Podcast with CdT

Our new Director, Ildikó Horváth, features in the latest interview on memoQ talks, the podcast series organised by memoQ Translation Technologies. 

The purpose of memoQ talks is to interview industry leaders to find out about their experiences, important lessons learned and what works best across all areas of localisation. In Episode #14, it invited Ildikó Horváth, who has been the Centre’s Director since February this year (see our article).

In this interview, lldikó presented the Translation Centre in a nutshell and focused on the Centre’s transformation plan that was recently implemented to enlarge the portfolio of language services and optimise the technologies behind these. ‘We try to provide bespoke or tailor-made services adapted to the multilingual needs of our clients’, she said. 

When asked about how the translation work is organised, she explained that over half of the 200 staff members are translators. They are divided into 24 language groups made up of 4 to 9 people. 80% of the translation volume is outsourced to external language service providers. In-house translators revise the externalised translations and those done by their colleagues in-house, applying the so-called ‘four-eyes principle’ that is in place at the Centre to guarantee optimal quality.

If freelancers are interested in working with the Centre, they should participate in the calls for tender as they are the first step to becoming an external language service provider for the Centre. The second option is to work under specific contracts, for which there is an application form on the Centre’s website. This may be particularly interesting for language combinations not covered by framework contracts and for translations into non-EU languages.

Ildikó also presented eCdT, the electronic workflow management system that the Centre has designed and developed in-house. All actors involved in the translation workflow are connected to one single platform, using different interfaces: the clients use the Client Portal, the external language service providers have access to the Freelance Portal, and in-house translators work in the internal module on this platform. The workflow is completely automated but it also allows for human intervention if needed. Before joining the Centre, Ildikó had read about eCdT, so she was looking forward to testing it, and she now finds it user-friendly and intuitive.

The interview also covered other topics such as the interinstitutional terminology database IATE, which the Centre manages on behalf of the IATE partners (see our website), and ECHA-term, the term base that the Centre specifically developed for the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). 

What are the major challenges that the Centre is facing? In reply to this question, Ildikó replied spontaneously ‘a lot of work’! This aside, she mentioned that clients increasingly come with specific multilingual needs, and the Centre has to find ways of responding to this. This represents a challenge but also a great opportunity. The Centre needs to stay very alert to new technologies to use them in the best possible way, and as early as possible. At the same time, she cautioned that ‘we should not fall into the trap of thinking that technology is the answer to everything, and forget about the human factor. After all, technology is built by humans for humans.’

In Ildikó’s view, technology is changing the market, and the Centre reflects this change. The Centre offers, for example, both human and machine translation, and transcription and automatic transcription. It has developed its own machine translation engines, and the size of its corpus is growing day-by-day. Clients have to learn to distinguish between the products and they should not expect the same quality from human translation and machine translation. Machine translation uses artificial intelligence and is mostly for ‘gisting’ (understand the basic meaning of a text) purposes. According to Ildikó, the Centre will always focus on how automation can help translators do their work, in terms of quality, terminology and speed. She warns, however, that technology can also slow down the process if it is not used properly. 

As a former university lecturer, Ildikó thinks that the most sought-after linguistic competence in the future will continue to be translation. Anyone studying translation should understand how to transfer source language text into the target language. Other competences of interest will include the ability to revise human translations and to perform light-post-editing of machine-translated texts, as these two jobs require different cognitive processes and techniques. Of course, additional skills such as life-long learning, adaptability and cognitive flexibility must be part of the package.

Finally, when asked what brightens up her day when going to the Translation Centre, Ildikó replied that she enjoys the challenge of leading the agency and being at the forefront of all the aforementioned changes. She also added that she is glad to have the support of the Centre’s ‘talented team’, as she kindly put it.