RMIT Vietnam NewsHow does technological advancement impact human interpreters?

How does technological advancement impact human interpreters?

Thursday, December 28, 2017 - 14:54

According to RMIT Vietnam’s Associate Professor Dr Duong Thi Hoang Oanh, professional interpreters don't need to be afraid of being replaced by technology. 

Rather, technological advances will have a positive impact on the interpretation industry.

Associate Professor Oanh, Senior Lecturer in the Bachelor of Language program, said the development of technology makes it easier for interpreters to do their work.

“When I was young, I had to search through the entire dictionary to find the meaning of just one word; the Internet has made this task significantly easier. Technology is a powerful tool that we need to understand, to master, and ultimately to harness for selective use,” Associate Professor Oanh said.

“Interpreters can greatly benefit from newly released technology and complete translation projects more efficiently.”

RMIT Vietnam’s Associate Professor Duong Thi Hoang Oanh teaches a class in the Bachelor of Languages program.

When Google Translate (a free multilingual machine translation service) came along in 2002, it marked the beginning of a new era in language translation technology. However, there is still a large gap between human and machine translation, and machine translations need to be proofread and frequently rewritten entirely.

“An interpreter’s skillset includes not only language proficiency but also specialised knowledge, cultural understanding, interaction and emotion. Thus, it will be difficult for technology to replace human beings, at least in this generation,” Associate Professor Oanh said.

“In my view, a good interpreter needs to be fluent in the languages that are being translated and express these languages as native speakers would expect. In addition, interpreters must have a good memory and possess effective note-taking and presentation skills.”

Students in the interpreting class use online resources to complete assignments.

According to the HCMC Centre for Forecasting Manpower Needs and Labour Market Information (under the Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs), from 2017 to 2025 Ho Chi Minh City will need 1,000 qualified translators and interpreters. This means that there will be many new opportunities for language specialists to work in various specialised fields, especially with the information technology revolution and integration trends of the 21st century.

“Increased international integration will generate a great need for translation and interpretation, which will expand opportunities in society for those who are passionate about this field,” Associate Professor Oanh said.

“I live by the proverb ‘Nhất nghệ tinh, nhất thân vinh' ('Be the best at what you do and you are the master of your own fortune'), and I believe this proverb is more relevant than ever in the interpretation and translation industry today,” she concluded.

Story: Le Mong Thuy