Collaborative Translation

Published on May 9, 2014

by Evren Ay

For those who don’t know, the translation industry is an important part of the $22.7 trillion global trade. The industry generates $35 billion dollars annually and provides part- and full-time employment for hundreds of thousands of people. The way people buy or deliver translation service, however, has not evolved with the times. It is still believed that the only way to provide a quality translation is through a one-on-one interaction of the client and a veteran translator.

This is a fallacy.

Being a veteran does not necessarily make a translator good. It is just like a Bill Gates speech you might recall from his TED talk. It has been determined that seniority alone or having a tenure are not necessary in a good educator. It is in fact the educators who are passionate about what they are doing who are good educators.

The same goes for translators: those who are passionate about their craft, intellectually curious, and possess general knowledge coupled with an industry expertise tend to be the best.

TED itself is a good example of this. Their talks get transcribed and translated into many languages by volunteers who have a passion for what they are listening to. These people work collaboratively to provide the transcription and translation service free of charge because they want to share their passion with those who do not speak English. There is a peer review to all translations and the end result — though sometimes slow — is a cost-effective way of translating content.

About a year ago, we were lucky enough to find people with different talents to join us in thinking that ‘collaborative’ was the way to go.

As iterated in its beginning, our aim was — and still is — to build the world’s fastest human translation platform.

We want high-quality and fast translation to be available to anyone who needs it so that they can express themselves professionally and accurately in any language. Machine translation is in its infancy and language is an ever-changing medium that currently AIs cannot interpret.
This goal can only be attained through the efficient use of talented human translators.
For translation purchasers; fast, high-quality and lower-cost are enough to be attractive . “But what about the translators?,” some colleagues might ask.

The draw of MotaWord  (www.motaword.com) — our platform — for translators are twofold. First, it is a simple platform to access and work on that is readily available for professional translators to earn money. Because of its collaborative nature, MotaWord does not bog translators down with deadlines and this allows them the flexibility to participate in translation projects anytime they want, for as much as they want.

The second draw is the educational aspect. Usually translators are limited to their CVs, and a client would not necessarily pick a translator if their CV does not have sufficient credibility on the subject matter.

MotaWord translators are free to log in and participate in projects even if it is just to watch their colleagues work. They might pick and choose the parts they are comfortable with and review the translations by their peers to gain experience in other areas they have not previously been exposed to.
And, high-quality is achieved much more easily in a community than by a person working alone. Our translators are the first to object to sub-standard work — even typos get edited in real-time by well wishing colleagues.

All of this is achieved thanks to technologies that allow translators to work collaboratively on a cloud-based platform. And this collaborative and training aspect makes it possible for MotaWord to find the passionate translators and create passion among others for subject areas that they previously could not venture into.

We feel that it is high time this sleepy industry and its operators caught up with the 21st century. This would not only allow for better economies for purchasers and faster delivery times, but also for an efficient global professional body that can auto-control itself and that does not render praise based only on seniority but on quantifiable merit.

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