The Bottom Line: Does Text Reuse Translate into Gains in Productivity?
Language technologies have made for the first time possible the systematic (and semi-automated) reuse of text, bringing within the realm of the language industries text composition and text translation out of the artisan model and well into the industrial paradigm characterised by division of labour and assembly-line like procedures, and redounding in gains in productivity. In the nineties, it was translation memory, with its promise of never having to translate the same sentence twice. This decade a similar pattern is emerging with the introduction of single sourcing for technical writing: write once, use many times. Along the way, content management and global content management systems are being developed to facilitate the tasks of publishing and archiving. Analysing these developments from a linguistic standpoint, it is argued that single sourcing and translation memory are driving the text towards ‘chunkiness’ and a-discursive language, while effective communication demands ‘linearity’ and the use of full natural language features. The impact of this less effective resultant language may offset those gains in productivity. While bringing back the artisan age seems unrealistic, it is important to direct the attention of localisation managers, language software developers and language professionals in a way that avoids the traps of the technologies and enhances the machine assisted production of full discursive text.
Keywords: Globalisation, Internationalisation, Localisation, Language Industry, Translation Memory, Single Sourcing, Global Content Management, Controlled Language
Dr Ignacio Garcia
Senior lecturer, School of Languages and Linguistics, University of Western Sydney