ASLIB Knowledge Café

The Association for Information Management: Translating and the Computer Conference – 17 & 18 November 2011


What rules and laws need to be introduced by the translation profession in the light of machine translation and translation memory? How does the profession need to be redesigned/reinvented in the light of ethical challenges posed by technical developments in translation?

What are the ethical challenges?

  • Copyright issues
  • Intellectual property
  • Confidentiality
  • Deadlines
  • Quality management
  • Client considerations
  • Cooperation and relationship among peers

Is it ethical not to inform your client about leverage gained by using translation memory? It is not easy to define how much work is needed when leveraging previous texts. How do you account for the work you put into developing TM?  TM increases productivity, but there is an investment on the translator’s part to use TM.

Translation rates have not increased or are going down – increased productivity is crucial and is facilitated by the use of TM.

Confidentiality issue with Google Translate – the source and target texts become the property of Google and become public domain.

New professions are emerging: copywriters, pre-editor, post-editors, reviewers, TM managers, etc. Are they still a part of the translation profession? Are they translators specializing in these activities, or are they in a different profession? The group consensus is that we are all in the same industry (translation – here in the context of using TM and MT). Some professions are defined in EN 15038 (and similar standards) – but not the ones related to TM and MT. Same ethical rules apply to all.

No professional organizations have the power to impose rules or laws; they can make recommendations. For example, certifications or adherence to specific standards can be recommended. Also, Best Practices and Code of Ethics can be recommended by translator organizations.  Role of education: continued training (University of Geneva).

Action is needed by the translation profession (and/or other bodies?) to promote knowledge, to share insight into day-to-day practice, to make recommendations regarding best practices, etc.