Don’t Babel – Don’t Crowd-Source – Don’t Call Yourself a Professional If All You Do is McTranslate

Further to our Facebook and Twitter posts about Unbabel, the latest entry in the “let’s swarm over the devastated battlefield of the translation profession and see if we can pick a few pockets before the corpses get too ripe” competition, we were delighted to be alerted to “Do Not Translate Medium: An Open Letter to My Friends @Medium from a Translator Without Pants,” Dmitry Kornykhov’s excellent post on why “crowdsourcing” isn’t professional translation.

Not only isn’t it professional, it isn’t even really translation. What it is, generally, is word-substitution. 

If your “work” as a translator is limited to, or depends heavily upon, participation in crowd-sourcing endeavors, you are not a professional translator. And that’s just fine.

A lot of people have removed splinters, successfully contested a parking ticket, or fixed a leaky faucet on their own. The difference is that we don’t call them professional surgeons, lawyers, or plumbers.

But, as Kornykhov explains so clearly, your dot.com overlords won’t be selling your exploited labor in that way. Instead, they’ll be crowing about all the “professional” translators they have at their disposal.

Disposal: As in that handy household gadget that grinds garbage into tiny pieces and flushes it down the sewer.

Print this out and paste it above your computer monitor. Crowd-sourcing = not a real translation. Artificial intelligence = we pay translators shite.

Services like Unbabel hurt translators, cheat clients, and contribute to the sea of word-salad that passes for meaningful language on thousands of institutional and private-business sites.

As Kornykhov says:

The number of professional translators who are willing to work for $6 an hour equals: ZERO.

In fairness, Unbabel offers $8. If you’re translating for peanuts of that kind, please take your computer out and drown it. You both need to be put out of your misery.

Unbabel offers an online translation service that combines Artificial Intelligence with Crowd Post-Editing, to provide seamless translation.

About No Peanuts! for Translators

No Peanuts! supports professional translators & interpreters in demanding & receiving fair pay for their work.
This entry was posted in Resistance, Respect and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Don’t Babel – Don’t Crowd-Source – Don’t Call Yourself a Professional If All You Do is McTranslate

  1. I like to refer to this process as Language Transformation, and language transformation is most certainly not a translation. Language Transformation (done by unskilled “translators” or the algorithm that is very mistakenly called “machine translation”) is much like the couple of sentences at the back of a tourist guide. The fact that one can recites a certain sentence without really understanding the language, doesn’t mean that one can now converse in that language, even at a rudimentary level.

    Professional Translation Practitioners (i.e. real translators) are professionals just like in any other profession, and the same definitions apply. They will not participate in degrading, borderline fraudulent platforms and initiatives that show genuine disrespect and contempt to the profession.

  2. “Unbabel offers an online translation service that combines Artificial Intelligence with Crowd Post-Editing, to provide seamless translation.”

    How the hell can they use the word ‘seamless’? Must be because they like the sound of it. Because ‘seamless’ a translation can’t be if translated by who knows how many “translators” and then pieced together like a patchwork quilt, which is what happens with large jobs. If they’re offering those rates I seriously doubt there’s any proper quality control before they’re shipped off to the unwary client.

No Peanuts! doesn't pretend to be a representative democracy. We don't publish comments that denigrate our movement, attack our writers, or show disrespect for translators. All comments must be signed with first/last name and include a verifiable email address.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s