Home / Translation practice  / Five trends that defined the translation industry in 2017
14 Comments
  • Josephine Bacon

    The only trend I perceive is that more and more translation agencies are now requiring translators to use their own online CAT or MT tools rather than those available commercially. This is probably because they do not want translators to be able to use their own glossaries on other agencies’ work.

    Personally, I do not use any kind of CAT tool and never will and it has not prevented me from working.

    8 January, 2018 at 08.59 Reply
  • Herman

    Writing that rates will continue to decrease, sounds to me like writing a self-fulfulling prophecy where you call on agencies and companies to do so. It is as if you welcome such a decrease. If not, then do not write about it!

    In reality, the industry has split into two parts:
    a. the bottom part where translations are required for the sake of having a translation rather than quality. This part of the market is dominated by bottom-feeders, by large international agencies, by cheap translators and by all those who embrace machine translation.

    b. the upper part where quality is paramount and the first priority, and therefore much more important than price. There still are a lot of companies who are willing to pay for quality. This part of the market is dominated by small agencies, quality translators and mainly freelancers who can easily compete with and do better than large agencies.

    With your article, you seem to have a preference for the former part of the market. That is perfectly acceptable, but don’t expect other translators to follow your path or to be dragged into your wish for lower rates..

    9 January, 2018 at 08.40 Reply
      • Herman

        Of course you don’t appreciate that trend. I know that. Sometimes one has to be blunt (or use a hyperbole) to get a message accross 😉

        It’s also impossible to generalize. In some, mainly smaller, countries, translators do achieve results. In the past few years Belgian agencies have been panicking because they did not find the translators to do their cheap translations. They have been forced to accept the higher rates. In order to maintain their low prices and nice marging, they simply skip the revision step.
        But that’s OK. It’s just one more argument for companies to stop using them and to change to the freelance translator who does organize revision. Almost every new direct client I get, tells me that they are fed up with the quality agencies provide them with.

        It also helps that beginning translators receive a load of useful information about what to do and what not to do. A beautiful example of the latter is that they are told that the fact they only just started their career is no reason to have low rates. Jt’s the quality that determines the price, not the number of years of experience. More and more universities invite people like myself to tell last year Master students about this.

        My conclusion is that true professional translators have a bright future, providing they make perfect use of marketing tools, continue to educate both clients and (beginning) colleagues.

        For the bargain translators on the other hand, they can surely expect more work at even lower rates. But who are we to care? 😉

        9 January, 2018 at 10.29 Reply
    • minnie alonso

      Thank you for your reply. You have called a spade a spade. I wish you a happy 2018, full of translation assignments.

      12 January, 2018 at 10.57 Reply
  • Iveta Kopankina

    Hello, Herman, nice to read a similar message to what I might have written myself. I consult PhD. students and translate their summaries, while I work on my own PhD. As P. Newman used to say, after all the quality of translation is the responsibility of the translator and sometimes that of the editor and the truth has to come out at some point. I am glad that this tendency is becoming international. By the way, I also work for direct clients with very few exceptions. And yes, there really is a distinct dissimilarity between the bottom – feeders and professional translators. @Pieter, yes life is not a bed of roses, however if the tendency to ignore quality continues, this will have impact both on the languages and the intellect of humankind. One may argue that profit is more important than general considerations, the problem is that the end clients suffer from such practice as well.

    9 January, 2018 at 20.02 Reply
  • Abdelkader

    Etant débutant, j’ai du rabaisser de moitié mes prix dans la cinquantaine de sites où je m’étais inscrit. Mais cela n’a donné aucun résultat. J’ai découvert alors , en jetant un regard sur les prix de “collègues” qu’il fallait encore descendre plus bas pour se niveler avec les prix de traducteurs qui proposent trois fois rien.

    Je me suis finalement dit que le gros investissement que j’ai consenti pour me former à la traduction, à l’utilisation de logiciels, etc, etc, ne valait pas que je gaspille mon temps et mon énergie pour rien.
    Cela ne concerne pas seulement la traduction mais aussi la rédaction et la relecture. C’est le règne de la médiocrité et du gain facile, des deux côtés malheureusement. Chacun veut casser son sucre sur le dos des gens compétents.
    Mon rêve de prouver une certaine compétence est mort dans l’œuf. Le métier de traducteur tout court n’existe déjà plus . Peut-être que celui de traducteur assermenté tiendrait toujours bon parce qu’il suppose de protéger les intérêts des autres, c’est plus que de la qualité, c’est de l’assurance.

    10 January, 2018 at 02.02 Reply
  • Alex Marsh

    Great blog for those who want to enter translation industry, the translation trends of 2018 described are very perfect. The increasing machine translation will ruin the careers of thousands in coming time.

    18 January, 2018 at 12.58 Reply
  • Reader

    It will not ruin the careers. It will motivate and force people to change the spectrum of their services. Ever heard about post-editing? You can observe all over the world the job of translator is in transition. Few years ago only some used CATs- now you cannot imagine working without it, but there are still people who are against. There will be always people who are against the change and their transition will be the slowest.

    23 January, 2018 at 10.14 Reply
  • Steve Vitek

    “You can observe all over the world the job of translator is in transition. Few years ago only some used CATs- now you cannot imagine working without it, but there are still people who are against. There will be always people who are against the change and their transition will be the slowest.”

    Do not make the mistake of thinking that every translator is working like you do, which is to say with CATs.

    Most experienced translators either do not use CATs at all, or if they use them, don’t tell their clients that they use them because it’s nobody’s business. These are the translators who make and will continue to make good money.

    If the use of a certain tool, such as a CAT tool, is more important to your client than your actual translation, your “client” is likely to be a bottom feeding agency and you are likely to be a beginner or a translator who will be stuck working for low rates forever. I don’t use CATs and I have never been asked to use a CAT by a direct client. Agencies of course love CATs because it is an excellent tool that they use to steal our money by using the illegal concept of “full matches and fuzzy matches”, which is nothing but illegal wage theft.

    28 January, 2018 at 15.34 Reply
  • Oleg Gordeev

    Great article! Trend # 4 “More but smaller jobs” has been something new to me. Other trends have been discussed a lot lately.

    14 March, 2018 at 09.52 Reply
  • Jack Xiao

    Nowadays, with the addition of the new technology in progress, the translation path has entered the bifugation, one of the ways continues in the traditional way, and the other is being directed towards dependence on technology. I am a technical translator, mechanical engineer, I am seeing the volume of my work in decline. Even so, I do not intend to abandon the traditional way, we know that the best quality of translation is still the traditional way.

    11 May, 2018 at 02.52 Reply
  • Nancy Hall

    I couldn’t find such an informational content on translation industry than this as it contains all the necessary points of this topic. I really loved reading this. Thanks for sharing

    14 May, 2018 at 11.56 Reply
  • Jeremy

    I have been translating from German, French and Italian into English for around 20 years.

    I have also found that demand is now shifting from decent size translation jobs of (say) 2000 words upwards, down to “bits and pieces” jobs of only a few hundred words. A good number of the small jobs are these days are really so small that they are not an economical proposition to do. A number of the larger agencies no longer accept minimum pricing levels and so those freelancers who want work have to pick up crumbs from the agency’s table.

    I have had Trados in all its forms for 18 years or so and now have the 2017 version costing upwards of £600 , but I only treat it and use it as a necessary evil because agency clients want their freelancers to use CAT tools. The myths that have been built up around this memory based software are so much built on shifting sand that I find it quite miraculous that they have lasted so long. I suppose their durability is solely due to the inability or fear of translators to unite and refuse to use them.

    Why so?
    Translation like many activities succeeds or fails in relative terms on the basis of time taken to do the job to an acceptable level. What can one say about CAT tools?

    1/ They don’t save time because translation agencies nowadays block out most of the repeats in the source text anyway.
    2/ Usually the memories are poor quality because it’s much easier for the translator to make the corrections to the final target text only. Also, much of the translation in the TM is usually of poor quality anyway. Some clients know this and even tolerate known errors in their TMs.
    3/ Uniformity/consistency in translation IS an advantage, but not always except perhaps for certain technical terms and certainly not in any text that needs to be written with some flair.
    4/ The disgraceful Big Lie/Assumption is that translation is a word-by-word process and that by having fuzzy matches at various percentages provided by software, which the translator him/herself has bought at considerable expense, he/she is being helped to do his/her job and must therefore provide discounts based on the number of common words found. Um, er, no! Translation does not work like that actually, but these stupid or rather, rapacious translation software producers, agencies and some direct customers as well just love and are totally wedded to a system that forces reductions in their suppliers’ prices.
    5/ The worst practice of all is when discounts for fuzzy matches are even applied to editing texts. Actually editing is another word these days for “rewriting” texts as they are often written by people who can barely write English. Then there ensues the inevitable argument with the agency PM over the amount of time the Freelancer has spent in rewriting the rubbish text which was not allowed for in the budget, etc. Oh yes, and when you make a change to some badly written piece you have to justify it by stating the exact reason for the change.

    Certainly, I have been offered more editing jobs in the last 18 months or so than actual translations and they too have been also, of course, of smaller size following the trends mentioned.

    13 June, 2018 at 14.13 Reply
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