monolingual, and only 10% of the U.S. population speak another language well. In their 2017 report on the state of language education in the U.S., the Commission on Language Learning concluded that the U.S. lags behind most nations when it comes to language education and knowledge, and recommended a national strategy to improve access to language learning and “value language education as a persistent national need.”

Until language education improves and most potential clients have studied a second language, one might contend that the vast majority of Americans are likely to keep undervaluing translation services and that large-scale client education may not yield the hoped-for results. This leaves us with one option when it comes to addressing the technology- and globalization-induced rate stagnation conundrum.

Industry-Wide Regulations: In most countries, physicians are expected to have a medical degree, undergo certification, and get licensed to practice medicine. The same applies to dentists, nurses, lawyers, plumbers, electricians, and many other professions. In those fields, mandatory education, training, and/or licensing/certification establish core standards and set an expected proficiency level that clients have learned to expect and trust—a proficiency level that all clients value.

Whether we’re talking of regulating access to the profession itself or controlling access to professional associations or online bidding platforms, there’s no question that implementing industry-wide regulations would go a long way in limiting wild, undifferentiated competition and assuring clients that they are receiving the best possible service. While some may think that regulations are not a practical option, it may be helpful to remember that physicians didn’t always have to undergo training, certification, and licensing to practice medicine in the U.S. Today, however, around 85% of physicians in the U.S. are certified by an accredited medical board, and it’s safe to say that all American physicians have a medical degree and are licensed to practice medicine. And the general public wouldn’t want it any other way! Is it so implausible to expect that the same people who would let no one except a qualified surgeon operate on them would want no one except a qualified professional translate the maintenance manual of their nation’s nuclear reactors?

SO, WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR FREELANCE TRANSLATORS?

Generally speaking, most experts agree that the demand for translation services will keep growing, that technology will keep becoming more and more prevalent, and that the translation industry will become even more fragmented. According to Luigi Muzii:

In the immediate future, I see the translation industry remaining highly fragmented with an even larger concentration of the volume of business in the hands of a bunch of multi-language vendors who hire translators from the lower layer of the resource market to keep competing on price. This side of the industry will soon count for more than a half of the pie. The other side will be made up of tiny local boutique firms and tech-savvy translator pools making use of cutting-edge collaborative tools. […] The prevailing model will be “freeconomics,” where basic services are offered for free while advanced or special features are charged at a premium. The future is in disintermediation and collaboration. […] The winners will be those translators who can leverage their specialist linguistic skills by increasing their productivity with advances in technology.

The future of freelance translation, however, may be a bit more uncertain. Indeed, many argue that even with acute specialization, first-rate translation skills, and marketing abilities to match, many freelance translators’ chances at succeeding financially in the long term may be limited by the lack of industry regulations and the general public’s lack of language education/knowledge (i.e., the two factors that feed wild, undifferentiated competition). But that’s not to say there’s no hope.

At least that’s what learning about the history of vanilla production taught me. Growing and curing vanilla beans is a time-intensive, labor-intensive, intricate process. It’s a process that meant that for over 150 years vanilla was considered a premium product, and vanilla growers made a decent living. When vanillin (i.e., synthetic vanilla flavoring) became widely available in the 1950s, however, most food manufacturers switched to the less expensive alternative. After only a few decades, many vanilla growers were out of business and the ones who endured barely made a living, forced to lower prices or resort to production shortcuts (which reduced quality) to sell faster. During that period, the only people making a profit were the vanilla brokers. At the beginning of the 21st century, however, nutrition education and consumer demand for all-natural foods started turning things around, and by 2015 vanillin had fallen from grace and natural vanilla was in high demand again. By then, however, there were few vanilla growers left and climate change was affecting production and reducing supply significantly. Today, vanilla beans fetch 30–50 times the price they did during the vanillin era.

For those who may have missed the analogy: professional (freelance) translators are to the translation industry what the vanilla growers are to the food industry. Those who endure the current technology- and globalization-induced rate stagnation may eventually (if the forces at play can be harnessed) witness a resurgence. In the meantime, the best we can do is to keep doing what we do (provide quality service, educate our clients, fight for better language education in the U.S., and support our professional associations’ initiatives to improve things), and talk constructively about the issue instead of pretending that it doesn’t exist, that it won’t affect us, or that nothing can be done about it. If you’re reading this article, things have already started to change!

 

Reference: https://bit.ly/2K3t1Xe