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Are you changing your mind?

Are you changing your mind? (medical translation)
So, what's new and different in translation? For that matter, what's new in your business? If your answer contains some versi of "not much", Amazon's Jeff Bezos has some crisp advice for you: Change your mind.

The folks at Signal vs. Noise shared this tidbit after a recent visit by Jeff to their office:
He said people who were right a lot of the time were people who often changed their minds. He doesn't think consistency of thought is a particularly positive trait. It's perfectly healthy — encouraged, even — to have an idea tomorrow that contradicted your idea today.

He's observed that the smartest people are constantly revising their understanding, reconsidering a problem they thought they'd already solved. They're open to new points of view, new information, new ideas, contradictions, and challenges to their own way of thinking.
Which got me thinking about the translation business. There have been very, very few ideas and developments. Does that mean we're not smart? Or just lazy? Or that translation as it is being done today is as good as it's ever going to get? Hmmm....

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  1. Gio Lester said...
    "There have been very, very few ideas and developments." That is exactly the opposite of what I see.
    Andres Heuberger said...

    @ Gio: Thank you for your comment! What kind of new ideas and/or development have you seen?

    Susana Valdez said...
    I agree with Gio. There have been a lot of new ideas and developments in the last years. Just take a look at the different translation conferences throughout the world and the articles published. The scientific translation community is constantly producing and publishing new discoveries.
    Andres Heuberger said...
    Thanks, Susana, for your perspective! Can you (or somebody else) list some actual new ideas and discoveries?

    Susana Valdez said...
    Hi Andres,

    I advise you to take a look at the EST website (http://www.est-translationstudies.org/index.html) and at META (http://www.erudit.org/revue/meta/2011/v56/n4/index.html) and John Benjamins and see what has been published.

    If you are interested in research, I would find a specific topic that I would want to now more, and via the Translation Studies Online Bibliography (http://www.benjamins.com/online/tsb/) find what has been published in that area.

    Happy readings.
    gabriele berghammer said...
    i totally agree that, practically speaking, little has happened in the past 15-20 years.

    the so-called 'translation studies' have had little or no impact on the practice of translation. this is because most translation scholars have failed to come out or their ivory tower and put their shoulders to the wheel...

    the advent of translation memories (TMs) was the latest (or should we say 'last') major step. since then, the translation industry has largely been into putting TMs and other technical gimmicks to use to increase profits. much of the industry has been a price-dumping driver.

    there has been little in the way of educating buyers and consumers of translation of the challenges of translation. with price and quality inversely correlated, the translation industry has ended up in a cul-de-sac, reached a plateau.
    Glenda said...
    I also see a lot of change--particularly in my day-to-day practice. Not so much in the methods/technologies I use for interpretation and translation, but more in how I choose to render something.

    For example, at the beginning of my career, I always used the "proper" word for something when interpreting. This was the standard I was held to by my agency. However, I noticed this would often lead to a breakdown in communication. For example, when an Italian LEP who has lived here for 40+ years speaks of a check, they invariably call it "checka" and generally do not understand "assegno." So if the LEP starts calling it a checka, I just follow their lead, because if I start talking about assegno they generally get very confused and frustrated.

    Something similar happens when rendering slang. Slang is constantly changing, and so do translations that go along with it.

    I have also found myself leaving more and more words in English when communicating with Italians based in Italy. Particularly when it comes to technology and online media, usually English is preferred for certain things, like for instance "password." I used to translate this, but now I leave it as-is, because my experience has taught me this is the most common usage.

    And, although the introduction of MT and CAT is in some ways old hat, it is also true that that kind of software is constantly evolving. I see Trados being updated to reflect their users' needs, as well as new programs coming out that try to address some of the concerns by the translators.

    Lastly, I agree with Gabriele. There has been a substantial change in the way the translation business works and how it treats its employees and contractors. The focus has shifted from quality to price. I see translation disasters everywhere I turn, and it just doesn't seem to matter. I also see more and more American businesses have scads of typos and grammatical errors on their web pages. Even news articles in prestigious newspapers are often poorly proofread. It just seems to be the trend, proper use of language has become less important than speed, quantity and low price.

    Ten years ago, I got rejection after rejection from translation agencies because I did not hold a College degree. Now I have one, and most agencies don't ask for it. They also do not pay professional rates anymore. You just can't repay student debt with a $9-10 per hour job.

    So, let me ask you... When you say there has been no change, what do you think about?
    write essay said...
    Aside from linguistic skills, it requires specific training and subject matter knowledge in order to translate medical content. This is because of the highly technical, sensitive and regulated nature of medical texts. Thanks.
    Roman Mironov said...
    I believe there are at least two new ideas or trends that are going to completely change the face of this industry. The first is machine translation. The second is dropping translation rates. Quality is so going to take a hit as a result that you won't recognize this industry in a decade or so.

    Best wishes,

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