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Translators' aids: user profiles

Translation has traditionally been seen as the work of professional artisans who diligently translate other peoples' text in the best possible manner. Translation has been considered separate from other activities such as marketing or research and development - if not even subordinate to them. In some respects translation has been a buffer between the internal activities of an organization and its international contacts.

With the dramatic increase of international contacts the picture has changed. More and more people other than translators or interpreters are personally involved in translation and dealing with people in a foreign language, be it orally or on paper. The amount of text to be translated is growing and so is the number of languages involved. Furthermore, the level of translation that is expected is beginning to vary as information is sometimes needed more for its general contents than for reading pleasure. That is, the translation can be less than perfect in style. All this is starting to make a mark in the arrangement of translation activities in different organizations.

Thus, translation is no more just the activity of individuals but rather a collective process of an organization. Therefore the concepts of user and user profiles are used in this text to denote collective entities, that is organizations. Naturally the actual users of any translators' aid are individual persons, who could also be classified, but this perspective is given lesser notice in this text.

In the following sections, we give indicative summaries of the various dimensions relevant to distinctions amongst users. These summaries are not necessarily complete. They should be seen as starting points.