The development of the Internet, the explosion in bandwidth and the massive development of related software tools over the last few years have taken translation and localisation to dizzy heights of necessary expertise… while the vast majority of language graduates and undergraduates are still a long way from the ground-level reality of what these new technologies require in terms of translation (I use the term loosely).

There was a time when 2 languages and a typewriter would suffice.

Many still believe that 2 languages and a computer will do the job. But when a client requires translation of their specialised Rich Media website with Flash videos in PHP containers and SMIL captions rendered in 11 languages with time-coded voiceovers (some dubbed, some phrase-synced) and subtitles (some optional & some embedded), to begin with… requiring a dozen separate software programmes and formats to handle with the highest mutual conversion fidelity and lowest manageable margin of error, not to mention the essential project directives to the individual translators… Let’s face it, your Vista + Word just ain’t up to it any more.

But the technology involved is not the main stumbling block. That is the personnel: translators specialised in audio/video/multimedia techniques (or Audio/Video/Multimedia engineers specialised in translation/localisation) are hard to come by, despite this being perhaps the sector of both industries with the highest growth potential.

The role of translation project manager, too, traditionally the logical next career step for an experienced in-house translator, requires new scope, responsibility and expertise as the field of localisation itself grows.

To the point, perhaps, that multi-faceted localisation management will require engineer-level training and status. Is that what translators want?

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