Laura Jennings, a PG Student in Translation Studies, was Durham’s nominated representative at Translating Europe Forum, a regular EU event which took place in Brussels at the beginning of the month. This year, the event focused on Machine Translation.
I was lucky enough to be asked to represent Durham University at the Translating Europe Forum in 2017, a 2-day conference held in Brussels in the aptly named Charlemagne Building (the Holy Roman emperor who ostensibly said “To have a second language is to possess a second soul”). The title of the conference was “New Skills, New Markets, New Profiles”, so discussions focussed on what impact machine translation would have on the industry over the next decade.
Although audience members were fairly divided when it came to their attitudes about machine translation, the conference showed how lots of new opportunities would be up for grabs as a result. Computer enthusiasts with good language knowledge would be needed to fix, improve and edit machine translation programmes, whereas human translators would still be required for highly confidential or creative material. Everyone agreed that machine translation is here to stay and is going to challenge and transform how we translate in future. Almost all the speakers stressed the importance of versatility – translators will need to be ready for these rapid technological advances. Technology was also evident everywhere at the conference: discussions were live-streamed so other translators from around the world could still take part, and the audience was invited to use a question app called ‘sli.do’ for posting questions for the panellists and answering polls to see the general consensus in the room. One of my favourite things about the conference was that every discussion had simultaneous interpretation into French, German and English!
It was also lovely to see so many young faces in the audience. I got to meet and chat with some of them in a special panel discussion for young translators, where we discussed how to get into the industry. I even stumbled across several other Durham students who were now DGT trainees! All in all, it was an excellent opportunity to learn more about the translation industry as a whole, what it might look like in ten years’ time and even squeeze in a waffle or two.