As a member of the translation industry who dabbles in university workshops, master classes, and Master’s programmes, etc., I always like catching up with those who spend their time researching the profession.

Those of us who are professional translators don’t find the time as we go about our daily work to reflect on new processes, the latest research trends in machine translation or gender in translation, and that’s why pausing for a few days to listen to interesting talks about where the translation industry is heading is so rewarding.

Consequently, attending the 1st International Conference on Translation and Cultural Sustainability as a speaker seemed like a good idea. I submitted my proposal last summer and it was accepted without any problems; for the first time I was going to attend a purely academic conference in the field I’ve been working in for over 23 years: translation and localization.

The place chosen for the event couldn’t get any better: the University of Salamanca during the celebration of its 800th anniversary. The entire university, and therefore the entire city, was decorated to celebrate eight centuries of transmission of knowledge and culture that this distinguished institution fosters. Walking around Salamanca, moving from building to building to attend presentations; I felt like one of the students who spends their years here before graduating. I wasn’t lucky enough to spend my student years at Spain’s so-called ‘Harvard for translation’, but during the conference, I got a feel for the appetite for knowledge cultivated by a university that has seen so many brilliant figures from Spanish history and culture walk through its doors. The main conference venue was the Hospedería del Colegio Arzobispo Fonseca and other nearby buildings, such as the R&D Multi-Purpose Building.

This first conference revolved around various research areas: literary translation, translator training, machine translation and post-editing, gender studies in the world of translation, accessibility of web content, the role of technology in translation, localization engineering, interpretation, and other topics relevant to the university community and the world of translation in general.

Huge numbers of people signed up for this first conference, including students, university lecturers from over 30 countries and well-known academics, such as Susan Bassnett, Dorothy Kenny, Pilar Sánchez-Gijón, Jesús Torres del Rey, Christiane Nord, Jorge Díaz Cintas and many other great professionals.

I believe that there needs to be constant dialogue between universities and the industry about the training needs of future translators, and therefore it struck me that barely any companies attended or spoke at the conference; the understanding between the industry and universities is invaluable for the professionalisation of translators.

In one of the round table discussions, I had the opportunity to comment on how the work undertaken by universities is irreplaceable. We as companies can instruct the translators who work in our offices on the processes and tools that we use on a daily basis to improve productivity and translation quality, and on getting started in the sector, but we can’t replace the knowledge that students acquire during their university education; we can’t show them HOW to translate.

During the three days of the conference, there were plenary sessions for all the attendees followed by talks in different rooms at the same time. It was impossible to attend all the sessions, so I mainly opted for the talks on post-editing, gender and translation technology. 

The academic focus of the sessions at first gave the impression that they wouldn’t be of much use to someone like me, from the professional world, who ploughs through numerous translations each day, leaving me little time to reflect on how I do what I’ve been doing for more than 20 years. Nevertheless, these days have been a huge help in terms of my professional maturity. I can safely say that the processes we follow in Tatutrad are correct and it has reaffirmed us in our belief that we offer an outstanding service to our clients.

Over the course of three days I had the opportunity to learn about and reflect on other possibilities, on new ways and processes to better manage my projects and offer clients the best translation service possible, on new post-editing processes for machine translation with proof-reading, and on the latest trends in the world of subtitling, to stay one step ahead and remain at the forefront of the translation sector.

At Tatutrad, we also try to attend the most important industry events to discover the trends in technology, translation memorie and linguistic corpus, and each year we review and refine our processes, both in the production department and other areas of the business.

At conferences like these, the human factor is fundamental; chatting in corridors, the friendly conversations with students brimming with excitement to start their professional careers and exchanging ideas with university lecturers. All this was made possible thanks to the drinks held in a unique setting: the chapel of the Hospedería, where at least three generations of professionals were able to exchange ideas and share our passion for the understanding of cultures and the spreading of multilingual knowledge.

Thanks to the University of Salamanca, I returned to work with fresh ideas for the new year.

Author: Rosario de Zayas Rueda