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By Mitsue Siqueira
July 4, 2023

Language Industry News

As part of its mission to support and expand the language industry nationally and internationally, the Canadian Language Industry Association (CLIA) held its 20th anniversary conference last May. In collaboration with industry stakeholders comprising LSPs, language professionals, governmental entities, academic representatives and more, this not-for-profit association aims to showcase, promote and elevate the Canadian language industry through advocacy, accreditation and information sharing.

An opening gala took place the evening before the event to kick off the conference in style. Highlights included in-person networking opportunities as well as an awards ceremony emphasizing the valuable contributions of language industry leaders to the field. 

Notably, OXO Innovation’s sister company Communications Transcript had the honour of being recognized during the ceremony: founders Wilma Scappaticci and Joanne St-Denis were the recipients of a lifetime achievement award, which acknowledges the undeniable legacy these two women have left in the industry. We are proud to follow in their footsteps, namely by fostering a sense of leadership and initiative within our teams.

The next day, many industry leaders took the stage to discuss industry challenges, highlight the interests of language stakeholders and discuss innovation and R&D. Members of the OXO and Transcript teams were in attendance and you will find below the takeaways from three of the sessions.

Language Industry Intelligence

The panel was presented by Renato Beninatto, Chairman and Co-Founder at Nimdzi, and Florian Faes, Managing Director at Slator. A recurring topic was, of course, the undeniable impact of new language modeling technologies in the translation and localization industry, especially when it comes to Large Language Models (LLMs), such as ChatGPT. 

As influential localization technology leaders, Beninatto and Faes have been frequently asked by concerned company owners how ChatGPT will change the landscape of language services. Both leaders agreed that, while ChatGPT and other LLMs can be seen as a disruptive technology for translators, it will not impact translation companies the same way. 

According to Beninatto, the localization industry has only experienced three disruptive innovations so far: the widespread use of email, which allowed companies to reach out to native-speaking translators in their own countries; the adoption of translation memory software, a technology largely boosted by Trados; and the use of Machine Translation (Google Translate as a free tool in particular), which benefited LSPs by raising the standard of translation buyers and filtering out clients who did not need high quality translations. In this context, LLMs are rather incremental technologies for LSPs, not disruptive ones.

Faes added that implementing high-quality, customizable LLMs at this point can be a highly expensive endeavour which may not yield the expected results in language departments. Instead of rushing to adopt this technology as a language processing tool, it would be wise for LSPs to adopt a “wait-and-see” approach before making costly business decisions.

On a separate note, Beninatto took a few minutes at the end of the panel to share some eye-opening data about the Canadian language industry. As the Canadian Government remains the largest translation buyer in the country, Canadian LSPs tend to focus on the domestic market and end up losing important opportunities for worldwide leadership. The Nimdzi’s Language Technology Atlas (2019) revealed that Canada had only 7 tools among the 121 new localization technologies listed, whereas Germany had a much more extensive contribution with 38 tools. A new Technology Atlas with more than 800 tools is to be released in July 2023, and Beninatto believes the discrepancy between Canada and key European countries will be even larger.     

ChatGPT and its Generative AI Siblings

The conversation about language technologies went on with Dr. Arle Lommel, Director of Data Services at Common Sense Advisory. After drawing an important distinction between General AI and Generative AI, Dr. Lommel addressed individual linguists with one important piece of advice: Do not panic! 

According to him, while the use of Generative AI will change the work done by individual linguists today, this technology cannot operate on its own; instead, it creates a number of opportunities for those who are willing to use it.

The implementation of LLM technologies by translation companies was also a recurring topic in this panel. In line with Faes’s recommendations, Dr. Lommel reinforced that business owners should pay “careful attention to prompts and facts” before making costly decisions. 

Instead of rushing to adopt GenAI as a replacement for Neural Machine Translation systems, translation companies could benefit from gradually using it as a research tool in more strategic departments, like Sales and Marketing.

Dr. Lommel also conducted the audience through some common myths and misconceptions about Generative AI. With a didactic approach, he was able to explain the facts behind fallacious statements like GenAI committing copywriting violations on a massive scale or GenAI being ready to replace any sort of profession.

Legal Language and The Language Industry in Canada

In the last presentation of the conference, Dr. Marie-Hélène Girard, Assistant Professor of Legal Translation at McGill University, shed light on the intricacies of the Legal language industry in Canada. An interesting trend is that 31.4% of LSPs identify Legal translation as an expanding area of expertise. However, LSPs are facing a shortage of qualified professionals as more experienced predecessors retire from the workplace.

To better understand the challenges of this industry, Dr. Girard conducted a research study with professionals engaged in language activities in the field of Law in Canada. Her analysis of 190 surveys will certainly help LSPs find out what legal translators need to succeed and how to attract and retain these invaluable professionals in the years to come. The results are soon to be published by the author and we are looking forward to having access to the complete study. 

More to Come Soon…

Attending industry events is always enriching. For no other reason have the OXO and Transcript teams confirmed their participation at the OTTIAQ’s annual conference in November 2023. This Canadian flagship event brings together hundreds of language professionals, students and other experts in the fields of translation, terminology and interpretation. We can’t wait to attend the conference and share our findings with you here.

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