Dr. Akiko Sakamoto

Kansai University

Dr. Akiko Sakamoto (Kansai University)

Ensuring a Sustainable Translator Workforce in the Era of Machine Translation

The negative impact of machine translation (MT) on the quality of translators' working lives and their work motivation is a well-documented concern. While machine translation post-editing (MTPE) is now being hailed as a major driver for increased efficiency and productivity in translation production, the language industry now faces the risk of losing experienced and talented translators, which may lead to a shortage of skills in the near future. This talk will present some examples of this risk and discuss several key points that need to be considered in ensuring a motivated and skilled translator workforce.

The key points include: 1) Ensuring a healthy number of students studying foreign languages in higher education; 2) Providing satisfactory working conditions for translators, particularly implementing fair MTPE payment models shared across the industry; 3) Encouraging the industry to make the MTPE work process enjoyable for translators, rather than solely focusing on efficiency and productivity; and 4) Recognizing translators' language knowledge and work skills by the wider society. I argue that ensuring the sustainability of the translator workforce by addressing these points requires collaboration among different parties: language service providers (LSPs), technology developers, translators and their professional associations and educators.


Akiko Sakamoto is Professor in Translation Studies at Kansai University, Japan. Before coming to Kansai in 2022, she was Senior Lecturer in Translation Studies at the University of Portsmouth, UK, for nine years. Her research focuses on the impact of translation technologies (including machine translation) on translators’ workflow and their professional motivation and status. The ultimate aim of her research is to propose an optimum form of human-machine symbiosis in the technologised translation work environment. She is currently leading an international and interdisciplinary research project funded by the JSPS (Japan Society for the Promotion of Science) “The translator as digital worker: Impacts of technology use on translators' work-related quality of life”.

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