Linguist Spotlight: The Future of Translation - Multilingual Connections

Linguist Spotlight: Our Changing Industry

Our Changing Industry
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Topic: Our Talent


Five linguists recount their most interesting projects of 2021 and give their perspectives on the future of the localization industry.

Meet David, Rebeca, Nicole, Elisabeth, and Romina

 David has been working with Multilingual Connections since 2019. He works on subtitling projects for multiple language pairs.

Rebeca has been working with Multilingual Connections since 2014. She’s worked on a variety of projects related to law enforcement, DCFS, Covid-19, textbooks, personal documents (birth/marriage certificates, medical records and school transcripts)—in Rebeca’s words, “everything under the sun.”

Nicole has been working with Multilingual Connections since 2019. She works in the language pair of Latin American Spanish and English in projects across different industries, mainly transcription and translation of legal content, software localization and transcreation.

Elisabeth has been working with Multilingual Connections since 2017. She primarily translates French to English documents for law firms and corporations.

Romina has been working with Multilingual Connections since 2019. Her work consists of editing and proofreading for EN>ES law enforcement projects.

What is the most interesting/difficult project you have worked on in 2021? Why was it interesting or difficult?

 David: Every project is interesting and unique but some of my most challenging projects involved “Right to Left” Languages. Sometimes we had to go back and forth with the project managers multiple times before settling on what works best.

Rebeca: I worked on a project about raising railroad crossings above ground to avoid accidents and relieve traffic. It was interesting because I hadn’t thought about this aspect of city planning, especially the research that goes into every crossing and the possibilities available to improve safety and flow. This project was challenging because there was a lot of terminology regarding civil engineering and railroads that I wasn’t previously familiar with. I was in luck, though, because I love to do research! 

Nicole: This year I worked on song translations, which required a lot of focus and creativity as it essentially meant rewriting lyrics and rhymes so that they would sound good in Spanish while set to the same music used for English lyrics. I have always enjoyed puzzles and, in a way, translating songs is like solving a puzzle by exploring multiple possible word combinations to find the ones that work best.

Elisabeth:  I have a terrible short-term memory when it comes to remembering all the projects I’ve worked on, but it has been very interesting branching out into both English & French subtitling this year, particularly working on videos for the Chicago school board and getting insight into some of the work being done in academia to accommodate and celebrate bilingualism in students.

Romina: The most difficult project I faced in 2021 was one for Women’s Day on March 8. I was exposed to stories of violence against women for a project meant to transform our approach to these kinds of subjects. In the aftermath of the job, I felt better able to focus on texts that emphasized the inner strength of women and their courage to overcome obstacles.

How is the translation industry changing? What trends are shaping the way you approach your work?

David: The translation industry is changing rapidly with the rise of A.I.-powered tools that do the heavy lifting. This has shaped the way content is produced and delivered, making content accessible to more people. With these tools, my approach has become broader; no one is limited to what they can achieve.

Rebeca: With CAT tools, I’m getting more editing/proofreading work than translation work, and payment per word is going down drastically across the industry. Soon it won’t be sustainable to work as a freelance translator, so I’ll have to consider going back to a salaried position in a large corporation or tap into medical interpreting, which is very much in-demand now, but it would be a lifestyle change. I’ll miss the vitality of my work and the freedom to travel I enjoy now.

Nicole: In recent years, I have noticed considerable growth in the fields of localization and transcreation as well as an increase in the importance given to adapting content to specific regions or locales. A translator should always keep the target audience front and center, of course, but in many industries—entertainment, marketing, and software, for example—it has become essential to have a greater awareness of cultural nuances and a thorough understanding of audiences in order to fully center translations on them. This has also been accompanied by a deeper (and welcomed!) focus on inclusivity and diversity as part of the translation process and within the translation industry overall.

Elisabeth: There’s been a significant jump in AI-powered technologies for both document and audio translation. Adapting to the different types of projects and working methods that AI requires has been an interesting challenge, in addition to proofing a computer’s idea of translation with an eye towards understanding and improving its ‘thought process’ and helping it learn the intricacies of a given language. The process is completely different from manual translation.

Romina: New tendencies demand “localizing” translations, which demands that one must specialize in sociolinguistic peculiarities when translating a text that is issued by one segment and intended for another. The mission consists of being faithful to the values, uses and customs of the issuers and making them accessible to the receivers. This new way of approaching translation work broadens the social bases of our work and involves very rich and exploitable cultural issues. My collaboration with Multilingual Connections has given me the opportunity to increase my experience in this area.

What are your thoughts on the future of the localization industry? Post them on LinkedIn and tag Multilingual Connections, we look forward to reading them!

Want to stay connected?

We periodically share news and updates around translation, language and culture. Rest assured we’ll never share your contact information with anyone!