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Social Media Is Changing Translation

Texting on a keyboard phone

Image via Wikipedia

By Mari D. González

Keynote speaker Jaap van der Meer, TAUS  Director, addressed “Translation in the 21st Century” at the 2011 FIT World Congress in San Francisco.

Jaap spoke about the changes to and implications of the translation process as new translation technologies and online communication become more prevalent and accessible. He emphasized that translation is one of the basic needs of human civilization, thus we need the help of computers.

Topics and questions Jaap discussed include:

  • Translation companies, like other businesses, are in need of a new strategy.
  • How do incoming text messages get translated?
  • Does “one translation fits all” still apply?
  • The consumer is involved by asking and getting responses from each other.
  • Translations are being supplemented with volunteers or done via “crowdsourcing,” in which a project is “outsourced to the crowd.” People respond to an open invitation to collaborate and work as one community. Facebook crowd sourced the translation of its page to different languages.

Jaap concluded that the “top-down globalization, export mentalityis phasing out.” Translating is no longer a requirement fulfilled by an individual or a specialized team. The new translation process is CIRCULAR, on going, customized, and user driven.

As a result, companies have to take notice of the end user who is generating content, contributing, translating, and adding new vocabulary.