Riding The Wave Of Technological Change As A Translator

Technological change has become a hot topic throughout the translation industry. Earlier this year in the UK, the ITI Conference inspired us to “Renew, Rejuvenate, Regenerate” in an evolving world. The upcoming tri-national conference TriKonf 2015 (Freiburg, 9-11 Oct.) will be held under the motto “Tuning the Machine.” And the 56th ATA Conference (Miami, 4-7 Nov.) will be devoting a number of sessions to machine translation, post-editing, and cloud-based applications for translators.

Of course, technological change is nothing new. The only thing that is new is the speed at which it is now happening. And as technology continues to improve at an exponential rate across industries, change is likely to become more and more frequent in most aspects of our lives. Paradoxically, while the aim of technological change is to improve efficiency and productivity, the very speed at which new solutions are released could have a detrimental effect on our performance.

Change specialist William Bridges likes to compare the human side of change, which he calls transition, to body surfing — you catch a wave and let it carry you towards the beach; you stand up, rearrange your hair, catch your breath and turn to be hit unexpectedly by another wave. You take a tumble in the water, get disoriented, manage to stand up again and, before you get a chance to catch your breath, another wave hits you. With each new wave, standing up becomes more difficult. Bridges calls this a “transition deficit.” Before you get a chance to fully process one transition, another change (or wave) hits you, and soon enough you start feeling drained and confused. Sounds familiar?

The solution to this problem is two-fold:

  • Anticipate changes
  • Manage transitions

Anticipating changes means keeping an eye on the latest trends in our industry, which is a relatively easy thing to do with today’s access to social media and the great number of translation communities, blogs, and magazines available online. Transition management, however, can be a little trickier. It means that you will need to learn about the change process itself, i.e. the different phases you are likely to go through and their impact on you. It also requires a certain amount of personal and professional development.

According to Bridges, transitions follow three phases.

  1. The first phase is known as the Ending. Different people react differently to endings, and the first step in managing change is to accept that something has to end before something new can begin.
  2. The second phase is called the Neutral Zone. It is the confusing time during which the old way of doing things no longer exists and the new way isn’t firmly established yet. It is also a great time to be creative, as old rules no longer apply and new ones need to be forged. Those who do well during this phase are generally the ones who find ways to remain in control of their situation, understand the transition process, can rely on a good support system, and have a clear sense of direction.
  3. Finally, the third phase is called the New Beginning. It is a time when people grow familiar with their new reality and integrate the new way of doing things.

Offered in partnership with eCPD Webinars, a provider of high-quality online training videos and courses for translators and interpreters, the Future-Proof Translator webinar series has been developed with all of this in mind. Its aim is to equip translators with a better understanding of both the technological changes they are facing today and the transition process itself, with its different phases. The webinars are designed to empower translators to ride the wave of technological change with confidence, whatever their ambitions. Participants will learn how to adapt to change more effectively in order to grow both personally and professionally, and push their business forward. For a full description of the course, please visit the www.thefutureprooftranslator.com.


The opinions and perspectives presented in this article are those of the contributing author and do not necessarily represent the views of Slator. Slator does not necessarily promote or have a connection with the events, organizations, people, and other legal entities mentioned in this article.