We can only imagine how the Dutch seafarers, who went ashore at Hirado, started their communication with the Japanese in the early 1600s. Gesturing, pointing at objects and helplessly speaking their own words. They learned and found common words and started trading. Continents got connected and economies started to grow.
You could say that we have come a long way since the years of discoveries by famous world explorers. Today we are über-connected. We have the internet, smart phones, wearables and soon implants that communicate for us and with us. We are drowning in information and everything is documented and accessible for everybody. Abel Tasman would be flabbergasted if he witnessed how modern travelers use NTT DoCoMo phones to read and translate restaurant menus real-time and how taxi drivers in Tokyo use them as high-tech interpreters to communicate with their foreign passengers.
And yet for most businesses in Japan communication with the world is still a problem. Translation is costly and often a painful undertaking. Translation technology is coming of age. Machine translation technology is being tried and used by many small and large companies and government agencies. It is time for the translation industry to work together in sharing translation data, quality metrics and best practices. The TAUS Tokyo Executive Forum is an annual event for Japanese buyers and providers of translation and their overseas partners. Through an open exchange about language business innovation and translation technology participants seek to grow their business.
The TAUS Tokyo Executive Forum 2016 on April 19-20 is the sixth TAUS meeting in Japan. The first took place in April 2010 and was also hosted by Oracle Japan. For this year’s forum we ask all participants some simple questions: Are you ready to use technology? Crowdsourcing translation models? Social translation platforms? Advanced workflow systems? Sharing translation data? Agreeing on translation evaluation metrics? Using cloud-based translation management systems? What is the state of play? Is machine translation technology an option? Are your translators ready to work as post-editors?
In other words: “Hello Japan. How do we communicate?”