Nothing generates a hot debate faster than the topic of Machine Translation (MT). People love it or hate it, welcome it or fear it, use it or avoid it like the plague. For the typical large corporation, MT definitely has a role to play and like any other tool, if used properly can provide substantial benefits. MT, used improperly, can do lasting damage.
When I meet with clients, I often seek to learn more about their corporate structure; identify others within the organization that would benefit from our services and find ways to offer economies of scale. The most common response is, “Oh, I am only concerned with my department and really don’t interact with the other areas that much.”
I recently overheard someone from a large corporation say, “Next month will be a ‘red’ month.” The speaker went on to explain that meant a spending freeze was coming up and any unnecessary spending would be curtailed.
The answer to that question depends upon your risk tolerance. If you are able to afford all the consequences of having a non-compliant SDS going out with your shipments, then by all means, use a free online machine translation for your health and safety guidance. Would you also put your Last Will and Testament through it? If so, you have a higher risk tolerance than 99.9999% of the rest of us.
For over six years a group of dedicated people have worked to develop ASTM standards for Quality Assurance in Language Services. ASTM created Technical Committee F43 for Language Services and Products in 2010. There are nine subcommittees, with F43.05 being the subcommittee working on a standard for Language Service Companies (LSCs) for Quality Assurance in Language Services.
Regardless of which side of the political spectrum you prefer, the one thing you can say with certainty is that almost nobody predicted the events of 2016! All those speakers who wind up at the various language industry events each year talking about the “Future of the Industry” are really offering a best guess without any solid evidence that trends will materialize or fade away.
In 2009, the well-known HSBC Bank had to invest $10 million in damage control after its "assume nothing" slogan was poorly translated as "do nothing" in several other countries. This example is all too common about the major financial effects of a wrong translation in business. Translation is an important concern when mergers or acquisitions take place.
When I speak with prospective clients I quite often hear the statement, “We have employees all over the world and they do the translations for us.”
I realize that most people still believe the Earth is being overpopulated and we are running out of resources. In reality, with the exception of the African continent, almost all other regions are either stable or experiencing population decline.1
Occasionally we have a need to find a new project manager, and we approach the task with a certain amount of trepidation. Casting the broad net of a Help Wanted ad brings in all types of prospects and depending on how you word the ad, the responses can be exactly what you were looking for, or completely miss the mark. So as we wax philosophical around the coffee pot, we attempted to determine if in fact, there were certain jobs or industries that made better project manager candidates.