Hired for the heart

Many language professionals fear that their jobs will be taken over by artificial intelligence and machine translation, but the fact is that the language industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in the world and is projected to grow to USD 28.2 bn by 2022 according to The Slator Language Industry Market Report 2019, and the technological development enables new possibilities for language specialists around the globe.

Localised Web participated in this year’s School of Advanced Technologies for Translators (SATT19) to keep up to date with the latest translation technologies and status quo of the language industry. In this publication we share our insights and key takeaways.

Group photo at IULM during the day 1 with key note speakers.

The number of internet users increases by one million each day and today there are over 1.5 billion websites on the world wide web with less than 200 million active sites. According to the Sky is Rising report by the Copia Institute and CCIA:

”Rather than shrinking, the industry is growing. Rather than struggling, content creators are pushing out new content at an ever-increasing rate. We are living in a true era of content abundance, largely made possible by the internet”

How should language service providers and language professionals embrace this transition? SATT19 provided many good answers to this relevant question.

The demand for highly qualified language professionals is increasing, and the competence profile is changing with the fast-paced digital development and boom in consumer interest. Content creators compete in attracting the right target group and fight for click and conversion rates. Content is created with the consumer or user at the centre, and there is a growing need to connect with audiences in an authentic and engaging way.

The circumstances of the online marketplace and inherent conditions call for highly qualified linguists within different specialisations, such as search engine optimization (SEO), transcreation, subtitling and cultural awareness. The growing demand for compelling content that engages the audience adds new dimensions to the translator’s competence profile. The linguist is a cultural ambassador whose role is to create engaging content for the market of his or her expertise.

The content is no longer product oriented nor centred around the source text, but around the audience from a certain country or culture and their interests and preferences. The shift from product-oriented to customer-oriented content is not a new thing, but the high competition and fast-growing internet community makes content creation a high priority for international companies with online presence on different markets.

In line with the development of the online marketplace, the competitive translator of today is now also a transcreator, copy writer, subtitler and cultural ambassador. The practical work is a human-machine interaction that requires the translator to be skilled with many CAT tools and more emphasis is given on the translator’s ability to not only translate texts but also values, visions and brands. Translators are agents of empathy and cultural awareness that build connections through engaging content. At SATT19 Airbnb’s Head of Localization Salvatore Giammarresi referred to the book Thank you for being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations, that reflects on the technological development and the evolution of the competence profile in the age of accelerations; we used to hire people for their hands then for their heads and now we hire them for their heart, because hearts are the one human element machines can never possess.

SATT19

School of Advanced Technologies for Translators (SATT19) took place at IULM University in Milan, September 13-17, 2019. It’s organized by Fondazione Bruno Kessler and it was the 4th yearly event with the aim to reduce the gap between professional translators and current/future trends in the translation industry.

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