Des voyageurs heureux au Sahara

Happy travellers in the Sahara Desert. Photo: Julián Zapata.

Now’s the time to translate a different way!

In 2023, it’s about time we said ‘out with the keyboard’ and ‘in with the spoken word and
multimodal technologies’. Looking ahead, a repurposed translation dictation will become the
norm for the translation industry.

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Typing the French surname ‘Vigneault’ requires ten keystrokes, twice for a capital ‘V’ and another eight times for the remaining letters. The more formal rendering “Monsieur Vigneault”, requires twenty keystrokes, including the space. Whereas speaking it aloud, I only need a few syllables, and specifically nine sounds: [məsjø viɳo].

For over half a century, translators have had the option of dictating rather than typing content on a computer. However, to date, practicing translators and translation schools have been suspicious about translation dictation. Most translators stick with the more “tried-and-tested” methods since they never gave dictation a minute’s thought. That said, in 2023, a plethora of translators the world over dictate their translations.

It’s now common knowledge that dictation enables translators to double or even triple productivity. It sharpens their focus on interlinguistic and intercultural aspects to deliver topnotch translations. What’s more, dictation is designed to boost your professional satisfaction and quality of life since it helps to avoid health issues caused due to desk jobs, improving wellness across the board.

Cometh the hour, cometh dictation, reborn!

I have taken inspiration from the numerous testimonials by translators who dictate and scientific works produced these past four decades. This is how I have developed interactive translation dictation (ITD) as part of my academic and entrepreneurial endeavors. Simply put, ITD reinvents translation dictation that was practiced some fifty years ago. It incorporates best-inclass interactive and multimodal technologies that are based on the Cloud. Such solutions include voice recognition applications, mobile phones and of course tablets.

Increased productivity is just the beginning

No alt text provided for this imageThe future looks bright. The future’s translation through dictation..


Going forward, ITD has the potential to become one of the most efficient and user-friendly techniques for the industry as a whole. It has the added benefit of catering to innumerable language combinations with deployment anywhere and anytime, from any given device.

In the not too distant future, ITD will foster the development of cross-linguistic and crosscultural skills among foreign language learners. This will attract thousands of new students to study translation and interpretation at university level. Against this background, ITD represents the go-to solution to meet growing demand for professional translations in the
age of all things digital and an already gelocalized world.

Last but not least, ITD will help speakers of languages that are devoid of writing systems to access translated content. Not only is this vital to developing their understanding of the world, their education and their long-term future but it also serves to spotlight their literature, culture and intellect. As such, ITD can contribute to safeguarding endangered languages and shaping our planet’s linguistic diversity.

Essentially, languages are spoken. Translation requires humans to grasp and communicate interlinguistic and intercultural phenomena. It’s not simply a competition about how many keystrokes you can pull off per minute, nor how many words you can translate per day. 

Restoring the artistic status of translation: goodbye keyboard, hello AI!

No alt text provided for this image

iStock Photo: “The Burning Keyboard”. Standard Licence.

In my humble opinion, machine translation is not a threat to the translation profession. The same can be said for Artificial Intelligence (AI), despite its pivotal role in designing emerging ITD tools. When it comes to deciphering the subtleties of the Earth’s 7,000 or so languages with their cultural nuances, remember that humans still largely outperform machines. Pressing ahead into 2024 and beyond, ITD holds the key to a promising future. In a nutshell, it’s the most effective way to craft upscale human translations at almost the same speed as that of our thoughts.