Most posts on my blog have a relatively short lifespan. People read them for a few days or weeks and after that, somebody may be sent once in a while to an old post on my blog by Google. That’s about it.
But some of my posts do have a staying power and live for quite a while. The most successful post that I have written in terms of eyeball exposure was “Translation Dementia (TD) – What It Is and How to Recognize the Signs”. I wrote it in April of this year and as of now it had about 10,500 views. When it was new, 2,423 people viewed it in a single day, which is a record for me so far. Even at this point, hundreds of people view it every month.
I am not that surprised by its popularity because quite a few people told me in comments and in person that they found this post to be an accurate and funny description of themselves or people they know. Muses must have been kissing me (modestly, on my forehead) when I was identifying this relatively new neurodegenerative disorder affecting so many translators.
But I am somewhat surprised by the continuing popularity of another post I wrote more than 2 years ago in July of 2010, which I called “Friends Don’t Let Friends Use Trados or Any Other Translation Memory Tools”. In fact, this post, which unlike my post about TD is not really meant to be funny, is now more popular than when it was new. Here is a summary of the views of the post since I published it:
It is clear to me that translators continue to be interested in this subject. And for good reason. Allow me to draw a parallel here between genetically modified food and computer assisted translation (CAT), namely translations which were processed with CAT tools such as Trados.
Because large corporations rule at this point my country without even a single timid sign of opposition from Democrats or Republicans, we don’t even have the right to know which food that we are eating ourselves and feeding our children has been modified with genetic engineering. Laws in 50 other countries, including EC countries and Russia, stipulate that genetically modified food must be identified as such. The law in the United States stipulates at this time that food must not be identified as such.
Why do they want to keep us uninformed? Take a wild guess.
That is why voters in California have on the ballot Proposition 37 which aims to reverse this sad state of affairs. I don’t really care whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney will be the next president because I don’t see any meaningful difference between them. But I am really curious whether Proposition 37 in California will pass. If it does not pass, it will mean to me that unlike people in 50 other countries, people in California are so dumb (because have been brainwashed by hundreds of commercials on TV from corporations like Monsanto) that they don’t even want to have the power to control the food they eat and feed their children.
If voters in California fail to wrestle control over this issue back from Monsanto, well, do they control anything at all at this point?
I see similarities between the efforts of agricultural behemoths which force farmers to sign agreements prohibiting them from storing and using their own seeds to cultivate their own products rather than genetically modified seeds sold to farmers by Monsanto, and the efforts on the part of some translation agencies to control translators such as myself through contracts designed to force “freelance translators” to use specific computer assisted translation tools, usually Trados.
The reason for this is the same as in the case of Monsanto – to maximize the profit at all costs. Just because an agency pays a fraction for “fuzzy matches” in your translation does not mean that they pass on the savings to the customer. Most of the time they probably don’t.
I don’t really know whether and to what extent genetically modified food is harmful to people who eat it. But I do have a bad feeling about it, and since it could be harmful, this information should not be withheld from consumers in a democratic country.
From the feedback that I’ve had to my posts about CATs, I think that computer assisted translation tools are probably very useful for some types of translations, for example for translating highly repetitive manuals, although I do believe that these tools are basically useless to patent translators like me.
Translation agencies are now trying to control through their contracts with translators ownership of the terminology (intellectual property) used by the translators in their translations, which is stored in memory tools that the translators are forced to use.
The comparison to Monsanto’s ownership of seeds that must be purchased over and over again by farmers who fell for the promise of greater yields is in my opinion not too farfetched.
I think that if translators fail to exercise control over whether they decide on their own which computer assisted tools, if any, they want to use, and agree to accept only a fraction of their normal rate for “matches” and “fuzzy matches” identified by a software package that they are forced to use, they will be exploited to no ends by translation agencies who will control the translation market the way companies like Monsanto are at this point ruthlessly controlling the food market in India, the United States and other countries.