My personal, remote coverage of the Translating Europe Forum 2016, Brussels, Oct. 27/8, for those who couldn’t attend or follow the live streaming and to retain the key messages and takeaways.

This was a great conference, combining the annual Translating Europe conference and a forum on Machine Translation and the latest technologies in translation, a subject notoriously touchy for our category.

Personally, I particularly appreciated two contributions, the speech by Andy Walker, lecturer of Translation Technology at the University of Roehampton, and the interview of Jost Zetzsche, author of A Translator’s Tool Box and co-founder of International Writers’ Group, LLC.

Both were quite encouraging for us as translators and particularly interesting because they looked at new technologies from the translator’s point of view, highlighting that these technologies are already here, and they’re here to stay, but they can be turned to our advantage. For instance, by leveraging fragment-level suggestions coming from MT.

Jost also stressed another good point: the advent of new technologies will lead us to abandon per word rates to adopt hourly rates, which can be very good for us, as long as we charge our worth. Jost also invited us to avoid an attitude of technology refusal, so often shown by our category, and instead to initiate a constructive dialogue with MT machine developers, which can only go to our advantage. We should re-write the narrative, avoiding complaints and adopting a more proactive and positive approach.

Key takeaways

  • Machine Translation and new translation technologies are already here and they’re here to stay. So let’s turn them to our advantage, for instance by leveraging MT segment-level suggestions so as to speed up our work, or by developing post-editing skills.
  • MT can’t of course be applied to any field – see transcreation, just to name one – but it is developing at great speed, agencies and companies are using it more and more, while the adoption and knowledge by translators is not as fast. Let’s take advantage of MOOCs, free MT machines/systems and other tools to keep up-to date.
  • Instead of fighting changes which are already here, translators should be more part of the conversation and drive the changes in technologies which would most benefit our work, to achieve a better interaction between machine and human skills. As Andy said, our aim as translators should be acknowledging technologies and complementing them, not getting substituted by them!
  • Let’s stop acting as the underdog and let’s start being more open-minded and  valuing our profession, our category and our work: our business model should be based on results, not on per word price. Let’s learn to set off our strenghts: intuitive knowledge, non-routine judgement, sensitivity to context, creativity.

Here is the programme of the conference, complete with the speechers’ bio.

And this is the Twitter* trail and my Storify, with the key messages I captured, together with some of those attending the conference.

* By the way, speaking of technologies, the conference experimented on a Twitter Wall, with tweets from people attending live and remotely, which turned out to be a huge success, with the hashtag #TranslatingEurope among the trending ones and a 0.5 million reach!

About the author
Laura Cattaneo is an Italian solo entrepreneur in the field of marketing, creative and legal translation and editing, specialist in hospitality, luxury and digital. She puts her many years of experience to the advantage of her clients by creating texts resonating with the Italian-speaking audience and making brands locally relevant. Connect with her on LinkedIn or visit her website.