BP17 Translation Conference – Part I


This year’s BP Translation Conference, organised by freelance translator Csaba Bán, took place on 5 & 6 May in Budapest, Hungary. More than 150 translators from around the world attended BP17 Conference and it was memorable.

Morning Sessions

The first day took off in the most beautiful venue, Uránia Nemzeti Filmszínház, located in downtown Budapest. Thirteen language professionals took the stage individually to deliver on an array of different topics in the form of short talks, TEDx style. The President of FIT (Fédération Internationale des Traducteurs / International Federation of Translators), Dr Henry Liu, delivered the first talk. Under the theme “There won’t be any translators in 2025. Really?”, the speaker talked about the future of translators, the translation profession and its place in the globalised world.

Most companies expanding to international markets worldwide feel that cultural factors and language differences have a significant impact on their business. Translators and interpreters help getting the message across. You need humans for this, because machine translation (MT) doesn’t do enough. Imagine your company faces a crisis. Nowadays, news travel fast and the whole world knows about a crisis within 24 hours. Companies need to act fast and communicate efficiently. Again, MT just won’t cut it.

That being said, the world needs translators and interpreters but we need to broaden our education and social skills. These differentiate us from machines and being different will keep us safe from being replaced any time soon. Honing our soft and social skills in order to offer added value to clients is one strategy to stand our ground. Also, we need to work together. That’s the solution.

Polish translator and localiser Dorota Pawlak was also a speaker during the morning sessions. She talked about blogging and how that can help attract more clients. There are obvious benefits to blogging: increase website traffic, reach more customers, position oneself as a specialist. But how to do it successfully? First, define your target audience. Then, find out their issues, write about them and present solutions. More tips? Don’t obsess about word count but do pay attention to SEO. You need to grab your reader’s attention in just a few seconds so, don’t be boring. Dorota also mentioned LinkedIn Publisher, a great tool to get online exposure. It’s free and, as LinkedIn is ranked high on Google, it can help you get noticed.

Dorota Pawlak was followed by David Jemielity, an English translator who leads a multilingual team of translators working at the Banque Cantonale Vaudoise (BCV), in Switzerland. David explained that, in BCV, they value translations which look as if they were written in the target culture. It’s not just about the target language but also about the target culture. So, producing a good translation means the text needs to allow for effective communication.
Right before lunch break we got to listen to Paula Arturo’s talk. The legal translator talked about the importance of working with a contract and informing clients of our terms of service. Paula also advised everyone in the room to negotiate (rates, deadlines, …) and to cooperate with clients. After all, professionals cooperate.

Afternoon Sessions

After a yummy lunch with colleagues, it was time for “If you mean business, become a better writer”, a talk delivered by Oliver Lawrence. The speaker shared useful advice on how to become a better writer. The list is long but getting a blog and writing one’s own material can play a part in improving your writing skills. During this talk, we were also encouraged to broaden our own linguistic horizons by exposing ourselves to different types of texts. Get out of your comfort zone, translators!
Minutes later, Michael Farrell shared his view on the use of CVs by freelance translators. Does it make sense to send your CV to a direct client? Short answer: No. CVs are usually used by job seekers when applying for a position in a company or organisation. If you’re not looking for an in-house position, a brochure is likely to make more sense. Maybe you believe you don’t need a brochure because you already have a website. Michael argues that brochures can be a nice marketing tool to send prospects/clients by email along with a quote. You can’t attach a link to your website, can you? Obviously, you can also have a hardcopy of your brochure for when meeting clients at events or meetings.

On a completely different note, Italian translator Caterina Saccani shared her experience “[c]ollaborating with colleagues to get and keep your target clients”. Caterina advocates helping potential clients when they need translators in different languages. Look into your network for someone who fits the project. If you help clients and colleagues with work you can’t do yourself, it will eventually come back to you. The motto was in the line of: by giving, you will eventually get back something yourself. Also, worried about getting sick or losing jobs when on vacation? Send those to trusted colleagues who can fill in for you. The key word here is ‘trusted’. Make sure you choose your colleagues wisely so that you can get back to where you left off.

Later that afternoon, German copywriter and translator Nicole König presented us with an inspirational and witty talk. Nicole “Vegan Translator” König got us thinking of our dream clients. First, define who your dream clients are, so that then you can “find’em, make’em, keep’em”. Become what you love and get the clients you dream of. This way, you will never have to work a day in your life.

Summing it up

Well, there is a lot more to tell about this first day of BP17. Many more fellow translators and interpreters got on the stage to share their knowledge and experience with us. It was a long day that started at around 9 a.m. and ended by 8 p.m. with a mega round of applause for the solo organiser of the conference, Csaba Bán. For those of you who weren’t present, I can only say that it was well worth it. But… on Saturday there were more sessions and more networking, so I will talk about that in a separate blog post. Stay tuned!

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