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Intellectual property and the use of translation tools

General

Just a few months ago, during the ALC conference in Washington DC, I had the opportunity to meet a translator who set me an interesting topic. “My translation is only mine,” that is to say that she raised her point of view on the copyrights of translators, on their work, and that translation of a text into another language should be considered a unique work.

The impact of copyright on the work of translators is a topic that has been discussed and debated a lot around the world. I recommend a very detailed article on this subject: https://translationjournal.net/journal/33copyright.htm

Anyway, the point that caught my attention from this translator was her war against CAT tools and any program that allows the reuse of translation memories. At first, I understood, or pretended to assume, that it was related to her position of copyright of translation content, but then I understood that her position was related to the tools itself. I was also struck by how the use of translation memories often resulted in a bad reuse of translations.

A translation that was created for a particular text, with a particular context, can be misused if the context is understood in the same way. That worried and affected her. Additionally, she told me directly. “… Why do you use translation programs? … you shouldn’t do it…” Then she went silent waiting for my reply…

This statement left me frozen, 😊. I’m passionate about new technologies, and someone really telling me they don’t like technological advances really makes me think. But what made me think is that, maybe, there are people who find their way of working, it gives them good results, and they are not obliged to adopt every single change the industry imposes many times.

It is logical that all changes in work structures will break or modify what has been done for many years. The break-in of translation tools is not something new. You’re not reading an article from 1995 but from July 2019. Therefore, we have to be realistic about this, CAT Tools, exist and have enabled the translation market to expand and have greatly facilitated the translator’s work itself.

Of course, not everyone sees the world from the same place. That’s a positive thing. The talk with this colleague made me think about the way we take everything for granted, and people who work in the industry since pre-cat tools have a vision that we don’t have.

Every week I will share experiences and thoughts so that we can discuss and generate enriching ideas for our community.