I’ve always been an early adopter, in fact I bought my first, very primitive computer when Windows was still in black and white with no pictures and nobody had the internet. Never afraid to have a go, I temped in London for years, which meant learning to use different computer systems and programmes every week as I hopped from bank to bank and company to company, slotting into the workforce as seamlessly as possible as I covered people on holiday, maternity leave, jury service… however recently a sinking feeling appears inside me when I receive jobs from certain agencies, with the certainty that, yet again, I am going to have to grapple with yet another translation programme.
Technology has taken over the translation industry, challenging even the most tech-savvy of translators. When accepting or rejecting a text for translation, as well as assessing the content and whether it is within your area of expertise, you also have to consider the technical characteristics of the job and make up your mind whether the time you will have to spend finding, downloading, installing, registering, logging into and trying to master yet another piece of translation software is really worthwhile. Oh! and I forgot encryption! I have one client who makes me take screenshots of my computer before and after a job to ensure that I have encrypted everything and that it has all been deleted when I have finished.
If you decide to go ahead in the hope that the customer will be a regular one and that all that extra effort will eventually pay dividends, you will find that proprietary software used by banks and translation agencies is extremely user unfriendly, and a small job that would usually take 20 minutes drags into an hour as you try to work out the keyboard shortcut for save-open-next rather than focusing on the text.
But the truth is, like it or not, if you want to work in languages services, you have to be ready and willing to spend a lot of time setting up software, opening accounts and managing passwords and other ‘things’. By ‘things’ I mean all the other mysterious credentials you need log in and use these programmes. One recent nightmare of proprietary application required not only a username and password, but also a ‘tenancy’ and a ‘token’ to access and use the memory. Am I the only person who is starting to feel more than a flutter of dread when an email pops into the inbox?
Writer: Juliet Allaway