“Together” or apart
There’s a big translation conference being held in Barcelona at the beginning of next year, literally just down the road from where I live. Organised by the European Language Industry Association (ELIA), the two-day event on 11 and 12 February is already attracting considerable interest and registration is already open. “Haven’t you signed up already?” you’re probably wondering. Well, no…
The thing is, this conference raises as many questions as it looks likely to answer. To begin with, a quick look at its website makes it absolutely clear that this is an organisation of and for translation agencies. So the question has to be asked, what is it doing organising a conference which seems to be aimed at freelance translators? Perhaps talking about a hidden agenda would be taking things too far, but it must at very least think its members have something to gain.
Then there’s the name of the conference. Call me an old cynic, but using a title like “Together” smacks of some fairly hard sell just beneath the surface. Could it possibly be part of a concerted attempt to persuade us to smilingly accept lower standard, lower rates and higher levels of automation? The tone of the publicity material is reminiscent of that used by the agency I waved goodbye to in last week’s blog after it tried to make me swallow a big reduction in rates. So if I do decide to go and eat the canapés down at the Barcelona World Trade Center, I won’t be able to help the feeling of being a turkey being fattened up ready to vote for Christmas.
But maybe I’m being churlish. Among the speakers are well-known names in the languge industry not necessarily on the side of the big agencies, such as Lloyd Bingham, Andrew Morris and Sarah Griffin-Mason. There is even a talk by a neighbour of mine, Marco Cevoli, an Italian translator I know well, on the OmegaT tool (the entire programme can be found here). There are almost certainly things to be learned. There are also bound to be plenty of opportunities for chatting, networking, meeting new people and everything else that goes with a big conference. And, of course, it’s not often that such a big translation event takes place on my doorstep, so perhaps the sensible, open-minded thing to do is forget my misgivings and go along.
It’s a genuine dilemma and I really need to decide over the next couple of weeks. Do I stay at home working or do I go to the show? I’d really like this blog post to be the start of a debate on this conference because I’m just not sure what to make of it or what to do. So whether you’re going along to “Together” or whether the mere thought makes you shudder I’d love to hear from you with your thoughts and advice. Please leave your comments below.