Saturday, November 28, 2009

Productivity Prediction and Google Translate

The slide show in my previous posting ends with a quote from the "Visionary's Handbook" by Wacker & Taylor, which says that “The closer your vision gets to a provable future, the more your are simply describing the present. In the same way, the more certain you are of a future outcome, the more likely you will be wrong.”

One of my most controversial predictions at the ATA Presentation was that in the future, translator productivity would be measured in tens of thousands of words. Looks like the authors of the book were right: I was just describing the present. In fact, I received an e-mail from SDL today promoting a quote by my friend Marian Greenfield that she did over thirty thousand words in ten hours of work, thanks to the features of her translation tool of choice.

The e-mail advertisement states:

34,501 words. 10 hours. One translator.
Sound impossible?

"I just completed a 34,501 word project in 10 hours thanks to AutoSuggest™, Context Match and the other nifty time-saving features within SDL Trados Studio 2009 SP1. That’s without having much of anything in the pre-existing TM!" Marian Greenfield, Translator and Trainer

There you have it. It is possible. And that is only the beginning.

And since we are at it, have you played with the new interface of Google Translate? It shows the translation as you type the original in the translate box. It's really cool to see how the translation changes as you add words, and therefore context, to the sentence. And if you translate from a foreign language into English, you can actually hear the translated sentence by clicking the sound icon next to the translation. How cool is that?

Last week I met with the Program Managers for Google Translate and Google Translator Toolkit and learned about some features that are coming up. I predict that in less than six months Google Translator Toolkit will be a perfectly functional tool that can be integrated into an LSPs Translation Management System. Play with it and get used to it... that's my recommendation.


  1. Luigi,

    Knowing Marian, I would say that the quality was excellent! Quality is not an issue when we talk about productivity. You can be productive and have excellent quality, as you can be very conscientious and still provide bad quality. Quality and and speed are not enemies if you are an expert in your field.

  2. A very interesting post Renato. Productivity is one of my priorities and every tip to increase it counts!

  3. Cookie5:24 PM

    Aren't you guys afraid to sink yourselves and your businesses by broadcasting to clients that translation can be done by some button clicks? Automation might be convenient and time saving, but our profession will suffer from it in the end.