Trados and similar software, friend or foe?

I am quite positive that the good folks that created translation productivity software were thinking of helping translators when this type of software was created.

Rather unfortunately, Trados and company have, more often than not, become an expensive diversion that has reduced translator income, and sometimes, increases the work done.

Translation productivity software, among other things, is used by clients to demand lower rates for repetitions.

I do understand that it might be frustrating for clients to pay good money for repetition. Yet, Trados and company have not thought of a way to remunerate translators for researching terms, which sometimes can take quite a few minutes, even with the internet!  Thus the easy repetition compensates the time spent conducting research.

Additionally, translation memory, rather than becoming property of the translator, becomes the client’s property in most cases, who can actually assign future versions of the assignment to another – you guessed – cheaper translator. And there are plenty out there.

Thus, quite often a translator who worked very hard – and long hours – to put together a workable memory for a lengthy manual, might not reap the benefits of the “easier” update.

It comes with the territory, you might say.

There is more.

Quite a lot of translation companies actually use Trados and company to decrease the pay to translators, yet, bill their clients full rate, without any reduction for repetitions.

Thus it is obvious that translation productivity software has by and large become more foe than friend.

What to do?

Pretty much, nothing. The software is here to stay, becoming more prevalent as we speak. It does not work with paper documents, or poor pdf conversions, which might be one of the last niches where translators can command decent rates.

Sure, translators could refuse to work on such platforms, but the reality is, this will not happen.

I actually had a client proposing to pay me something like $0.50 for a short document with a high degree of repetition. Bad times might lie ahead.

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