Podcast: interview with Rahzeb Choudhury about the upcoming “Great Translation Debate” 3

Here’s a new ProZ.com podcast. These podcasts are designed to provide an opportunity to hear the week’s news, highlights of site features, interviews with translators and others in the industry, and to have some fun (see announcement).

On September 29, 2011 TAUS and ProZ.com will host the Great Translation Debate online so I interviewed Rahzeb Choudhury, Operations Director at TAUS, to learn more about the ideas behind this debate and about the topics that will be discussed.

Before going into the details about the upcoming event I asked Rahzeb to explain briefly what TAUS does and describe its mission. He explained that TAUS aims to help people to use technology more effectively by informing properly about translation automation. They aim to help people improve their strategies for translation. TAUS’ mission is to increase the size and significance of the translation industry to help the world communicate better. He also explained that the idea for this event came up quite a long time ago, in December last year, as they were reviewing a series called translation in the 21st century where they covered what major companies were doing, the challenges and opportunities available for translation companies and a couple of articles on the changing role of translators. They wanted to continue on those topics because they are relevant so they thought the idea of the debate would open up the discussion. During the debate participants will be able to discuss a motion and vote for or against it and it is expected that this format will help create a lively debate.

I also asked Rahzeb about his opinion regarding translators and their changing roles. He said that in his opinion translators are vital for a successful and dynamic machine translation experience; translators are the source of quality translations, which often results in translation memories, and translation memories are a great fuel for creating the best in-class machine translation systems. He also indicated that translators play a complex role — as translators, post-editors, editors, terminologists, quality assurance advisers, etc. All this impacts on the role to play in machine translation workflows. Rahzeb believes translators will continue to be better than machine translation in many scenarios but they inevitably will want and need to shift their skills. This is normal in a lot of industries in which there is change or some sort of  revolution happening and it is important that translators are informed about translation automation in general. This debate will help in that process.

I was very intrigued by the concept of “interoperability” and Rahzeb explained it using very simple examples. He said that interoperability happens when you travel abroad and you can still use your bank card to cash your money in any cash machine or when you can use your mobile phone in other countries. This happens because the technology infrastructure supports standards protocols, standard information exchange formats and systems comply with these formats so then information can pass from one system to another seamlessly without losing value. In his view interoperability is important for the translation profession because it will make the industry more efficient and more capable. It will provide people with more choice of tools and access to cheaper tools.

During the debate the following topics will be discussed and presented as motions:

  • Translation automation is good for the translation profession
  • Interoperability is important for the translation profession
  • It makes sense for translators to share translation memories
  • Higher education courses prepare translators sufficiently for life in industry

These affect everyone in different ways so it is important that all players in the translation industry participate. The open format for the discussion that this virtual debate provides presents a rare opportunity to express everyone’s view. There will be constructive outcomes and everyone will learn from one another.

Listen to the interview with Rahzeb here: ProZ.com podcast, 2011-08-26

You can also check this article on individual translators and data exchange standards recently published by TAUS.

Those interested in participating in the Great Translation Debate on September 29, 2011 can register here. This event will be one in a series planned for the 2011 ProZ.com virtual conference week (September 26 – 30, 2011).

Feedback and comments are welcome. You can reach me at romina at proz.com or via Twitter @ProZcom .

To listen to previous podcasts, check the podcasts tab in this blog.


P.S. Sorry folks for the background noise!


  1. Very interesting interview and indeed a very “touchy feely” subject for most translators. I am glad that the issue of Machine Translation is being discussed with translators. I believe that in our Global Village of the 21st century there is no way to stop technology (and why would we want to do so?). We translators and interpreters must, instead of resisting it, join the efforts, contribute our opinions and participate in the “creation” of the new technologies. What if architects, as Rahzeb states, had stubbornly stated they would not join the software revolution in architectural design and construction? What if doctors renounce the use of MRI’s and other technological advances? We must EMBRACE technology and participate in its development. Our profession might not have changed much in 2,000 years, but now it is changing at very rapid paces and we still have a chance to have a say in its future. Let’s join the conversation! Thank you, Romina, and thank you Rahzeb.


  2. Pingback: Podcast: Interview with Lucia Leszinsky on the upcoming ProZ.com site guidance day
 and the Certified PRO Network virtual conference | Translator T.O.

  3. Pingback: Podcast: Interview with Drew MacFadyen on ProZ.com’s 2011 virtual event series: “Small changes, big results” (Sep 26-30, 2011) | Translator T.O.

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