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Doing Things Machines Can’t: How to Thrive in a Changing Industry

08/15/2017 10:16 AM | Thais Passos Fonseca

Doing Things Machines Can’t:

How to Thrive in a Changing Industry

By Kristy Brown Lust, MATI Director


Do you ever wonder how machine translation and other forms of artificial intelligence will impact your career prospects? Organizers of the On traduit à… series of conferences have a solution for translators—invest in improving skills at which only human beings excel. As the conference website states: “…your added value comes from doing things that machines cannot do. Things like detecting nuance of meaning. Navigating cross-cultural waters. Writing with simplicity and style. Those who hone their craft will flourish. Those who do not will be left behind.”


French <> English translators keen to take on this challenge gathered for the most recent conference in Quebec City from July 24 to 26, 2017. Over 120 professionals from around the world met for presentations, translation slams and hands-on workshops designed to improve their craft. Attendees learned ways to be creative under pressure, how to translate difficult words that often appear in French or English texts, how to make their translations sing, and much more.


Presenter Chris Durban, who led sessions on helping companies control their stories and working with journalists, said: “This conference isn’t focused on selling our services or raising prices, but on doing the hard work required to improve our language and writing skills.” This theme was echoed throughout the conference by presenters working in a range of fields.


Tips offered by presenters to improve skills included reading widely in your target language, subscribing to business press in your areas of specialization (in both source and target languages), exchanging proofreading services with a colleague, and attending events hosted by organizations in your area of specialization (e.g. insurance conferences, chamber of commerce receptions, etc.).


Photos taken at one of the "On traduit à..." conferences, in Quebec City, July 24-26, 2017.


Ultimately, although the translation industry is rapidly changing, attendees and organizers remain optimistic that translators who “improve their specialist knowledge and writing skills” will continue to find clients who need and value their services.


Looking for a local opportunity to invest in your career? MATI’s conference on September 23 is an excellent event where you can learn new skills to implement immediately and connect with other translation and interpreting professionals.


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Midwest Association of Translators & Interpreters
28 West Lake Street, Unit #8
Addison, IL 60101

American Translators Association
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Alexandria, VA 22314

phone: 703.683.6100
fax: 703.683.6122
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