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Monday, July 31, 2006

Who Pays for Technology?

Remember the good old days, when all you needed to translate was a piece of paper, pen or pencil (typewriters came later), and a couple of dictionaries? Those days are gone forever. In addition to machines with many times the computing power of the Apollo 11 moon rocket's controls, we have to buy and learn how to use sophisticated software worth much more than the machine it's installed on.

And then comes a client who wants you to do DTP (for which he previously used expensive typesetters) free of charge, or wants a discount for the savings you achieve with the CAT tools you paid for and spent countless hours learning how to use. It makes one wonder if all that technology you've purchased will benefit you or your client.

There can be no doubt about the savings in time and effort our hi-tech tools can bring us. I also think using these tools is more fun than typing your translation on a Selectric typewriter. The question is how to make them save us not only time and effort, but also dollars, euros, or yens.

Do you give a discount for "100% or 80% matches" when you use a CAT tool? Do you provide extra services such as DTP or glossary compilation free of charge only because your tools enable you to do so? You may decide to give your clients all these freebies if it gives you a competitive edge, but you must be aware of the fact that you're giving away something that you've paid for and that rightfully belongs to you.

Have our incomes grown at the same pace our expenses with hardware and software have? Who is ultimately benefiting from the technification of the translation industry?