How freelance translators can combine current trends into one huge opportunity

James Hallett 16 Feb 2024 8 mins read
An introduction to translation collaboration
The localization industry has seen steady growth, even amidst challenges like the recent COVID-19 pandemic. As organizations produce more content across diverse channels, demand continues to rise, and the current content explosion is yet to show any signs that it’s going to subside, as discussed in our recent Translation Technology Insights report.  
 
Today, translators are faced with questions of how to meet client demands around speed, quality and cost, as well as how emerging technologies will disrupt their business. The right approach can turn these challenges into opportunity. Let’s consider the key trends bearing down on the industry.   

Generative AI and Large Language Models (LLM).

Ok, hands up – who knows what this actually means? You needn’t worry if you’re not familiar with new terms surrounding the latest AI boom. Simply put, generative AI creates new content autonomously, crafting original text or images based on patterns learned from extensive data. For us in the localization industry, its ability to create new content is what we’re most interested in. 
 
A large language model (LLM), like ChatGPT, is an advanced computer program proficient in understanding and generating human-like language. Trained on vast datasets, it serves as a sophisticated tool for tasks like writing, translation, and summarization, leveraging its extensive built-in knowledge to tackle diverse language-related challenges.  
 
It's no surprise that linguistic AI presents a significant opportunity for language professionals. Contrary to sensational headlines predicting AI enslavement, its true power lies in enhancing and accelerating your work. 
 
Generative AI can support language professionals with tasks like transcreation, eliminating gender bias, and adapting content to specific sentence lengths. One exciting new advancement is our AI Professional app which brings LLMs to Trados Studio, helping you to refine your work and tackle a wider range of linguistic challenges, ultimately elevating the overall quality of your translations.  
 
Key features include providing alternative translations based on user-defined prompts, offering additional information about source/target content, and removing gender bias. And it doesn’t end there. We’re continuously updating the app, downloadable from the RWS AppStore, to bring new features and functionality and to provide more options and flexibility. 
 
Another AI-driven feature we’ve recently developed is “Trados Copilot - Smart Help”. Smart Help leverages AI to enhance your Trados experience, making it smoother and more efficient than ever before. Its AI-driven engine sorts through our extensive set of online product documentation to provide accurate, timely, and context-relevant answers to your queries. 
 
It’s safe to say that AI is having an unwavering impact on the industry. And looking back, this isn't the first time. Trados has been infused with AI for decades, with machine translation being a core feature of our products. We now train our very own neural machine translation model, Language Weaver, to offer a no-fuss solution for those looking to use the latest in secure MT. 
 
Reflecting on the past fears surrounding Machine Translation (MT), the initial panic has subsided. Instead, it has consistently grown within the industry, without diminishing human involvement. Machine translation now plays an integral role in the translation process – and eventually the same will be said for Gen AI and LLMS. So, we suggest keeping informed, embracing AI and using these technological enhancements to your advantage.  

Goodbye translators. And hello Language Specialists. 

The transformative influence of technology on the translator's role cannot be overstated. Once limited to bridging linguistic gaps and translating text, today's translators have evolved into versatile professionals. The majority now navigate a dynamic digital landscape, diverse formats, cultural intricacies, and regulatory frameworks – all while maintaining a need for speed. 
 
This evolution demands new skills, utilization of advanced tools, and innovative approaches to work. Everything has undergone a paradigm shift for today's language professionals, which means the traditional role of the translator is changing. Yet, amidst these transformations, there's always been one constant: the job title. It's time to bid farewell to "translators" and embrace the era of "Language Specialists". 

Hyper-localization: Relevance is everything. 

The surge in translation demand is driven by the growing emphasis on personalized customer engagement. Businesses recognize the importance of communicating with customers in their native language, a fact supported by our latest report, Global Understanding. Unlocked.  
 
This trend is particularly beneficial towards opening new career opportunities in translation for bilingual speakers proficient in numerous languages. However, it also signifies a shift in the traditional role of a “translator”. As discussed above, professionals who are able to thrive in this evolving landscape are those who embody the concept of a “language specialist”.  These specialists are not just translators; they are creative linguists and cultural consultants adept at tailoring their work to deeply resonate with the target audience.  

AI crowdsourcing.

In contemporary society, the importance of environmental, social and corporate governance is paramount. Businesses are striving to be more inclusive, introducing initiatives to help make their products and services as sustainable and inclusive as possible. 
 
DEIA (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility) in the workforce continues to be a top priority for businesses, which means communicating with people in their native tongue can be considered a contribution to ESG objectives. This relates to our discussion surrounding hyper-localization and the growing emphasis on personalized customer engagement. For example, there has been a high increase in demand in adding sign language to video. 
 
This increased awareness of DEIA means organizations growingly want their values reflected in every language they use to communicate, which means that translation professionals need to be alert to language issues relating to gender, race, religion, disability, class and so on. 
 
There’s also the question of how sustainable localization activities are, especially if using generative AI models. These models need a huge amount of computing power to develop and run, so every organization exploiting them needs to take this into account when assessing their progress towards environmental goals. 
 
What does this mean for the translator? Well, as with hyper-localization, there are opportunities for translators who can help organizations to reflect their DEI values when they localize content. This can be particularly important in assessing the quality of MT or any AI-powered translation, because machines are notorious for reflecting biases of the past.  

How cloud-first working and the subject matter expert became best friends. 

The adoption of cloud-first working is gaining traction in the localization industry, particularly in functions benefiting from the accessibility of centralized, cloud-stored linguistic assets and cloud-managed processes. A prevalent combination involves cloud-based translation management coupled with a desktop-based translation or post-editing tool. 
 
With the ease of deploying and accessing cloud solutions and the notable improvement in machine translation (MT) quality, there's a noticeable shift towards cloud-based translation review by subject matter experts (SMEs) who aren't necessarily translation professionals. 
 
This trend is more prominent in subject areas demanding specialized knowledge and precise use of terminology. Organizations are increasingly exploring the 'SME-as-post-editor' model, relying on MT with SMEs editing as needed, with Large Language Models (LLMs) accelerating this trend.  
 
And there's no reason this trend can't also be leveraged by IT-savvy freelancers. 'For this model to work, somebody needs to organize the SME-only workflow, create templates, organize TMs, oversee MT/AI finetuning, develop prompts or train SMEs in prompt engineering, and generally offer the appropriate level of support. Who would suit this role better than a freelance translator with a deep knowledge of translation technology? Freelancers can act as the gatekeepers to help on-board SMEs with the correct processes. 
 
However, specialist freelance translators may be questioning what this means for them and their careers. With the amount of translatable content continuing to rise, we believe there will be a steady flow of work for everyone, regardless of which model you support.

What does the ecosystem mean to translation professionals? 

The rise in digitalization of processes for greater efficiency has inadvertently introduced a whole new category of inefficiency: friction caused by handoffs from one technology to another. As organizations look to expand their content reach across multiple platforms, the translation process will inevitably encounter obstacles. That’s why there’s a growing focus on creating technology ecosystems with integrated elements across which work can flow smoothly.  
 
For freelance translators, it’s important the translation technology you choose can easily ‘'plug and play’ with work givers within the localization supply chain. With Trados being used throughout the translation supply chain, you can trust that you will be able to easily accept and work on translation projects, with support for all kinds of working scenarios and all the latest file formats. In addition, we own and operate the language industry’s first and only AppStore you can access hundreds of useful apps which help to extend the functionality of your Studio environment and customize the way you work. The AI Professional app mentioned previously is just one of hundreds of useful apps that you can download and manage directly from within Trados Studio.  
 
Trados also extends its capabilities by offering seamless integration with partner technologies and customizable APIS. One example is Metalinguist, whose award-winning business management solution seamless integrates with Trados to help you efficiently scale your business, freeing you from administrative burdens. 
 
Luckily, Trados doesn’t just sit on its own. It’s at the heart of an ecosystem, meaning it can expand in line with your business requirements and can connect to partner technologies. 

So, what next? Why the right technology is key. 

Every provider of translation technology closely monitors the trends shaping the industry, and we’re no exception.  The trends outlined in this blog are here to stay – which means you need a technology provider you can trust to help navigate the changing industry. At Trados, we’re closely monitoring these trends to guide and inform our product roadmaps and future releases to best serve your needs. 
 
Find out more about these trends and what Trados is doing to help translation professionals in our “Nine trends – old and new – shaping localization” eBook. 
Read the eBook
Alina Bojescu
Author

James Hallett

Marketing Manager
James is a Marketing Manager at RWS, focused on promoting Trados to the freelance market. He has been working at Trados since 2022 and over seven years of marketing experience.
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