The meaning of productivity for a translator

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What does productivity mean for a translator?
The translator is an individual, not a company. For him, there is no economy of scale. Higher volume does not mean higher profits. Program for program, he will not make more profit if he translates 10 films than if he translates just one. He will earn the same for each film and his profits will not increase the more films he translates.
Productivity has a meaning from an industrial point of view but not for the translator.
Perhaps technology can help the translator. What can it do for him?
Well, not much. Technology is a means, a tool. Subtitling software for instance is an excellent tool, but it is like a car: you can have the most technologically advanced car in the world but if you don't know where you're going, you will just go nowhere more quickly. It is true that software allows translators to work in more comfortable conditions, but it cannot help them to produce better translations.
Let us assume that technology allows us to work faster. It could then be argued that it helps the translator to do a better job: they are paid the same and work faster. This means they can reinvest the time gained in reviewing their translation many times. But the point is, for audiovisual translators, technology has always meant a dramatic drop in rates and in the time allocated for each job. In France, the rates are a third of what they were 10 years ago. Has any employee in any other sector seen their salary cut by 70% in ten years? If we don't react, the same will happen in dubbing, with the rapid growth of virtual dubbing software.

We have seen many amazing machines and softwares but I know of something even more amazing: the human brain. A machine transcodes, the brain of a translator takes a sentence in its context and transfers it to another language. languages are not just words strung together; they are inextricably linked with a culture and are constantly evolving. They are the flesh of a civilization, and at the core of the very essence of humanity.
In a nutshell, standardization, globalization, productivity and blind trust in the wonders of technology are the criteria of the industry, but they cannot be applied to the work of the mind, and therefore not to translation.
Quality cannot be achieved without a system of values. What is valued here? Not the viewers and certainly not the translators. There, the company would provide them with a computer, an internet connection and lots of paid-per-minute programs. It is an insight into the way these companies envision the trade of the audiovisual translator.

Time. It is the only thing that can allow a translator to go through all the steps that guarantee a good translation. One of them is proofreading, for instance by a fellow translator: through this crucial step, subtitles or dubbing can be considerably enhanced.
Money. Translators should always be paid by the subtitle or word. They do not make socks. They should not be paid by the kilogram or, in this case, the minute. It is not a mechanical process repeated again and again as if on a production line. Each sentence, each subtitle is different, is a new adventure. Being paid per subtitle or word is a way to have their work properly recognized and appreciated.
Aunes Oversettelser AS has been in the business for 26 years, and we are specialized in technical translations. We are specializing in the Nordic languages, and can offer services into Swedish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Icelandic. The premier translation agency for Norway and the Nordic region! Technical translation services for businesses in the Nordic countries and translation agencies world-wide.

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