A short overview of Translating Europe Forum 2015, part 2

The Translating Europe Forum 2015 was held in Brussels on October 29th-30th. This year, the European Commission opened its doors to different stakeholders in the translation industry, from students to mentors, from researchers to young entrepreneurs. This year’s theme was “All about youth“, and young people were hence the main players in an event in which the 450 seats of the Alcide de Gasperi Room were filled from the first until the very last minute. The Forum was hosted by the Spanish translator and presenter Xosé Castro who, along with many other high-level speakers, contributed to a very enriching conference.

Two kids chatting moments before the Conference.

Two kids chatting moments before the Conference.

30th October: “The language of Europe is translation”

Valeria Aliperta was the first one to take the floor on Friday morning, with a dose of style and a very interesting presentation about branding: Brand yourself! Where a linguist should start when creating a company. Her approach highlighted the perks that branding has for a freelancer in today’s modern world. Branding is not just creating a logo, but giving your services a perceived value. A brand’s success depends on visibility and on how the brand triggers certain emotions and connects with the consumer’s inner self.

First of all, we must ask ourselves a question: What values do we want our name to be associated with?

And how do we link our values to our brand? Valeria’s advice is this:

  1. Identify your business. Have a clear vision of your aim, the project concept and the language services you offer.
    • Short
    • Memorable
    • Appealing
    • Simple
    • Honest
    • Iconic
    • Neat
    • Graceful
  3. Create a custom design you feel comfortable with.
  4. Choose a colour palette that fits your values. Do you want to be traditional or modern? Formal or casual? Are you a green person, or do you identify with the ellegance of black?

Xosé Castro made an aside at this point to recommend the tool namechk.com to verify that the name you choose for your brand is available for all platforms.

The work does not finish once the brand has been created. Branding is about communicating a promise, and promises are to be fulfilled. Once the client has seen your site as something to trust, remember to live up to your professional values. Meet the expectations, whether it be respecting deadlines, offering high-quality translations or keeping your blog updated.

Regarding blogs, try to write engaging content. Engage people by asking questions or creating collaborations.

Remember! You can’t give a second good first impression. If you prove from the very beginning to be a reliable, faithful and trustworthy professional, so will be your clients!

At this point, three different workshops were planned:

  • A second edition of Training translators in a changing world, from the perspectives of four young professionals and employers, moderated by Merit-Ene Ilja.
  • The role of translation for multilingualism, by Panagiotis Alevantis, Judit Sereg, Zoe Moores and Konrad Fuhrmann.
  • A “travel kit” for the journey to professional translator, workshop led by Joy Ogeh-Hutfield.

I attended Joy’s coaching session, but before telling you how we mastered the key mindset for success, I want to draw your attention to someone with the ability to go unnoticed yet an indispensable part of communication in an international environment such as the EU.

Interpreters. Yes, interpreters were the unsung heroes throughout the Forum.

As usual, Joy took the floor with so much energy an enthusiasm that I was amazed to see how the French and German interpreters could follow her. Well, it may seem obvious that in order to be a good interpreter you must be able, at least, to follow the speech. Not only did they follow the speech, but also the pace, the intonation, the firmness of Joy.  They kept exact amount of delay, enough to be able to anticipate the speaker but allowing us to laugh at jokes or to follow Joy’s instructions.

Fortunately, I have had the chance to listen to many EU interpreters during my traineeship at the CoR —even to work in the booths with them! However, all I had seen were solemn meetings and plenary sessions, never something as dynamic. We are used to see EU institutions as a place where seriousness is an absolute requirement. However, while listening to one of the German interpreters, I perceived he was too having fun and I liked to hear that. I found it a challenge to interpret someone so enthusiastic and to keep Joy’s emphatic tone, even if nobody was listening. Workshops like this one must be a breath of fresh air and an exercise of creativity for daring interpreters. Hip, hip, hooray for them!

Interpreters at #TranslatingEurope

German interpreter, smiling as he speaks

Joy’s travel kit was simple:

You are your #1 asset.

Ultimately, people will not buy a brand, but the person who is behind it.

For a mindset for success, you must first focus on 3 external factors:

  1. Your walk. Your walk has to have a purpose.
  2. Your voice and smile. Have you ever noticed, while talking to the phone, that your interlocutor was smiling?
  3. Your attitude.

Your brain functions by what you tell it. It does not know any difference. If your brain is not discriminatory, why don’t you fill it with good and positive thoughts? Let’s do an introspection exercise. Ask yourself the following questions and then fill in the table in order to bear in mind your priorities.

  • What is my definition of success?
  • Which are, in my opinion, the 3 core values for success?
What am I committed to do? (results) Why? (purpose) What steps will I follow for achieving it?  (procedure)

I assure you that we all left that room with a decisive attitude, some goals in mind for 2016 and the feeling that nobody could stop us.

Although Revision and Terminology sounded promising, I attended A translator’s palette of skills for the XXIst century, with Miguel Sevener Canals, Caroline Lehr, Anne-Charlotte Perrigaud and Marina Platonova as moderator. As I mentioned in my previous post about the first day of this Forum, the DG Translation has made available all presentations and videos at their website, so that we do not miss the chance to listen to Mathieu van Obberghen, Annina Meyer and Ayla Rigouts Terryn.

As many did previously, Miguel Sevener opened the session by mentioning the skills gap, the difference between University and the so-called “real life”. He wanted to create some controversy and threw the ball to our court by asking what is a good job? The market opinion of “good” differs from the consumer opinion. The market is often ignorant of our profession and responds to the demands of fast and cheap work.  Hence, it is not Universities but the job market that is failing to respond to what should be our industry’s core value: quality.

Miguel concluded with an invaluable piece of advice: we can and must shape the market to conform to our core values, and train translators for the industry we want, not for the one we have.

Caroline Lehr and Anne Charlotte Perrigaud made use of the interpretation service and gave their speeches in German and French respectively. I must applaud this decision, as they made us appreciate the interpreters work once again. Any interpreter will agree that  the difficulty of a speech increases when speakers do not use their mother tongue. And any speaker will agree that their mother tongue is the best one to convey every little nuance of our message, so why not using the interpreters at our disposal?

Caroline Lehr explained the benefits of emotional intelligence (EI) skills for translators’ performance and employability. We acquire emotional intelligence through our life experiences. So Caroline suggested an interdisciplinary approach in order to incorporate EI training to our profession. Translators are trained to acquire language, thematic, intercultural, technological, documentation and service provision competences. Nevertheless, the translation industry can apply emotional intelligence skills to those situations where we must cope with stressful situations and deadlines, manage our relations with clients and develop self-awareness in order to adapt to the changing market. This proposal seemed obvious and necessary to me. Not only should this be incorporated to translators training programmes, but also at Schools of Interpretation. Emotional intelligence is part of the everyday life of court interpreters, interpreters in conflict zones, interpreters in domestic violence cases and other public service interpreters.

Anne Charlotte Perrigaud explained how IT skills are also an asset in the translator’s curriculum. A new IT culture is developing and translators are gradually taking a conscious approach towards IT Security, although this is not enough. There is a general lack of awareness about cybersecurity, that we can complement with training courses or by introducing IT security competences and extralinguistic skills in the academic curricula, for example. The aim is to protect the translation business and data, and develop disaster recovery plans. After her intervention, the audience and the speakers engaged in a constructive debate, after which we proceeded to the closing session.

Languages take you to the Translating Europe Forum!

Languages take you to the Translating Europe Forum!

Xosé Castro and the Director General of DG Translation, Rytis Martikonis, co-hosted the session. It consisted in a small chat with the different sectors from the language industry: young professionals, students, employers, and the president of the EU Association of Translation Companies, Rudy Tirry. They gave the forum highlights and some food for thought. Mr Martikonis explained that even if the European Union is a political project, it is also responsible with the profession and feels obliged to give something in return. The previous edition of the Translating Europe Forum aimed to link up translation professionals, while this second edition wanted young translators to be the main protagonists. Judging by the “fully booked”, I would say they achieved it by far.

We had the chance to know professionals from all around Europe and listen to their personal experiences in the industry. We discussed topics such as the skills gap, visibility, awareness, the entrepreneurial side of the profession. We learned about documentation, IT and terminology resources. We got to know great initiatives, raised awareness on our professional responsibilities and stressed the importance of cooperation between Universities and associations, professionals and public institutions.  Quoting Sevener Canals,

“We are here to shape things”.

Translating Europe Forum gave us an outstanding opportunity to decide which path to take and the kind of industry we want to create.

To conclude, allow me to suscribe to the words of Jennifer Vela, as I could not have said it better:

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