Luddite? Luddite my iPhone!

 “We should use technology to assist us.
We should not allow technology to assist others in using us.”
Rose Newell

In order to consolidate concepts useful to the business of some software vendors and some agencies, a translator who opposes machine translation is branded a “luddite.”

Machine translation per se should probably not to be criticized. Although I don’t use it and I don’t think I ever will (whether because of my own personal ‘style’ as a translator or because of the type of documents I normally work with), I know some colleagues who have their Systran licenses and others who are already using open source MT (never on-line MT, of course, since, as we all know–or should know–the use of on-line MT violates our confidentiality obligation with the client). If MT works OK for them, fine! It should be emphasized that when colleagues  choose to include MT in their professional translations, whatever they produce stays in their own PCs. In other words, they’re not feeding the big machine and endangering our profession in the process. They post-edit their own work (i.e. they profit from technology), but would never accept being post-editors for others, since they are well aware of the suicide that this implies.

The time devoted to formal and/or informal training, and the money that we translators invest in technology (hardware, software, and a wide range of other technological possibilities open to us), differs from one translator to another. Still, a professional who doesn’t keep pace with technology is condemned to being out of the professional loop very soon.

The question is simple, and rhetorical: Who in his/her right mind would reject something that results in better and more efficient translations?
Being 100% Internet dependent, we invest in Blackberries or iPhones, and, in general, in many other devices that help us “carry” our business with us, wherever we go and guarantee 100% connectivity, which is of key importance to us. Translators on the go, then, have pendrives, extermal drives, projectors, notebooks, netbooks, etc. And for the office, we invest in a wide array of technological possibilities: double monitors, voice recognition software, wireless printers, etc. We pay attention to what our colleagues say about new TMs or new versions of those we already know, and we are ready to switch from Coca-Cola to Pepsi if the change results in more time to revise, develop our businesses or squeeze in a couple of sets of tennis. And although most of us translators love paper books, the benefits of e-books are undeniable… I’ve gotten so used to my Nook that the other day I found myself pressing on a word I didn’t know in a paper book!

In short, no, we aren’t against technology. On the contrary, being technologically savvy is, increasingly, a must in our profession. We are excited about new technologies, but we want them for our own benefit, not for the benefit of intermediaries, agencies and/or other parties, whose goal is to control and undermine our earnings.

Many professionals lost the CAT tools discount battle. We should have learned something from that lesson by now. After all, we are no less businesspeople than agencies and software vendors are.

Aurora Humarán

Edited by Dan Newland
Illustrated by Juan Tavella
Rose Newell’s blog