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My first rodeo: ATC 2016

Cold feet and a warm welcome

ATC 2016 marked the association’s 40th conference, ZELENKA’s first as a new member, and my first conference ever. All feelings of anxiety quickly washed away, though, as I found myself surrounded by such friendly and interesting people.

A new standard for a new age

This year’s impressive program kicked off with an in-depth master class on ISO 17100 led by ATC ISO Representative Chris Cox and STP’s Raisa McNab. It debunked the myth that ISO is a certification process for companies—it’s actually a certification process for their individual services and products.

A replacement for EN15038, ISO 17100 delves much deeper by requiring more extensive background information on service suppliers, linguists, and staff. Services that are covered by 17100 have to be specifically defined to fit the criteria. Services that do not fully comply with the strict standards are not restricted but should clearly state this.

Brexit: What now?

Florian Faes from Slator chaired the “Full English Brexit”, joined by Jesper Sandberg of STP. The live Twitter feed was a nice touch and an interesting opportunity for people to share their views, as well. Myself an English expat, I was surprised by the room’s neutrality but the uncertain future of English-related language services in an EU minus the UK seemed to take centre stage.

Some attendees admitted to having already looked into opening offices abroad to retain the benefits of being located in the EU. Linguists and agency employees alike seemed to be grappling with the consequences of having to emigrate back to their respective countries.

As for the industry itself, I feel there will be more opportunities for English-related language services than ever. The language itself will not disappear from the European market and will have to be maintained, even if the UK itself is not represented directly.

Machine translation: The good, the bad, and the future

Machine translation and its impact on the future of the industry created quite a buzz. Brian Coyle of Kantan MT and I had a chance to exchange our views on the value of human translation. Can we really be 100% reliant on machines? I was apprehensive, but an afternoon spent with the enthusiastic MT presenters dispelled a lot of the stigma and myths. In short, MT is an addition to existing systems, not a replacement, and has the potential to effectively restructure the language industry and its growth.

Until next time, ATC…

Everyone involved did an amazing job putting this conference together and creating such a welcoming atmosphere.

The most surprising takeaway from this experience was my change in heart about MT and what it means for the future of the translation industry. I respect the designers, manufacturers, and vendors, who understand MT as a means of empowering human translators.

Thank you, ATC, for making my first conference a memorable one!

For more ATC 2016 Conference highlights and my experiences, check out my full article.

Roger Smith
Business Development Manager
Czech Republic

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