The ergonomics of professional translation under pressure
Massey, Gary; Ehrensberger-Dow, Maureen (2017). The ergonomics of professional translation under pressure. In: XXIst World Congress of the International Federation of Translators. Conference paper. (3-5 August 2017). Brisbane: FIT.
Professional translation has been subject to enormous changes in the last few decades, largely due to ICT developments that have increased not only the technologization of the workplace but also productivity expectations and efficiency demands. The field of ergonomics has long recognized that people work within socio-technical systems that encompass tools, equipment, and computer interfaces as well as other actors in their professional environment and networks, yet academic research into the ergonomics of translation has only just started. At the XXth FIT Congress in Berlin in 2014, we announced the launch of an online survey that had the objective of providing insights into the physical, cognitive, and organizational ergonomics of translation. The survey generated considerable interest in the professional community, as reflected in 1,850 questionnaires completed by translators from almost 50 countries. In this presentation, we highlight the main findings of the survey with a focus on differences between freelance, commercial, and institutional translators. The pressure that translators are under to meet their own high quality standards while observing clients’ requirements within ever tighter deadlines can negatively affect their job satisfaction and health. Disruptions to their concentration and workflow are caused, among other things, by the very language technology that is meant to support them. We discuss how a greater awareness of the ergonomic issues identified by this research can inform translation practice and feed into translator education.