TM-Europe 2012: Putting a Face to a Name

International Translation Management Conference TM-Europe 2012, Warsaw, October 4-5, 2012.

4 continents, 21 countries, 87 participants, and 2 dogs.

Things are hard to predict, especially the future. This goes also for the future of translation management, the topic of the presentation by Mark D. Childress from SAP (SAP Language Services, Walldorf, Germany). Everything around is changing: becoming faster, more complex, more accessible. Marc’s presentation was full of examples, entertaining and good-humored. But it’s often villains who steal the show: “terminology criminals” conceal, obscure, bewilder and intimidate outsiders. Anyone experienced in translating from Medicalese? “Purposeful obfuscation” – this definition of what “terminology crime” is about will remain the catchiest and most memorable for many participants.

Reinhard Schäler, director of Localisation Research Centre at University of Limerick (Ireland), was all about social (i.e. non-professional) localisation and community translators. For localisation, it’s impossible to cope with the ever-growing amount of content. Blocking holes with machine translation, accepting the fact that in many socially and politically justifiable cases it is better to have something than nothing (at the cost of quality)? Reinhard believes in long-term benefits, but fails to explain how social localisation (“claim a task – translate it – upload it”) can present not a threat but an opportunity for those who still tend to charge for their language services. In the short term at least. But in the meantime, come Christmas and those of you who consider donations (and usually get in touch with the customers telling about your good deeds), do visit The Rosetta Foundation and donate. The underserved customers are probably not your market, in the short term at least.

Jerzy Czopik, Germany’s only EN 15038 certified freelance translator (and owner of TransDoku) in the panel discussion on Translation Standards. After publishing my – very personal – article about EN 15038 in MDÜ 3/12 (the magazine of the German translators’ association, check out the German version here, I received an email about TÜV SÜD (Germany’s certification body) dropping the certification due to foul tactics of certain translation agencies which cast a poor light on the TÜV brand. During the panel discussion Jerzy re-confirmed this fact. Unfortunately, I was not able to speak to him personally and learn more at the conference.

Jerzy’s “nuts and bolts” (e.g. pages or words as units of measurement, but also in regard to unit pricing) have provoked a discussion of translation market, or rather markets. If everywhere in the world a product can cost $$$ and also twice or thrice that much, depending on quality as well as other various factors, why are so many professional translators unaware of the fact that, charging easily comparable prices for incommensurable services, they effectively commoditize the whole “industry”. Yes, we may call it a translation industry, but, say, car manufacturing and translation don’t have much in common, or do they? Chris Durban (check out The Translation Journal) debating the subject of commodities with Stefan Gentz of Tracom OHG (Germany).

Paul Filkin on alignment of legacy files in SDL Studio 2011 after SDL Trados 2007 has finally reached its “end of life”. The name “Paul Filkin” was familiar to me seemingly for ages mostly from SDL support forums, but, in a (highly improbable) case you are a user of SDL software, but never heard of Paul Filkin, go to Paul’s Multifarious blog – a superb information resource on SDL, Trados, TEnT, CATs and beyond.

Bernardo Santos (Porto, Portugal) of Kilgray Translation technologies listening attentively to all things SDL, Trados, TEnT, CATs and beyond after hosting the Kilgray booth for hours in the exhibitor’s hall.

What’s new in MemoQ? Features and functions from the very source, that is Gábor Ugray (if you ever wondered why the MemoQ company is actually called Kilgray, the last letters in “Kilgray” stand for his name). ThanQ, Gabor!

Bastian Enner, a.k.a. Mr Plunet, presenting this comprehensive project management software package.

The Prosperous Translator

Coming back to the question above: why are so many professional translators keen on commoditizing the industry? “Translators are literate, but not numerate”, says the great Chris Durban (Paris, France). After her much tweeted-about appearance at BDÜ’s conference in Berlin a week before, I was sure her keynote presentation entitled “Bulk vs. premium – What it means and why you should be thinking about this” would be a similarly tremendous success. If the slides would be available, I urge you strongly to download them. And for sure, if you haven’t bought the book “The Prosperous Translator” yet, please do it, now. “This book is going to change your life” (Chris Durban). Seriously, if you want to buy at least one book FOR today’s translators (or LSPs, for that matter, both freelancers and agencies being language service providers, hear, hear!), buy this one and “get some skin in the game”.

Larissa Ekonoja from Fluid Translation, another American expat (Stockholm, Sweden): always keenly observant and to the point in numerous discussions of all translation matters.

This – both expat and active participant – goes for Steven Sklar, who, after he left a Wall Street bank (better then than now!), has been practicing financial translation for 20 years in Lyon, France.

“My girlfriend used to cook me breakfast within 30 minutes. There was certainly room to improve the process. Now I cook me breakfast within 15 minutes”. No worries, in real life Doug Strock knows how to avoid over-optimisation. He is the vice president of Global Language Translations and Consulting, Inc., a board member of the Association of Language Companies, a man with a 28 year career in the U.S. Army. He is a West Point academy graduate (BS in Aerospace Engineering) and a graduate from Oklahoma City University (MBA in information systems). He has been to probably countless meetings and conferences (at one of which he overheard the breakfast process improvement story). In Warsaw, Doug was a presenter (Process Improvement – Finding Hidden Efficiences), a panelist, an always active participant.

Alain Chamsi from JiveFusion Technologies (Canada): concentrating before his presentation (Best Practices in the Optimisation of your Operations and Project Management).

Grzegorz Wójcik from Magit (Wroclaw, Poland) moderated panel discussions.

“The Buck Stops Where?” An emotional highlight of the conference, an appeal to and proclamation of humanity, despite all the turmoil in translation circles. Kevin Lossner (near Berlin, Germany) spoke passionately about the future of translation and the future generation of translators. The recent translation conference in Berlin was called “Übersetzen in die Zukunft” (Translating into the Future). If our profession does have a future, if we (in short term, at least, see above) are not destined to end pitifully as post-editors of machine translated content (“which is something that some people call an emerging occupation, while I call it a horrible way to die” – Steve Vitek), it is thanks to those like Kevin, a translator, language consultant, author of the brilliant Translation Tribulations blog and the first book on MemoQ (scheduled to be published soon).

Kevin’s two dogs, Ajax and Jámbor, probably more interested in what was going on in the adjacent exhibitor’s hall (a potential fodder storage site) than in the conference main venue. Calm, sweet, and well-behaved.


The organizers and moderators of the conference – Peter Reynolds (originally from Dublin, Ireland), CEO and Consultant at TM-Global, and Monika Popiołek, President of MAart Agency Ltd. and the Polish Association of Translation and Localisation Service Providers PSBT:

Well, Peter and Monika, I will stop here and just thank you for having done a terrific job. I had no expectations. I learned about your conference through a post on Kevin’s blog and, since I didn’t have time to go to Berlin, thought why not? I had never been to Warsaw and, in case it would get somewhat boring, would just take my camera and go to Praga, Elektoralna or Chłodna to dabble in black and white, post-socialist street photography. I never came to that (but I did go to look for gentrification areas around Praga’s East Station on Saturday, Monika!). The conference was awesome. I am so happy for this chance to get to know so many wonderful talented people. In case somebody remembers what Kevin said at “Pod Gigantamy”, I would be happy to copy every word, capitalize it. It was a great conference and, if you announce staging the next year TM-Europe in Krakow (never been there either), I will book the ticket first thing tomorrow morning. For the time being, thank you so very much. I have promised to submit an article about the conference to MDÜ, the magazine of the German translators’ association. Probably, it will be more formal and more informative. Therefore, I will restrict myself to saying once again, thank you so very much for TM-Europe 2012, 4 continents, 21 countries, 87 participants, and 2 dogs. Looking forward to meeting you next year!

  1. Michal Wiewior’s avatar

    Hallo, ich habe persönlich mit Herrn Czopik in Krakow gesprochen und kann nur zustimmen – er ist eine sehr angenehme und professionelle Person und natürlich Übersetzer.



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