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The Impact of Freelance Translators on MT – and Vice Versa
Posted by Stephen Henderson on October 28, 2016  in the following blogs: Technology, Translation and Localization
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Freelancers sit at the front lines of translation production. Their views on machine translation (MT) have a direct effect on any organization’s ability to deploy solutions. They can make or break initiatives to leverage the technology.

In January and February of 2016, CSA Research surveyed 228 freelance linguists to understand their attitudes toward and use of machine translation. We continued our analysis of MT in the industry and recently published “How Translators’ Perception of MT Affects Deployments,” a continuation of our recent MT research on corporate and LSP use of the technology.

Professional linguists from 54 countries answered the survey and provided us with detailed information and data. The linguists in our sample came with varied experience, most having more than five years of experience in the profession, and some having been practicing for just a year or two.

From the data we gathered, CSA Research was able to gauge the freelancers’ perception of machine translation and how it affects the industry overall. We found the following points to be particularly interesting:

  • The freelancers in our sample are generally confident that MT will not replace them anytime soon. On the other hand, about 15% believe that MT represents the end of the profession.

  • Demand for post-editing MT output is growing. Our respondents notice a growing number of projects in the area. While the demand isn’t as steady, the service has reached its highest share of the market in the last four years. Based on our demand-side survey of corporate translation executives earlier this year, CSA Research predicts that PEMT will grow considerably over the next three years.

  • Linguists find value in MT to support their translation activity. Freelancers described the different ways they use machine translation in their projects, and how frequently they choose to use the tool in their work. Engines used by our sample ranged from free online tools to commercial solutions.

  • MT output is getting better. Our sample provided us with insight about changes over the last few years. Though not all agreed, nearly half of respondents noted improvements in MT in the last three years.
How freelance linguists feel MT affects their profession has an impact on the entire language industry because they play a critical role across the spectrum of translation services. As a result, MT technology vendors, language service providers, and corporate buyers need to take an active role in creating buy-in to take on such tasks, developing the talent, and providing support through the process. In our research, we address six steps for LSPs and in-house teams to assist their freelancers in working with MT.


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Related Research
MT’s Journey to the Enterprise
Post-Editing Goes Mainstream
The Language Services Market: 2016
How Translators’ Perception of MT Affects Deployments
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