Call me a workaholic, but as I watch Downton Abbey, I can’t help but think of the world of translation. Sometimes I feel like the freelance translator or the regional translation provider is Mr. Carson and that forward-thinking companies are Mrs. Hughes. Not only have we brought this newfangled thing called a telephone — ahem, I mean translation memory — into truculent people’s lives, but in a relatively short period of time we’re trying to cram machine translation (MT), our version of the electric toaster, down their throats. It’s not that Mr. Carson doesn’t want what’s best for the house. Anyone who watches the show can tell that deep down, the butler cares greatly about his work, the house he serves and the family that lives in it. But people’s tolerance for change is a lot like their tolerance for pain or alcohol or anything else — they can only take so much at once. And in an industry that’s rapidly changing, each new advancement leaves some in our industry saying, “Could you not have spared me that?”
Embarrassing as it may be, I will keep watching Downton Abbey even though we all know how the story ends. The telephone remains ringing, the toaster keeps right on toasting. Technology and tide wait for no man, and we will all receive it at our own levels. . .