SO HOW DOES IT REALLY WORK?
Hands-on? Do you just sit there at your desk with your dictionary and your computer – and type? Word by word, sentence by sentence? The answer is: No! Things have evolved a bit further than that.
Today, most translators work with computerized tools. In the industry, it is referred to as CAT (Computer Aided Translation). We use different programs; some are strictly translation-centered, others are more general. The very core of the digital translation process is a so-called TM, Translation Memory. In short, a TM is a database where translated phrases (segments) are stored as they are processed. The next time the same or a similar segment appears on the screen, you get a “match” in the TM, and the stored translation is presented on the screen. This match could be 100% or “fuzzy” (<100%). Tools like these are invaluable when translating standard text or content that is updated frequently, since it is recurring to a large extent. When translating texts requiring a more dynamic and creative approach, however, they can be inhibiting since it is then very easy to get stuck with static standard language on an incorrect style level. As a result of the demand for cost reductions, different types of machine translation (MT) have surfaced. (Anybody heard of this little thing called Google Translate?) Many translators are against this development, and claim that MT turns them into mundane editors of randomly created and often terrible translations. Most of us have probably already accepted that this practice is here to stay, and as the technology develops it will offer stronger benefits even for language providers, no doubt!
And last, but not least: Let’s not forget the more general tools! There are a lot of different sources out there, making life easier to the world of translators. Back at university, hours on end were spent flipping through different editions of various dictionaries: Websters, Collins, Oxford… Not to mention all the Swedish ones! Today, most important reference sources are available online, or increasingly often as a smartphone application. And there is the Internet! In short: Information is more accessible than ever, and sometimes the problem is not to find information, but to filter away what’s not relevant or correct!
So, as a conclusion, it is safe to say that modern-day translators really do keep up with the ultra-fast technical development, and that our industry has exciting things to look forward to in the future.