Breaking the Wall of… it’s Invisibility, actually!

Those of you who are following this blog from the very beginning know that it all began with a vision of a Fair Trade Translation Marketplace, where quality and translators’ expertise are the main differentiating features – not the price.

I was very happy to be one of the finalists who were invited to present their ideas as a 3-minutes-science-pitch at the Falling Walls Lab on November 8th, 2013 in Berlin. The Falling Walls Conference takes place every year at the anniversary of the “Mauerfall”, November 9th, the day when the Berlin Wall came down 24 years ago already. The Falling Walls Conference strives to be “The international conference on future breakthroughs in science and society”. The participants have very diverse backgrounds and come from all over the world, so I was able to talk with people from the media, with life sciences researchers, sociologists, artists, start-up founders, and managers of leading enterprises. As I was wearing a LOVE YOUR TRANSLATOR sticker on my badge, many people asked me what this was about so I told them about our sticker campaign and the vision of a Fair Trade Translation Marketplace.

Falling Walls Lab 2013

From all these conversations there is one major take-away I would like to share with you:
Most people I talked with did not know much about translators and translating. They are not aware of the fact that many professional translators struggle to earn a living from their work, but they agreed that this situation needs to change. Some told me about how difficult it was for them to find a qualified translator and that they didn’t know where to look for one. So they turned to LSPs, because they were easy to find online and they were cheap.

I argued that translation agencies who charge only 10 cents per word cannot offer good translations when only 50% of the money goes to the translator. In this case, quality is  subordinate. I also illustrated that clients should always look for high-quality translations, since they invest a lot of time and resources in sales, branding and marketing. And if they want to sell their products or services in Japan (for example), they would never send a sales person who is not qualified, doesn’t speak Japanese perfectly and doesn’t know the Japanese culture well. This should be common sense to everyone who wants to grow their business, but it’s not.

In my opinion, the challenge of professional translators is not dumping prices, it’s not automation, it actually is the invisibility of the profession. We have to change this!

If you are interested, you can watch my presentation on their website.
It’s easy to find: Just click on the Livestream tile, then watch the Livestream Lab Part 1. My presentation starts at 46 minutes and 35 seconds.

Or you can flick through my slides:

And you can read my speech here on our blog.


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