Lost in machine translation

Are robots replacing us? For translators, this prospect is quite realistic. Though machine translation can be useful with simple and direct text, it still has a lot to catch up on to eliminate language barriers and understand subtle meanings. Publishing across languages on today’s Standard Time episode.

Despite popular belief, the majority of Europeans do not have access to learning foreign languages, and being bi- or multilingual is still a privilege for most

With English becoming the most recent lingua franca, cutting back on the EU’s multilingualism and hasty technologization pose a double threat for professional translators. Automated translation and voice detection promise to break language barriers, but sceptics are beginning to worry. 

Though many warn of the effects of automation,  the use of AI in publishing is already altering the way we work. In a lot of cases, workers no longer need to start a process from scratch and can instead rely on automation for certain tasks. For translators, this means saving time on taking a trip to the library and allowing AI tools to provide alternative translations or detect errors within them. Yet, it also runs the risk of being outsourced, as many companies are pouring their resources into technologization, locally hiring professionals requires extra steps that most employers are not willing to take. 

The European Commission has significantly increased its spending on translation technology in the past couple of years, consequently lowering recruitment levels. ‘‘Post-editing’ is the jargon EU translators use for revising machine-translated texts, which has become a crucial part of the job. Much of the profession has been outsourced to a gig economy promising faster and more efficient methods, but leading to exploitation. 

Albeit effective with simple and direct text, machine translation still has a lot to improve in accessibility, bias detection, and cultural understanding. Being able to read between the lines and decipher subtle meanings remain a valuable human skill. Due to this, the need for human translators is still in high demand – and with the profession adapting, this symbiosis is sure to further evolve. 

Today’s guests 

Gian-Paolo Accardo is an Italian-Dutch journalist. He is the executive editor of VoxEurop, co-founder and CEO of the VoxEurop European Co-operative Society, and editorial coordinator at the European Data Journalism Network

Alexander Baratsits is the founding president of the Cultural Broadcasting Archive,  which offers the content of 28 radio stations in 50 languages. He is also a legal lead at Creative Commons Austria and editor of the book “Building a European Digital Public Space, offering Strategies for taking back control from Big Tech platforms“.

Frances Pinter is an Open Access (OA) advocate and the first woman to establish her own publishing company in the UK. She is the founder of Knowledge Unlatched, the Open Climate Campaign, and the Supporting Ukrainian Publishing Resilience and Recovery Organization (SUPRR).

We meet with them at the Cafe Disko of the Bikes and Rails Housing Project, Vienna. 

Creative team

Réka Kinga Papp, editor-in-chief
Merve Akyel, art director
Szilvia Pintér, producer
Zsófia Gabriella Papp, executive producer
Salma Shaka, writer-editor
Priyanka Hutschenreiter, project assistant

Management

Hermann Riessner  managing director
Judit Csikós  project manager
Csilla Nagyné Kardos, office administration

OKTO Crew

Senad Hergić producer
Leah Hochedlinger  video recording
Marlena Stolze  video recording
Clemens Schmiedbauer video recording
Richard Brusek sound recording

Postproduction

Nóra Ruszkai, lead video editor
István Nagy, video editor
Milán Golovics, conversation editor

Art

Victor Maria Lima, animation
Cornelia Frischauf, theme music

Captions and subtitles

Julia Sobota  closed captions, Polish and French subtitles; language versions management
Farah Ayyash  Arabic subtitles
Mia Belén Soriano  Spanish subtitles
Marta Ferdebar  Croatian subtitles
Lídia Nádori  German subtitles
Katalin Szlukovényi  Hungarian subtitles
Daniela Univazo  German subtitles
Olena Yermakova  Ukrainian subtitles
Aida Yermekbayeva  Russian subtitles
Mars Zaslavsky  Italian subtitles

Sources

Who killed the EU’s translators? by Gregorio Sorgi and Federica de Sario, Politico. 

The Ethos on Outsourcing and Offshoring: A Look at Labour Standards, Intogreat. 

Why You Should Outsource Translation Services by Gabriel Fairman, Bureau Works. 

The Future of Translation: How AI is Changing the Game by Thibault Carrier, Linkedin. 

Will AI Replace Human Translators? by Toni Andrews, itit translates. 

Will AI translation technology replace translators? by Maria Schnell, RWS. 

Disclosure

This talk show is a Display Europe production: a ground-breaking media platform anchored in public values.

This programme is co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union and the European Cultural Foundation.

Importantly, the views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors and speakers only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor the EACEA can be held responsible for them.

Published 28 March 2024
Original in English

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