The online translation community is abuzz with the news that Google has announced the start of a Google Translation Center. The discussion revolves around two main questions: how exactly the service will work and how having an Internet giant like Google providing a platform for translation services will affect freelance translators’ business.
How Will Google’s Service Work?
Clients will be able to upload the documents they need translated and then choose from the price quotes that individual translators will provide. Translators will use Google’s web-based tools to create and review translations and the “Translator’s Workbench” will provide translators with tools such as a revision history, a glossary, or a history of previous translations. Google, at least as currently explained, will simply serve as a middleman, coordinating services and providing the platform and tools for clients and translators alike.
Throughout the preliminary discussions, one topic on which everyone still seems unclear is that of Translation Memory (refer to previous Transpanish posts for an intro to TM here and here) and how Google will implement it. It seems that Google wants to create a meta-TM through which individual translators will have access to all similar translations previously inputted into the system. This raises the question of ownership (clients usually own the rights to translations input into TM, as they’ve paid for the translations) and quality of what is uploaded into the global TM (Google states that individual translators will be solely responsible for quality control of what they produce).
How Will the Service Affect Freelance Translators?
Since Google has not yet unrolled its Beta version, professional translators can only speculate on the effect that Google Translation Center will have on their business. On the Proz Forum discussion of this topic, translators are understandably concerned about the quality of the output, especially since creating a solid, accurate TM takes time as texts are translated and fed into the system.
Google Blogoscoped offers a preliminary analysis of the service’s features and included screenshots of the tools that GTC will offer to the translator. Access to these free tools (questions about the TM aside) could be very good news for freelancers and GTC may very well open up a world of freelance gigs to professional translators. However, freelancers are concerned about whether potential clients will be willing to pay market rates for translations when looking for a translator on GTC.
Of course, the online translation community can only speculate on GTC’s effects on the translation industry until the service is actually rolled out.
To read more commentary on the service, read Brian McConnell’s blog post, “GTC: The World’s Largest Translation Memory.”