The evolution of translation aims to connect China with the rest of the world, involving the interaction and communication among countries of different historical background and among people of different cultural practices. It is uniting the world as one and this evolution emerged since the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative, which sparked endless possibilities for the language solutions service industry, covering more than 60 countries, 60% of the world’s population and over 40 different languages.
General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, Mr. Xi Jinping made it clear that China will actively promote international cooperation through the Belt and Road Initiative and this can be achieved through policy, infrastructure, trade, finance, and people-to-people connectivity.
In June of this year, China’s Standardization Administration, the Ministry of Education and the State Language Commission released Guidelines for the use of English in Public Service Areas, setting new standards for the use of the English language in China’s public service industries. These new guidelines will be implemented in 13 public sectors which includes transportation, tourism, entertainment, sports, education, health, telecommunications, post and trade financing.
This standardization procedure has been drawing great interests from the public because it will enhance all mistranslations across China. Mistranslation has created confusion among foreigners, particularly for warning signs. The importance of handling warning signs is a much needed improvement to prevent any unforeseen circumstances.
China Academy of Translation and the Translators Association of China (TAC) in 2016 released a report which stated, “The linguistic ability of the nation has already become a crucial part of national strength, and China’s language service ability is a significant manifestation of the country’s soft power, The language solutions service industry needs to serve as a bridge between China and the rest of the world to encourage China to know more about the world, and the world know more about China.”
Translations services have evolved since 2011, with an increase of 79% in the beginning of 2016, of which 72,495 companies have been providing language solutions services in China. As the industry grows, so do the development of technology, deliverable expectations and standards of skills.
The questions have always been:
- How do we continue to improve and scale?
- How do leverage on technology to improve quality and speed?
- How do we deliver results that encompass the cultural reflection of the nation?
During the Forum on Language Services of the 2017 TAC Conference, held on the 2nd of December, in Beijing, it saw a robot monk called Xian’er interacting with the public. This robot monk had garnered much media attention for his talents as a conversational wizard, “showing off” his fluent English and instant translation skills to the attendees. This just marked the beginning to endless opportunities for the language solutions service industry. President of TAC Zhou Mingwei also mentioned during the opening ceremony that communication, with language as its vehicle, is a fundamental requirement
The annual conference was a platform for launching any new products and services and this led to more than 700 participants getting involved, from research institutes, think tanks, universities, multinational corporations, and other organizations from within China and the rest of the world.
Although the standardization system aims to enrich the public service industry and become an indispensable tool for people in the field to perfect their professional skills, there is always constant room for improvement. Mr Zhou added, “There is still room for quality enhancements in our translation works, despite an increase in the number of practitioners during the recent years. This implies there is a huge need and demand for skilled, high-caliber translators and interpreters in China.”
Transn IOL Technology Co. Ltd. is one of Asia’s top three Internet-based language solutions service providers spearheading the movement and growth of the industry through their system called Internet of Languages (IOL). It involves the integration and fusion of artificial intelligence and the human factor.
Mr. Shi Xin, Vice President of the Transn IOL Technology Co. Ltd. told Beijing Review, “Saying that machines will replace humans can be eye-catching indeed, but in reality, it is quite difficult. We believe that machine translations are currently capable of delivering primary-level translation such as processing of mass information in a short time. However, for the higher-end market, the need for human translation is highly indispensable. The ideal scenario is combining both together.”
Internet of Languages (IOL) is a system that analyses and matches documents, accurately recognizing specific language service requirements of each project and recommending the most suitable solution its translation.
“The IOL knows whether a certain piece of text is suitable for human translators or machines, or both. If it is suitable for machines, the IOL system will choose among the machine translation engine options and recommend the best choices for execution,” Mr. Shi added. “We are still working on it. I think it’s a good development for the entire industry.”
No matter whether a translation is performed by a machine, a human, or both, each serves a bigger purpose and should not seek to undermine one another. We should deepen the integration of the Internet, big data, and AI with the translation and interpreting industry, making innovative efforts to upgrade traditional translations services and other language practices. In this way we can better facilitate China to go global and enhance dialogues with other civilizations