Technology is present in every sphere of life, and the most important thing is not to be afraid of it and to apply it properly. The translation and localization industry is no exception, as it is permeated by various technologies. Many translation companies are not merely using technology in their day-to-day activities, but are becoming technologically savvy and developing their own solutions and tools. Obviously, this was not always the case. Technology has evolved, and today it enables us to translate faster, better and more efficiently.
One key technology is technology that speeds translation. This, of course, refers to machine translation, which was pioneered by American scientist Warren Weaver. The history of machine translation goes back to the 17th century, and the first significant results in this area can be traced to the 1940s. Rule-based machine translation appeared in 1949: literally meaning that such machine translation uses numerous rules and various dictionaries. Nearly half a century later, in 1993, statistical machine translation appeared, which learns to translate by analyzing existing non-machine translations. A decade later, in 2013, neural machine translation emerged, which uses artificial neural networks simulating the neural connections in the human brain to predict the probability of word sequences.
Today, there are various machine translation systems—standard (for non-specialized translation), configurable (which undergo training using specific data and products) and adaptive (self-training in real time). Machine translation as a phenomenon and technology definitely has its pros and cons: it can provide translation at an incredible speed and in several languages simultaneously, but in some cases the system may have difficulty interpreting multiple words, determining word order, etc. It is thus important to learn how to apply this solution at the right time and in the right places.
One more important technology is translation automation systems, or Computer-Assisted Translation tools (CAT tools). Machine-assisted translation is not to be confused with machine translation. They are completely different. Unlike machine translation, CAT tools do not translate, but help with translation. One of the main advantages of CAT tools is the creation and implementation of translation memories (TM). The use of CAT tools allows the translator to save time, create subject glossaries, and manage translation quality, and allows teams of linguists to work on joint projects efficiently, ensuring terminological consistency and maintaining stylistic unity. The use of CAT tools is especially efficient with technical, financial and legal texts full of specialized terms, because in many cases entire sections of text are repeated within a set of such documents, and the specialists do not need to work with them again, since the CAT tool finds and uses the repeated text segments.
Today, there are different types of CAT tools. Some are installed on desktop computers (until 2012 all CAT tools were like this) and some are cloud-based solutions. The most well-known and respected CAT tool is SDL Trados Studio, but MemoQ, Across, and others are also popular.
Another useful technology worth mentioning is Translation Management Systems (TMS). A TMS is software used to automate many stages of the translation process. The non-automated tasks are those that require a special, creative approach and the involvement of a specialist. Ubiquitous automation helps everyone involved in the translation process—clients, project managers and teams of linguists. Simple and highly transparent interaction, guaranteed confidentiality, and 24/7 access to all information related to a project make it possible to effectively implement even the most complex tasks.
As is apparent, the range of technological solutions that translation company specialists resort to today is quite wide. There is growing interest in process automation, application of artificial intelligence, and new technologies, which means that in the foreseeable future we will witness (or even develop) new intelligent solutions serving the translation and localization industry.