Today’s guest contributor is Toos Stoker, Digital Marketing Director for TAUS. As the TAUS Annual Conference and the TAUS QE Summit are fast approaching, she takes us on a journey from TAUS’ beginnings to their cutting edge Human Language Project, and encourages us all to participate in the shaping of the language industry.
When Jaap van der Meer founded TAUS in 2005, his vision was to unite the stakeholders in the translation industry, exchange knowledge and experience, and together, ‘enable better translation’. The Translation Automation Roundtable held in San Francisco in 2004 launched a platform for an open exchange of experiences, issues and insights around translation automation among corporate users, and resulted in the creation of TAUS.
TAUS started out as a think tank for topics surrounding translation automation, focusing on activities such as publishing articles, reports, and white papers, and organizing events to bring together thought leaders to discuss the issues and challenges they face every day. The first event hosted under the TAUS banner was the Executive Forum in Brussels, where participants discussed a wide range of industry issues, including the barriers to and benefits from more comprehensive translation automation.
Language business innovation
In 2008, the language and translation business started to undergo dramatic changes, characterized by a growing need for more languages, a shift to more dynamic content, and user-centered publishing. In this rapidly-changing environment, the existing and most common business model of outsourced translation turned out not to be ideal in all circumstances. TAUS started to broaden its horizons, including other topics that are part of the worldwide language and translation industry.
In the TAUS Roundtable meetings, TAUS invited globally-operating companies to help define a new enterprise language strategy. Early in 2007, TAUS began to identify the industry tools needed to meet ever-increasing commercial and societal demand for translation. The TAUS community soon concluded that a shared industry repository of translation data was needed as a fundamental building block to support future growth and innovation.
So in the summer of 2008, the TAUS Data Association (TDA) was founded by over forty TAUS members. Since then, the TDA Board has come together at TAUS events to discuss the future of this platform.
Enterprise language strategy
In order to be ready for expansion of languages, growth in user-generated content, rapid turn-around translation, and effective global customer support, companies realized they needed an enterprise language strategy. In 2009, we therefore asked ourselves the question: how do we make the transition from a project-oriented approach to having language embedded in everything we do?
We hosted our first TAUS User Conference in Portland, OR, with the theme ‘The Profit of Sharing’. The objectives of this conference were to stimulate collaboration in the global translation market and vertical industry sectors; to grow the membership of the TAUS Data Association; to discover opportunities to translate more content into more languages for many more customers and citizens; and to discover opportunities for new services and business growth. The User Conference would soon become an Annual Conference, hosted each October in North America.
Together we know more
Collaborative events in 2011 and 2012 brought together a vast array of ‘seasoned’ practitioners and potential users of translation, and resulted in a knowledge base of best practices in the form of a series of interlinked design patterns. TAUS held consultations with our members and users to establish best practices on post-editing, machine translation, and quality evaluation, among others.
Human Language Project
Not much later, in 2012, TAUS opened the debate on this Human Language Project at a special meeting at the TAUS European Summit in Paris. The summit brought together enterprise and government stakeholders who agreed that a comprehensive collection of human language data could kick-start a new epoch of translation practice and science.
On one hand, content could be translated into far more languages than those currently on offer, ushering in an age of global inter-translation. On the other, the project could be used to experiment with new methods of translation and translator training, to devise new tools for creating, editing, and searching bilingual or multilingual content, and to investigate a whole range of existing technical or scholarly issues (e.g. semantics, pragmatics, meaning changes over time) as well as others that cannot yet be imagined.
These meetings about language data sharing evolved the TAUS Data Association into the current TAUS Data Cloud — a database which now includes more than 72 billion words in 2,227 language pairs.
Localization game changers
We are now entering the Convergence Era in which more and more people are connected. Translation shifts gears, budding from a luxury service exclusive to global corporations, into a commodity service for 7 billion users who consider translation most of the time ‘free’.
It’s tempting to try to hold on to the old ways of translation and localization; a time when everything was not so dynamic and always in flux. But if you do, you will be left behind and opportunities will be lost.
We have to ask ourselves: how do we manage change? How do we make sure that our limited budgets generate maximum impact for our companies? If there is one thing we have learned in the past year, and in particular at the 2015 TAUS Annual Conference in Silicon Valley, it is that we need a new mindset. We need to be mission-driven and data-driven. We need to change the game.
At the upcoming TAUS Annual Conference in Portland, OR, we are hosting sessions on all sorts of topics that are relevant now and soon, fostering discussions with experts in the field, and taking the pulse of the translation industry as we discuss strategies and opportunities for collaboration.
In addition to panel discussions with thought leaders, we will have a Game Changers Innovation Contest where 20 innovators from all over the world will present their new, thought-provoking, and innovative ideas to contend for the TAUS Game Changers Innovation Award.
Join us in Portland for the 2016 TAUS Annual Conference on October 24 and 25, where Erik Vogt and Jim Compton (Moravia) will host and participate in the session: “Zen and the Art of Robot Maintenance”. In preparation for this session you can read the blog post “Datafication of Translation”.
Or stay in touch and look for the Keynotes eBook on all that happened during this event, which will be published by the end of the year!