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Closing remarks

I am acutely aware of the limitations of the study reported here, but I might perhaps be allowed to record some personal reflections stimulated by it.

I want first to record how fascinating I found it to do this work: as the interviews progressed I became more and more enthusiastic about the job, and realised increasingly just how complex the SdT is and how different from any other translation service I have come across.

I should perhaps apologise for adding that I was agreeably surprised by the extent to which computer tools were available and were used. Even amongst those participants who did not make heavy use of computer aids, there seemed to be a strong awareness of their utility. I particularly enjoyed those participants who started by telling me that they were radically opposed to modernization and then went on to reveal an understanding and use of the tools available considerably above average, and those who told me proudly that they never touched a computer and went on to tell me how invaluable the help of their colleagues who did use them was.

My surprise perhaps came partly from the striking difference between the SdT of today and the SdT when I was last in close contact with it. In the early 1980's I was invited by the then Head of Translation Services in Luxembourg to give a series of seminars for translators and terminologists on machine translation and machine assisted translation. (Terminology Bulletin No. 40, 1981). The audience, on the whole, was interested and keen to understand the state of the art, but very few had any direct experience of using a computer for any purpose whatever, many were rather frightened at the idea of even touching a keyboard, and a few were downright hostile to the whole enterprise. Fifteen years is not very long in the lifetime of a large institution: the attitudes then and today are light years away from each other.

I hope that these few remarks will not be perceived as impertinence: I was immensely impressed by the SdT and by its ability to tackle a gargantuan task, and am grateful to have been allowed to observe at least something of how it is done.


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