Translators throughout history have played a determining role in all the social, political, economic and cultural relationships existing between different societies. The history of our civilisations is that of the relationship between cultures of different languages. For Jean Delisle, a society’s literature undergoes a new evolution, as soon as it is enriched by the translation of a literary work coming from another culture. In times of globalisation, the production and marketing of products could not be imagined without the translation of documents accompanying the product at various stages, from design to practical use and beyond, including customer service queries. A translator’s task requires skill that cannot be improvised. Today, translators are multidisciplinary agents. The translator’s command of specialised languages must be as thorough as that of specialists.
An Expanding Market
Globalisation, EU enlargement and consolidation generated a constant growth of the annual number of translated pages (2.5 million pages a year have to be translated for the European Commission compared to 1.3 million in 2004). In Belgium, the translation market is well established with several large international offices and 7 famous training institutes, accessible to students from different countries.
Self-employed translators work for themselves or for an agency or an international institution on a freelance basis.
Appointed translators can work in a translation service of a business firm, an insurance company, a bank…
Translators can become civil servants for national and international organisations, federal and regional departments of the government, the European Union,, the UN, or NATO.
Whether freelance or an employee, translators have to collaborate with others according to their preferences and personal abilities. Man or machine? Translators use translation tools, which include terminological databases, translation software and, sometimes, machine translation. Rather than a competitor, MT and CAT software is the missing link between a team of translators assigned to different tasks.