The title to this post should not be interpreted literally; it was rather chilly in Budapest in the past couple of days. However, the inter-linguistic/inter-cultural temperature was extremely high thanks to a very cosy and successful conference for freelance translators from all around the world. But it wouldn’t be fair to begin my account before thanking Csaba Ban, the very discreet, yet extremely efficient organiser of the event. So, thank you, Csaba! It was a real pleasure meeting you and attending your conference!
Sadly, I couldn’t split myself in two (or even three) – if I could, I would have, believe me! – so I can only give you an account on the talks I actually attended. But if you followed the #bp14conf hashtag on twitter these days, you have probably gained a rather comprehensive perspective on all presentations by now.
Right, so I’ll begin right away with the buzzwords. Not at all surprisingly, probably the most discussed topic during the two-day conference was social media and the essential role they play in the translation world. It seems that these interactive tools have become the favourite toys of freelancers around the world for at least two reasons: (1) they help us effectively promote our services in an inexpensive manner, but more importantly (2) they allow us to communicate with each other! If you’re a freelance translator, you don’t get the classic coffee breaks, hallway chats or even lunch breaks during the work hours. And chances are that your closest mate is hundreds of miles away from you, maybe even in a different country. So, what better way to share thoughts, ideas and information than via twitter, LinkedIn and the whole bunch? And, yes, we’re pretty goddamn good at social media! Just check out the tweets covering the Budapest event. These should be convincing.
Another buzzword of the conference was Change. It is clear to everybody involved in the translation business that great changes are on their way. The huge amount of information published on a daily basis, the ever-growing role of technology in the translation process, the tight deadlines have all pushed the translation profession towards a major shift. (I keep remembering how Anne-Marie Colliander (@amclind) and Miklos Ban (@miklosban) said in their opening talk that translations used to be sent by post or even by coach back in the 80s). Basically, it seems that even though the need for translators is constantly growing, rates are dropping. Which brings me to the next buzzword: hyperspecialisation. Because the future belongs to hyper-specialised professionals, able to offer very high-quality and relevant services. I would mention here Rose Newell (@lingocode) who advocated in her presentation (rightly so!) that the key to success in the translation world is to be ”a writer worth paying for”. This means that you should not be a robot-like professional constantly doing as told, but a clever consultant, always ready to advise your clients on cultural issues and a truly efficient communicator.
Another buzzword was CPD (continuing professional development). The question of the relevance of formal certifications was raised. Are they helpful in attracting new clients? Is CPD the only way to ensure your prospects of your expertise? Just a couple of questions still waiting for an answer…
Other topics covered included software presentation, branding and PR tips for freelance professionals, transcreation, team-work facilitated by new technologies, medical translations and tips for translating guidebooks. All in all, the variety of topics discussed throughout the conference would satisfy even the most picky attendee.
These are just a couple of notes on the hot days in Budapest, that I managed to crop up quickly. Feel free to contribute with other thoughts in the comments section.