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    Barbara Inge Karsch - Terminology Consulting and Training

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ATA impressions

Posted by Barbara Inge Karsch on November 22, 2011

Microsoft ClipArt

I have traveled quite a bit during the last four weeks and it is high time for an update. Let me start with a review of yet another great conference of the American Translators Association in Boston.

At last year’s ATA conference in Denver, I was still stunned because the Association still seemed to catch up with technology and the opportunity to embrace machine translation. This year, I saw something completely differently. Mike Dillinger gave a well attended, entertaining and educational seminar on machine translation. He certainly lived up to his promise of showing “what the translator’s role is in this new business model.”

It was so clear that editing for MT is a market segment on the rise, if not during Mike’s seminar, then during Laurie Gerber’s presentation on the specifics of editing machine translation output. She also shared tips on how to educate “over-optimistic clients”. You add to that Jost Zetzsche’s presentation on dealing with that flood of data, and the puzzle pieces start forming a picture of new skills and new jobs.

Microsoft ClipArtJost’s presentation is very much in line with an article by Detlef Reineke and Christian Galinski in eDITion, the publication of the German Terminology Association, DTT, about the flood of terminology in our future (“Vor uns die Terminologieflut”). To stem the flood, it helps to think of “data,” as Jost did, rather than texts, documents or even segments. He also declared the glossary outdated and announced a bright future for terminology databases. To think about texts, documents, segments, concepts and terms as data is helpful in the sense that data along with solid corresponding metadata have a higher reuse value, if you will, than unmanaged translation memories or the final translation product. That has been terminologists’ message for a long time.

I also attended sessions on translation education, one by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and one by New York University. Since I will be working with the Translation Center of the University of Illinois on a small research project and am currently preparing the online terminology course that will be part of the M.S. at NYU starting this spring, it was nice to meet my colleagues in person.


2 Responses to “ATA impressions”

  1. John Kohl said

    Hi Barbara,
    This was interesting because I rarely hear much about what goes on at ATA. When you say that “editing for MT is … on the rise,” do you mean editing the SOURCE text to make it more suitable for MT? Because then you relate that to Laurie’s presentation on editing MT output (i.e., post-editing), which is not the same thing. I am interested in both, but am especially interested in any news indicating that the former is on the rise.

    BTW, Mike was one of the principal reviewers of my book, The Global English Style Guide, so I know he is an expert an editing source texts for MT (though I’m sure he also knows a lot about post-editing). He gave me a huge amount of very useful input and feedback. I have known Laurie for decades, too (through AMTA), and I am a big fan of both of them!

    Glad to hear that you are involved with the Translation Center at UIUC! I have heard a little about that since I am a UIUC alumnus. (I got my M.A. in Teaching ESL there in 1989.)

    Best regards,


    • Good question, John: I am referring to post-editing. But I am hoping that one day “pre-editing” will gain more traction and be used in more environments. I think that is why, subconsciously, I might have chosen to say “editing,” and I have decided to not fix it in the text…maybe we can speak it into reality:-).

      I asked Mike during his seminar about his experience with “writing for MT” and he rolled his eyes. So, he, too, would hope that this gains in importance, but based on his and my own experience it is still a hard sell in many environments.

      Aha, I will go to UIUC later on this week with different eyes, knowing that it is your alma mater. Interestingly, it is for a little research project with Jost Zetzsche that might involve MT.


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