Friday, May 20, 2011

Would You Like Some Fries With Your 6,000 Words a Day?

Is this the future of the translation industry?:

The other aspect of the problem is the long-term increase in technology-driven unemployment, largely owing to automation. In one way, this is a sign of economic progress: the output of each unit of labor is constantly rising. But it also means that less units of labor are needed to produce the same quantity of goods.

The market’s solution is to re-deploy displaced labor to services. But many branches of the service sector are a sink of dead-end, no-hope jobs.

The quote is from a recent column by Keynes biographer Lord Robert Skidelsky. The question as to whether this depicts a likely path for the translation sector is not motivated by the automation issue, which, as I maintain over and over, is overblown by compromised pundits and “the-sky-is-falling” Chicken Littles. On the contrary, the real question is whether translation, a service industry in general, is becoming or will become a McJob.

Ultimately, this is a question not for collective action or high-minded intellectual discussion but rather a function of your individual approach toward the market. Are you swimming upstream to provide greater added value? Are you finding a comfy niche with hefty profit margins? Or are you taking that post-editor shortcut?

If the latter, begin by practicing: “Would you like some fries with those 6,000 words?”

Miguel Llorens is a freelance financial translator based in Madrid who works from Spanish into English. He is specialized in equity research, economics, accounting, and investment strategy. He has worked as a translator for Goldman Sachs, the US Government's Open Source Center and H.B.O. International, as well as many small-and-medium-sized brokerages and asset management companies operating in SpainTo contact him, visit his website and write to the address listed there. Feel free to join his LinkedIn network or to follow him on Twitter.

1 comment:

atenea said...

Great entry! Sharp and to the point, two qualities I truly appreciate when reading blogs.