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A First-Timer's Perspective of the ALC Conference

Posted By Alison Toon, Friday, July 15, 2016

(Originally Posted on June 23, 2014)


I recently attended my first Association of Language Companies (ALC) conference. Not my first translation conference, but the first of what I hope will be many meetings with the people who make up this wonderful community of translation agencies. Having spent many years on the “client side,” I’m now working on the supply side.

Diving into the roles, business, and concerns of all the people involved, to make sure that our translation agency partners have everything they need from us, is what my new job is all about. Together with my recent participation in the EUATC conference in France, I am developing a strong appreciation for all the wonderful details involved in doing business as a translation supplier.

At the ALC conference, I learned about the challenges of transferring multiple and diverse payments to multiple recipients, in multiple countries and regions, and how much time and effort are involved in finding the best payment process. I learned about the challenges of finding, training, and, most of all, retaining, highly-skilled, freelance translators. I learned how challenging the in-country review process can be from the language service provider perspective (I’m used to that challenge from the client side), and I had to wonder, “Why aren’t more translation providers and clients not insisting on a workflow that provides in-context editing and review?”

I learned to better appreciate the need for review of 100% matches for Slavic languages, and, on reflection, for any language where the word “it” might denote an object with a gender. And the subsequent risk to quality for certain types of content, if 100% matches are not reviewed.

I saw how translation and interpretation are helping to save and improve lives, not only through humanitarian action around the world, but also here in our local hospitals and legal translation services — through on-call telephone and video interpretation. How cool is it that, today, interpretation can be done at a bedside, by taking a web-enabled tablet to the patient and pressing a button?

How many industries are there where so much of the expert work is done by individuals and small companies of skilled people? How many industries are there with such deep partnerships across countries and languages, business sectors and industries, humanitarian and high-tech business sectors? Despite the challenges, isn’t this a great “place” to work?

The ALC 2014 conference attendees taught me a lot this week. Next time, I hope that I can bring some new learnings to them, too. Much as we learned with “Fridgie and the Internet of Things,” by Chris Carter of aLanguageBank how everyday devices are now able to interact through the cloud and intelligent connectivity , the technologies that assist the process of global content are also advancing rapidly. Together, we can help the world communicate, regardless of language, location, or business.

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