Why translation agencies exist and what the future holds for them
With today's post we are starting a blog series on our website which will let you take a look behind the scenes of the language industry.
As a translation agency with a tradition since the noughties (we have been operating under the new brand, Explika, since 2022), we encounter a variety of requests every day and have to be prepared to address the truly diverse needs of our customers. Often we come across somewhat distorted or unrealistic ideas about how an agency (or translation in general) works.
There are many myths about translations circulating among the general public, and debunking them and setting the record straight is also one of the objectives of this series. Let's start from the very beginning and look at why translation agencies or language service providers (LSPs) actually work, what their added value is and why it makes sense to use their services.
So what are translation agencies for?
Translation agencies are not just intermediaries between clients, i.e. those interested in translation and related services, and translators, i.e. professionals who provide these services. Their purpose and added value lies above all in their know-how. This may vary depending on the specialisation of each LSP, the markets in which they operate and the tools they use. Especially in larger markets, there are highly specialised agencies that focus only on medical texts, for example.
Explika does not have a narrow focus, but works with hundreds of different translators who do. We can therefore provide you with translations from a variety of disciplines and into dozens of European as well as non-European languages. The core of our business is, of course, (Central) European languages, but our clients also like to come back to us because we have their backs when it comes to translations from and into more exotic languages such as Irish, Tigrinya or Mandinka.
However, quality LSPs have at least one thing in common: they work with proven and professional translators whose services they guarantee. So the risk of making the wrong choice when looking for a supplier drops dramatically when you rely on a professional LSP. Client care is a necessity in the service industry. However, at Explika we also pay considerable attention to taking care of our translators. Maintaining an up-to-date database allows us to speed up processing and delivery times, while testing and training of our translators, together with the professional work of our project managers, guarantees consistently high quality.
Are we in for a machine revolt?
Anyone who is professionally involved in any field that has to do with technological development must keep an eye on current trends and react to what they bring. This also applies to the translation industry. Nowadays, there are only a handful of foolish old-timers left who still turn a blind eye to the technological advances of recent years. Let's leave aside the various software tools that make life easier for translators and project managers when translating, running quality checks or keeping track of translation orders. The main draw of the last few years has been machine translation.
Its quality is rapidly advancing, and the question arises whether translators and translation agencies (and it should be noted that there are not many of them on our small Czech market) have a future, and if so, what kind of future. The short answer is: they do, and a big one. Machine translation tools (especially Google Translate and the increasingly popular DeepL) are a great tool when you need to quickly understand a text, when you need an approximate, imperfect translation, or when you use their output in private correspondence or for other "unimportant" purposes.
The fact that machine translation (and, more recently, artificial intelligence) will gradually displace human translators has been talked about in the field and beyond for years. However, it seems more likely that the development of machine translation is (post)leading to a redrawing of the map of our industry, changes in product offerings (such as the increasingly popular post-editing of machine translation) and pricing. But the human factor cannot yet, and will not for a very long time, be completely removed from the equation. Whether you need to create a decent web presence in a new language, impress your business partners, present your research results in a foreign journal, accurately translate a machine manual your company has produced for a foreign client, or simply want to make sure you get a quality return on your materials, you simply can't do without a professional translator.
You will learn more about why such a translator should really be professional and why "the girl next door who took German in high school" is usually not enough in the next post.