ChatGPT & LLMs – Separating Fact from Fiction for Localization


The language services industry is undergoing a profound transformation with the emergence of cutting-edge technologies such as ChatGPT and large language models (LLMs). These powerful language generation models have captivated the attention of businesses and language professionals alike, offering exciting possibilities for translation, localization, and content creation. In this article, we will explore the timeline of innovation leading to ChatGPT, the comparison between LLMs and machine translation, the diverse use cases for LLMs in the language services industry, and the challenges and future implications for the profession.

This article is based on a dynamic discussion during a live event featuring industry experts Laszlo Varga and Jourik Ciesielski, both seasoned Nimdzi analysts with extensive experience in the language services landscape, this article presents a holistic view of the subject. Throughout the event, Laszlo and Jourik shared their valuable insights, discussing the timeline of innovation that led to ChatGPT, the distinctions between LLMs and machine translation, the diverse use cases for LLMs, and the challenges and future implications for language professionals.

We encourage you to watch the full event to gain deeper insights into the fascinating discussions that unfolded. The live event provided a platform for Laszlo and Jourik to share their expertise and engage with the audience, fostering a rich understanding of the transformative role of LLMs in the language services industry. Additionally, you can review the full slide deck of the presentation, which will be available for download at the bottom of this page.

The article at hand serves as a written record, capturing the essence of the event's key takeaways.

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Timeline of innovation leading to ChatGPT

The language services industry has undergone a remarkable transformation with the emergence of ChatGPT and other large language models (LLMs). To fully appreciate the significance of ChatGPT, it is crucial to understand the timeline of innovation that led to its development.

The journey of large language models can be traced back to a series of breakthroughs in natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning. Researchers and developers have made significant strides over the years, pushing the boundaries of language understanding and generation.

The advent of recurrent neural networks (RNNs) revolutionized the field of NLP by enabling models to retain context and generate coherent text. However, it was the introduction of transformers that truly paved the way for large language models. Transformers, with their self-attention mechanism, brought unparalleled advancements in capturing long-range dependencies and understanding context within sentences.

The development of the GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) architecture further propelled the field forward. GPT models, such as ChatGPT, are pre-trained on massive amounts of text data, allowing them to acquire language knowledge and patterns from diverse sources. The pre-training phase equips these models with a broad understanding of grammar, syntax, and semantic relationships.

To fine-tune these pre-trained models for specific tasks, a process known as transfer learning is employed. This approach enables LLMs to specialize in various domains, including language translation, content generation, and interpretation.

The timeline of innovation leading to ChatGPT showcases a continuous drive to improve language understanding and generation. It highlights the collaborative efforts of researchers, engineers, and the open-source community, who have contributed to the advancement of large language models.

The introduction of ChatGPT represents a significant milestone in the field of language services. Its ability to generate human-like text and engage in conversational interactions has opened up new possibilities for language professionals and businesses alike.

By understanding the timeline of innovation that led to ChatGPT, we can grasp the immense potential and future possibilities that large language models hold for the language services industry. In the following sections, we will explore the applications of LLMs, compare them with machine translation, discuss the challenges faced by the profession, and delve into the future prospects that lie ahead.

Large language models vs machine translation

In the realm of language services, large language models (LLMs) have emerged as a powerful tool that can augment or even challenge traditional machine translation (MT) systems. Understanding the differences and nuances between LLMs and MT is crucial for language professionals and businesses seeking the most effective language solutions.

Machine translation, which has been around for several decades, relies on rule-based or statistical approaches to automatically translate text from one language to another. These systems have undergone significant improvements over time and are widely used in various domains. However, they still face certain limitations, such as the inability to handle complex sentence structures, idiomatic expressions, or nuances of context.

On the other hand, LLMs like ChatGPT leverage the power of neural networks and extensive pre-training on vast amounts of text data. This pre-training equips LLMs with a deep understanding of language and the ability to generate coherent and contextually appropriate responses. LLMs excel in generating human-like text, engaging in conversational interactions, and exhibiting creativity in their output.

While machine translation systems require explicit translation rules or training data, LLMs have the potential to generate translations without relying on parallel corpora. This makes them more versatile and flexible, particularly in scenarios where there is a lack of sufficient parallel data for a specific language pair or domain.

Additionally, LLMs can assist with content creation, rephrasing, and summarization tasks. They can be trained on specific data to adapt to industry-specific terminology, writing styles, or even brand voice. This versatility extends beyond translation and offers new opportunities for content generation and localization.

However, it is essential to note that LLMs are not a direct replacement for traditional machine translation systems. They excel in generating high-quality output but may still exhibit errors or lack domain-specific knowledge. LLMs are most effective when used in conjunction with human expertise, serving as a powerful tool for language professionals to enhance their productivity and efficiency.

As the language services industry continues to evolve, a combination of machine translation and large language models can provide the best of both worlds. Machine translation systems offer robustness, domain-specific knowledge, and post-editing capabilities, while LLMs add a touch of natural language understanding, creativity, and adaptability.

The future lies in finding synergies between large language models and machine translation, leveraging the strengths of both approaches to deliver accurate, contextually appropriate, and human-like translations. As we explore the applications of LLMs in the language services industry, it becomes evident that these models are not meant to replace traditional machine translation but to complement and enhance the existing translation workflows.

Use cases for large language models in the language services industry

Large language models (LLMs) are revolutionizing the language services industry, offering a wide range of use cases that extend beyond traditional machine translation. These models present new opportunities for language professionals, businesses, and end-users to streamline processes, improve content creation, and enhance communication across languages.

Machine Translation: LLMs have revolutionized machine translation, and platforms like Intento and Custom.MT are leveraging this technology to provide more accurate and reliable translations.

Source Content Optimization: LLMs can assist in optimizing source content by providing suggestions for improving clarity, readability, and cultural appropriateness. This helps streamline the content creation process and enhances the overall quality of the source material.

Engineering: LLMs can automate various language-related engineering tasks such as scripting, technical support, and automation. This improves efficiency and reduces manual efforts in managing language assets.

Multilingual Content Creation: LLMs introduce the concept of "post-creator," where the content is generated by the model itself and then fine-tuned or post-edited by human linguists. This approach accelerates content creation processes, especially for blogs, social media, documentation, and other forms of written content.

Authoring & Proofreading: LLMs can aid in authoring and proofreading tasks by providing style guides, templates, and linguistic context suggestions. They help maintain consistency in terminology, writing style, and brand voice across various content types.

Linguistic Context: LLMs act as a "turbo-powered Google" by providing linguistic context and supporting translation management system (TMS) integrations. Platforms like Crowdin, Lokalise, and Trados are incorporating LLM technology to enhance their translation workflows.

Technical Writing and Audiovisual Localization: LLMs can assist in technical writing projects by offering guidance on language usage and providing accurate terminology. In audiovisual localization, LLMs can help with subtitling and voice-over scripts.

Next-Generation Product Integration: LLMs can be integrated via APIs to weave together different language assets and create next-generation products that combine automated language processing with human expertise. This enables the development of innovative language solutions with enhanced efficiency and accuracy.

By leveraging LLMs in these various use cases, the language services industry can unlock new opportunities for growth, efficiency, and improved language quality across a wide range of content and communication channels.

These are just a few examples of the use cases where large language models can make a significant impact in the language services industry. As LLMs continue to evolve and improve, their applications are likely to expand further, unlocking new possibilities for language professionals and businesses alike.

Looking closer at content “post-creation”

Instead of traditional translation projects that require source content, a new system emerges where content is generated by large language models like GPT, and then "post-edited" or "post copy-edited" by human linguists. This innovative approach has the potential to transform the way content is created and localized across languages.

By utilizing large language models to generate content based on a content brief or a set of instructions, the need for full-scale translation is reduced. Instead, the focus shifts towards post-copyediting or post-creation, where skilled linguists refine and enhance the generated content to ensure cultural accuracy, brand consistency, and overall quality. This approach is not limited to English but can be applied to various languages, opening up a world of possibilities for global content creation.

This shift in the language services workflow offers significant advantages. Firstly, it streamlines the content creation process, enabling faster turnaround times and greater agility in adapting content for diverse markets. Additionally, it reduces the reliance on traditional translation services, potentially decreasing costs associated with translation while maintaining high-quality output. This repositioning of language services upstream in the workflow, towards content creation, reflects the evolving needs of the industry and the increasing demand for creative and culturally nuanced content.

As this new service model emerges, there is an exciting opportunity for linguists and translators to adapt and expand their skill sets. By training in the art of post-copyediting or post-creation, language professionals can leverage their linguistic expertise to refine and enhance machine-generated content. This specialized role requires a deep understanding of cultural nuances, brand guidelines, and effective communication. By embracing this new service offering, linguists can position themselves at the forefront of the industry, delivering value-added services that go beyond traditional translation.

It is important to note that while LLMs offer immense potential, they are not without challenges. Privacy concerns, ethical considerations, and the need for fine-tuning models for specific domains or industries are among the key areas that need to be addressed. As the industry moves forward, collaborations between language professionals, businesses, and researchers will play a vital role in harnessing the power of large language models effectively.

To summarize the discussion on use cases, large language models have the potential to transform the language services industry, providing innovative solutions for content creation, translation, language learning, customer support, and data analysis. By embracing the capabilities of LLMs and integrating them into existing workflows, language professionals can enhance their productivity, improve language services, and meet the evolving demands of a globalized world.

Challenges and future outlook

In addressing the concerns surrounding the impact of large language models (LLMs) on the language service industry, it is crucial to acknowledge the "elephant in the room." Will LLMs eventually eliminate the need for language service providers? Nimdzi's resounding answer is no. While LLMs have introduced disruptive capabilities, the essence of the language service industry remains intact.

Language service providers have always sold words, but their value lies in more than just linguistic expertise. They excel in removing complexity through project management expertise and leveraging their supply chain to provide language and cultural proficiency. Buyers, whether organizations or individuals, seek a streamlined and hassle-free experience. They don't want to micro-manage the language service or the freelancers involved. This fundamental aspect has not changed despite the advent of LLMs.

To navigate this evolving landscape, Nimdzi recommends adopting a proactive approach. Embrace the rise of ChatGPT, GPT-4, and LLMs in general, recognizing their potential as powerful tools. Analyze their strengths and weaknesses carefully, exploring how they can complement existing workflows and enhance service offerings. It is crucial to collaboratively define solid use cases in a joint effort with clients, sharing insights and expertise.

Language service providers should strive to become early adopters, seizing the opportunities that LLMs present. This involves thinking in two directions: first, considering how LLMs can be leveraged to build innovative products or services that cater to the changing needs of clients. Second, exploring how LLMs can streamline and simplify internal processes, making the lives of language professionals easier and more efficient.

Nimdzi also emphasizes the importance of open communication with clients. Engage in discussions about their specific business needs and objectives. Transparently involve them in the process, providing clear disclaimers regarding the capabilities and limitations of LLMs. It is crucial to strike a balance and avoid overcommitting while ensuring that performance meets or exceeds expectations.

Additionally, language service providers should leverage their talent pool to evaluate the results of LLM implementation. Drawing on the expertise of their linguists and translators can provide valuable insights into the effectiveness and accuracy of LLM-generated content.

Lastly, language service providers should prepare their supply chain for the changing landscape. The supply chain, which encompasses a network of language professionals and experts, remains a valuable asset amidst the whirlwind of technological advancements. By aligning and equipping their supply chain to work harmoniously with LLMs, language service providers can continue to deliver exceptional services that cater to the diverse language and cultural needs of their clients.

The rise of LLMs calls for a proactive and strategic approach from language service providers. Rather than fearing the disruption, it is essential to embrace it and explore the possibilities it offers. By understanding the unique strengths and weaknesses of LLMs, engaging in collaborative partnerships with clients, and leveraging the expertise of their talent pool and supply chain, language service providers can adapt, thrive, and continue delivering value in the rapidly evolving language services industry.


The advent and evolution of ChatGPT and large language models (LLMs) marks a significant turning point in the language services industry. These innovative technologies have the potential to revolutionize translation, localization, and content creation, offering many possibilities for language professionals and businesses alike. Throughout this article, we have explored the timeline of innovation that led to the development of ChatGPT, compared LLMs to machine translation, examined their diverse use cases, and discussed the challenges and future implications for the profession.

The timeline of innovation showcased the evolutionary journey that has brought us to this point, with advancements in machine translation, natural language processing, and neural networks laying the foundation for the creation of ChatGPT. Large language models, with their powerful language generation capabilities, are reshaping the way language services are delivered and consumed.

The comparison between LLMs and machine translation highlighted the distinctions between these approaches. While machine translation has been a longstanding solution in the industry, LLMs offer greater flexibility, adaptability, and potential for creativity. By leveraging LLMs, language professionals can enhance their productivity, automate repetitive tasks, and provide tailored linguistic services to meet the diverse needs of clients across various domains.

The use cases for LLMs in the language services industry are vast and exciting. From content creation and rephrasing to summarization and multilingual support, LLMs demonstrate their value in improving efficiency and generating high-quality outputs. However, it is crucial to balance the advantages of LLMs with human expertise and cultural nuances to ensure accurate and contextually appropriate translations.

Addressing the elephant in the room: Nimdzi does not foresee LLMs destroying the language industry. The reports of doom and gloom that you have heard have been exaggerated. While LLMs bring disruptive capabilities, language service providers' value lies in removing complexity through project management expertise and leveraging their supply chain of language and cultural proficiency. Buyers still seek a streamlined experience and do not wish to micro-manage language services. The essence of the language service industry remains intact amidst the advancements in LLM technology.

As we look to the future, the language services industry must navigate a set of challenges. Quality and accuracy, data privacy and security, fine-tuning and customization, ethical considerations, and the regulatory landscape are among the key concerns that need to be addressed. Language professionals and businesses must find ways to harness the potential of LLMs while upholding the highest standards of quality, privacy, and ethical use.

ChatGPT and large language models have ushered in a new era of possibilities for the language services industry. By embracing these technologies and fostering collaboration between human experts and LLMs, we can unlock tremendous potential for productivity, efficiency, and innovation. With a proactive approach to addressing challenges and a commitment to maintaining the integrity and ethics of the profession, the language services industry is poised for a future that combines the power of LLMs with the expertise of language professionals, ensuring the delivery of exceptional linguistic services in the digital age.

Still want more? Download the full presentation deck!

18 May 2023
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