Out of the Rat Race Have we become too obsessed with speed?

Have we, as translators, software vendors, MT and CAT developers, become more obsessed with speed than with good writing?

Recently in a forum discussion about Slate, Mario Chavez (a Spanish technical translator) asked the question this way:

I wonder if we (translators, software vendors, MT and CAT developers) haven’t become more obsessed with speed than with good writing. Quality models as they are (ISO or non-ISO) can’t be applied or forced on writing. Writing is not coding or decoding.

Mario’s question made me stop and think. Why would someone comment about translation speed in a Slate discussion? After all, our advertising and descriptions don’t claim Slate speeds your work. He continued:

I stopped translating on speed pressures years ago. I prefer to translate fewer words per day than sacrifice the precious time I need to read the original and write a suitable sentence or paragraph. Sure, I don’t make as much money as before or as other guys claiming to make up to 10,000 words a day. I am absolutely not interested in becoming a cog and forgetting to enjoy what I do.

It’s about quality of life

I get it. Quality of life is more important than the rat race. Mario’s insights prompted me to consider, what creates the differences between what we say as speakers and what others hear as listeners? The speaker completes for the listener’s attention through a continuous undercurrent. Through that noise, the listener filters meaning and divines subtext that sometimes doesn’t exist.

Slate is not about speed over quality. It’s about efficiency. I dare say it’s a productivity tool but I think that term is woefully over-used. We’ve used the catch-phrase “finish more work in less time.” Maybe this inspires the subtext “working hastily” but that’s not what we mean.

You may have read the claims on our website that Slate has the potential to draft suggestions that you don’t need to change. These are called edit distance zero (ED0) segments. That’s important in this efficiency discussion. Every ED0 segment requires cognitive energy to read, judge and accept without the mechanics to type on a keyboard or speak into Dragon Dictate. Essentially, each ED0 segment represents pure proofreading without editing.

That’s the potential. Like many potentials, real life is often different. In practical terms, each translator finds his/her own personal balance regarding actual habits that work best. The work habits that Igor Goldfarb adopts might not be the same as those that Emma Goldsmith uses. Regardless of which tool you choose or how you use it, its only job is to get out of your way while you translate (paraphrase Ken Rockwell).

For most people, editing mechanics are slower than cognition. Returning to Mario’s commentary, you can continue working at your daily word rate and still finish more work per day, with your desired quality of life and without entering the post-editing rat race.

Evaluating Slate Desktop describes our recommended evaluation procedures to help you quickly (efficiently not speedily) determine if Slate is something you can learn to use and realize a benefit. By starting with these procedures, you’ll probably develop your own stride in using Slate, or you’ll ask for a refund.


Are there any ideas that you agree with? Any that you would add? Please add them to the comments box below!

If you enjoyed this post please do click LIKE. Click SHARE to share it with your network. Thank you!

If you enjoyed this post please take time to read some of my related posts below.

About the author: Tom Hoar is the Founder and Owner of Slate Rocks, LLC, a pioneer changing the translation ecosystem with software that empowers professionals make quality translations easier. With many years technology leadership and a tenacious passion providing technical support to professional translators, he’s become a true industry resource. Tom writes regular posts and blogs on translation technology. Tom is available for technology coaching, training, and keynote speaking. Check out his profile for more information.

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Please share what's on your mind.