21st Century Standards: From Quality to Productivity

Summary of the Endnote Presentation at the 2013 Conference of NETA

21st Century Standards: From Quality to Productivity


21st Century Standards:

From Quality to Productivity

(Why Utility is now more valuable than Eloquence)

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Reprinted from NETA News Volume XIV Number 55 Pg. 15

New England Translators Association, 2013 Conference in Boston

Endnote Presentation by Claudia Brauer (Summary)

Humans are undergoing an evolutionary transformation as we start to eliminate the last barrier in the world, which is still language. In the past decade, fundamental changes have occurred not only in the means of production worldwide but also in people’s relationships in a boundary-less digital society: geography is no longer a barrier and people now EXPECT to communicate across continents and cultures in their language of preference, right now (regardless of time zones), right here (wherever here is for them), via mobile devices.

The need for T&I has gone mainstream. This has created opportunities by expanding our markets beyond our wildest dreams. The T&I industry is growing above 15% per year, more than most other industries. Now it is big business. Now large companies are noticing. Now they are investing billions in research and development. Now they start to control the market and sell technological products to the masses.

Earlier this year “Microsoft hosted the largest ever translation industry meeting,” with 75 representatives OUTSIDE the traditional T&I industry. Translators and interpreters, as a group, were not represented. Why? Because we cannot agree on who (or what) represents us.

TAUS, the Translation Automation User Society (TAUS), a global community of 100 organizations, is re-engineer the industry to meet future demands. An estimated 300,000 professional translators and interpreters worldwide are not represented as a group. Why don’t we have power brokers? Because we are fragmented, dispersed and have no unified agenda.

We SHOULD be participating in these meetings, having a say in their resolutions, partaking in the decisions. Why are we not? Because we have so many conflicting interests, different agendas by association, and petty or profound rifts, and cannot agree on a clear design for our future survival.

Our profession is an endangered species. We need to take specific actions to preserve it or it will disappear. And the first step is to acknowledge the ailment. The paradigms we hold dear are shifting. Utility is valued over Eloquence as a measure of translation quality in the business world. Productivity is being sought over Quality. That is our current reality.

How do we redefine ourselves in this new world? What will we be doing for a living in 10 years? What are the changing roles of translators and interpreters in the global village? How are we, the professional interpreters and translators, helping to shape the industry we will be working in?

Our business model is obsolete. We need to respond to a new world without boundaries, where digital and mobile communication has collapsed space and time barriers. We have to make some urgent decisions.

Other than opposing progress, what positive contributions are we presenting? Other than complaining, what are we doing? Where is our strength as part of the “knowledge” pool of services in the world? How can we harness that power? How do we remain relevant?

We cannot keep looking at the current situation with yesterday’s point of view. We need to shift that mentality and become progressive. We need to start presenting a unified front. We need a worldwide unified agenda. We need to become one voice and demand our seat at the table of the powerful forces that are shaping our future.


Reprinted from NETA News Volume XIV Number 55 Pg. 15