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.