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The overwhelming majority of translators believed ICT to be important to support each of the various groups of activity discussed earlier, particularly for communication activities and for information retrieval activities, such as terminology identification and locating relevant background reference material.

There was widespread agreement among the respondents about the benefits they derived from their ICT usage. In descending rank order, the translators reported that their adoption of ICT had: brought time saving benefits; helped them provide higher quality services to their clients; improved their effectiveness as translators; and improved their communication with clients.

Moreover, a high proportion claimed they had gained more benefits than they had expected from their use of ICT; and believed that their use of them had increased their revenue. Although respondents expressed largely positive attitudes to ICT in general, when asked more specifically about their opinions on CAT tools, translators in the sample seemed less convinced of the value of such facilities and the benefits to be derived from their use.

Those who had already adopted CAT tools were generally more positive than those who had not. The next phase of the research project includes a comparative examination of adopters and non-adopters of CAT tools, providing opportunities to consider in greater depth these attitudes towards translation technologies.

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A further set of questions in the questionnaire was designed to ascertain the strategies freelance translators use to guide their adoption of ICT and to manage their ICT resources. It became clear that the freelance translators in the sample, in common with many other small business managers see for example Acs and Preston, 5; Curran and Blackburn, 5 , did not tend to formulate and follow a formal ICT strategy.

Instead, respondents were generally concerned to ensure that each of their ICT investments matched the needs of their business. In this respect, the freelancers demonstrated a cautious and, in ICT strategy terms, a quite mature approach to ICT adoption Galliers and Sutherland There was little evidence of technology being adopted 'just for the sake of it' or 'just because it was there', an approach conventionally thought of by ICT strategists as immature. For many in the sample, it seemed that their guiding principle was to ensure that ICT adoption improved their efficiency and productivity.

In this section, the key findings of the questionnaire survey are discussed.

The implications of those findings for various stakeholders in the translation sector are reviewed, and the potential limitations of the survey are highlighted. With regard to the uptake of ICT by freelance translators in the UK, the findings of the survey indicate that there has been widespread adoption of general-purpose software applications to support a number of the activities involved in the freelance translator's workflow.

There was, however, only limited uptake of more specialised translation-oriented software applications, such as terminology management systems and translation memory tools. Likewise, there was only limited adoption of specialised software to support such business functions as financial management and accounting. From the findings obtained in the survey, it seemed likely that non-adoption of translation tools was more a function of translators' lack of awareness of, and familiarity with, these tools than an active rejection decision based on thorough knowledge of the tools and their functionality.

Those who had adopted translation tools were generally positive about the benefits they were deriving from their use. With regard to ICT adoption decisions, the findings indicated that the freelance translators in the sample were typically concerned to invest in technology that would help improve their efficiency and productivity as translators. Although generally not guided by a formal ICT investment strategy, the translators were concerned to adopt software applications that aligned with the needs of their translation business. Some specific implications for each of these stakeholders are discussed below.

For newly-qualified translators, the findings of the study should provide a reasonable indication of the ICT they will need to get themselves started in a career in freelance translation. From the evidence of this study, setting up an Internet-enabled workstation comprising general-purpose software applications would seem to represent a sensible starting point.

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A sound knowledge of general-purpose software, including spreadsheets, and Internet search strategies is needed. As these newly-qualified translators become more established translators, they may do well to note the ICT investment strategies employed by those in this study's sample, and consider adopting only those applications that meet the needs of their business. Having set up a workstation comprising general-purpose software, these translators may then usefully take heed of the levels of adoption of translation technologies identified in the survey, and consider the various findings relating to the scepticism of non-adopters and the more positive reports of adopters about productivity and efficiency gains.

Their assessment of these findings, together with their own aspirations for their freelance translation business, should help guide and inform their future plans for adoption, or non-adoption, of translation technologies. MS PowerPoint , spreadsheets and databases. Exposure to a range of translation technologies and a thorough grounding in the concepts on which these technologies rely would also help raise awareness of the capabilities of such tools, increase familiarity with their functionality and key features, and enable trainees to make informed choices about the suitability of each tool for a particular translation task.

Beyond initial training and on into continuing professional development, the professional bodies for translators have an ongoing role to play in raising awareness among their members about technological developments within the translation sector, and in providing a forum for translators to learn about and discuss the issues surrounding the adoption of new technologies. Established translators arguably have a professional responsibility to take advantage of the continuing development opportunities offered by their professional bodies in order to help them keep abreast of technological advances in the translation sector, and in order to help them continue to achieve their goals of quality and productivity.

Such opportunities might include attendance at relevant seminars and workshops, as well as participation in online discussion groups or networks, where ideas and user experiences can be informally exchanged. Participation in these sorts of activities should help to improve levels of awareness of technological developments in the sector.

Terminology management systems and CAT tools have been on the market for some years now, and yet, according to the findings of this study, levels of uptake among freelancers are not very high. There is evidence of scepticism among freelancers about their value, and a lack of confidence in the benefits that might be gained from using them.

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In his report, Kay advocated a gradual, step-by-step approach to adding tools into the translator's workstation, thereby slowly increasing the software support introduced into the translator's workflow. He stressed the importance of accepting an individual tool only once there is a reasonable degree of confidence about its capabilities, and its reliability in performing the tasks it is designed to support. By contrast, the tendency with much software development today - and translation technology development is no exception - is to produce integrated packages or 'bundles' of several tools.

Typically, the entire package must be purchased in one go, giving little opportunity for the sort of incremental adoption that Kay advocated. A greater emphasis on decomposing packages of translation technologies into their constituent tools, and the promotion of such tools on a more modular basis, might usefully be explored for the freelance translation market.

This would need to be accompanied by clear guidance to freelancers about the tool adoption sequences they might follow, such as from terminology management, to translation memory, to alignment tools, to filters for translating specific file formats, through to project management functions. This would enable translators to take the 'little steps' of software adoption that Kay discusses, and to gain confidence in the available software support as they progress through their chosen adoption sequence. An incremental approach such as this might also fit better with the ICT adoption strategy findings identified in the present survey, which indicated that freelancers in the sample tend to consider each ICT investment in turn and try to match it to the needs of their business.

In addition to informing the above stakeholder groups, the findings of the present study should be of interest to the translation research community, as a new data collection instrument the questionnaire survey , based on ICT adoption studies undertaken in other business sectors, has been developed and rigorously tested.

This instrument can be adapted for use in follow-up and replication studies. Moreover, the findings present a broad picture of the current levels of uptake of ICT among freelance translators in the UK, and can therefore be used to contextualise and support other research studies in this domain. Using a survey-based approach for investigating the adoption of ICT among freelance translators, whilst providing a broad overview of the freelance community, is inevitably limited in the depth of exploration that can be undertaken, particularly with regard to the relationships holding between constructs.

Consequently, the next phase of the project has been designed to follow a more qualitative data gathering approach, allowing the confirmation of the findings obtained so far, as well as a deeper examination of the various factors influencing the adoption of ICT by translators.

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  3. Translator’S Workbench: Tools And Terminology For Translation And Text Processing 1995?

Whilst the survey has been focussed on UK-based translators, it is envisaged that the survey instrument now designed, developed and validated, could be employed for replication studies among translator communities in other countries. Indeed, undertaking comparative studies among translators in other countries would represent an interesting avenue for further research. The use of ICT by UK freelance translators is a timely and relevant subject of inquiry, given the high proportion of the translator community now working on a freelance basis, and given the growing array of software applications, both general-purpose and translation-specific, available for their use.

However, specific details regarding the uptake of ICT by freelance translators are fairly limited, and so an exploratory empirical study of this domain was initiated.

Translators Workbench Tools And Terminology For Translation And Text Processing 1995

The results of a statistical analysis suggest that general-purpose software applications are widely used, but there is less evidence of translation-specific tools being adopted. Whilst this research presents a number of important insights into the uptake of ICT by freelancers, there is still a need for more follow-up studies. In particular, it is important to establish clearer indications of the reasons for adoption and non-adoption of translation technologies by freelancers.

The aim of the next phase of the present research project is to explore such issues in greater depth.


Acs, Z. Andres Lange, C. Austermuhl, F.

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Translator’S Workbench: Tools And Terminology For Translation And Text Processing

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