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Opinions and info about DeepL translation software

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TT Translators, I have a question for a friend here in the Oberallgäu.  She works from home and does translations.  She has three main firms for whom she does translations of patent projects.  These firms are in Austria.  She's been working with or for them since 2010.  She studied in Munich 25 years ago.  The income from these firms is, well, rather good.

 

I visited her about ten days ago and she was not in a good place due to her recent discovery of DeepL.  She is deeply worried.  Oddly, I too discovered DeepL shortly before we chatted and was rather impressed with the programme.  I found it much better than Google.  But that is me as a simple occasional user.  She obviously sees it differently as it has the potential to eliminate her.  Moreover, since the software costs 20€.  She is 48 years old and is quite concerned about her future as a translator.

 

Presently, she is paid 0,16€ per word and what she translates are documents up to 200 or more pages!  She feels that with the DeepL programme, she will only be doing corrections to translated documents these firms will potentially purchase, at a much less rate for her.  We discussed the rate, which I felt she offered too little.  She mentioned 40€ per hour and I countered with 100€.  Regardless, it is still significantly less than what she is presently paid for her services.

 

As translators, what are your thoughts on this?  How do you see the future of your industry?

 

She is a wee recluse and knows no other translators so I offered to ask here to get your take on this.

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I'm not a translator, but I know that the rates went further down and down the last 20 years. Many do it as a side business since you can often work from your cozy home or they survive, because their partner has a decent job. The golden days are over. Sometimes work students are hired instead of a professional translator to keep the costs down. Exceptions are if you're specialized in e.g. law/medical/technical topics where you can bring added value to the table. Patent projects are technical, so I assume your friend has some technical know-how. That could be her USP: unique selling point. These texts need to be translated very accurately to avoid possible misunderstanding or confusion.

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Speaking as a professional translator, I am aware that translation software and digitisation generally are ultimately going to takje over much of our functions and that we are going to end up doing what is referred to as "post-editing". However, that day is a long way away simply because software is not be creative as the human mind and because human language has too many nuances in it for software to catch up overnight.

Perhaps your friend might care to think about aquiring some more fields of specialised activity in her work, such as "branching out" from translating patents. Would that be an option?

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@BayrischDude

As an afterthought, I have also just "discovered" DeepL translation software. It really is very good (i.e. not perfect but still very good).

For the record, the cost of €20 is the monthly cost (= €240 per year), not a one-off purchase price, but this is for the professional version. I am currently using the online version, which is free.

Upon reflection, your friend should continue using DeepL but as I suggested above, she should also seriously consider exploring other avenues of activity, either as alternatives to or together with translation.

If she has translation qualifications (does she?), she might want to consider joining the German Interpreters' and Translatiors' Association (BDÜ). I can recommend it and it may help in getting work.

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