One of the difficulties with being a professional in any field is staying up-to-date on new developments. Inundated with other demands and deadlines, you often leave continuing education to when you get that spare time you’ve always dreamed of, but never had. Often, the only education that you have time for is that which is crucial to complete a particular new task, and that education must be done quickly and efficiently in order to meet a deadline. In my experience, these generalities seem to hold true for professional translators as well.
One field in particular that translators do not have the time or often the desire to further educate themselves in is that of technology, and translation technology in particular – after all, most translators didn’t get into the field because they love computers. However, with the growing demands of the technological world, translators are often pushed into a scenario where they need technology and they need it now. Add in the countless complexities of technology that are carelessly thrown translators’ way and the tight deadlines, and the scenario becomes dire. So what can be done once in this situation and how can this be avoided in the future?
Obviously, the outcome of these dire scenarios is varied but these are a few of the possibilities:
- First, you could get ulcers, gray hair (and less total hair), and sleepless nights in the process of ramming your head against the technology wall until either your head or the wall breaks – not a particularly good outcome.
- Second, you can Google everything you don’t know. These outcomes are as varied the quality of MT and much less funny.
- Third, you can roll the dice with a technology forum. You could get lucky and get a useful and relevant reply, or you could never get anything at all.
- Finally, you can turn to a colleague that has technological experience to determine what your course of action should be. This could have the ideal outcome or the same outcome as number one above. Your friend might be exactly the person to ask and have the solution. Or they could just know what works for them which may or may not help you. Either way, they are more likely to aid you in your work than a Google forum, or other uninterested 3rd party.
Given that dire situations most often have less-than desirable outcomes, avoiding future such scenarios should be your first priority. But once again, how do you do that with all the other demands on your time? May I venture a few suggestions:
- Find technologically savvy friends and/or family members that you can count on in a crunch.
- Follow translation technology blogs (shameless self-promotion) or other publications – the ATA Chronicle, MultiLingual magazine, Jost Zetzsche’s Toolbox newsletter, etc.
- Get a translation tool – Fluency! – and stay up on how it works by scheduling training sessions a couple times a year. This has the side benefit of getting you access to technical support when necessary and if your tool has tech support like ours, this alone will often save you hours of stress.
Continuing education is a challenge in any field, but with the technological-tilt of the current translation world, it may be nowhere more crucial than in translation technology.