Why Translation Conferences are so Important

December 18, 2017

The following is a guest blog by Louise Taylor, content manager at Tomedes, a global translation company that also maintains its own blog. Don’t forget, CTA’s own annual conference is coming up in April!

Professional translators are spoiled for choice when it comes to translation conferences. No matter where you live, the chances are that you’re never too far from a translation conference venue. Such events play an essential role in the professional translation sector for a range of reasons. We explore these in further detail below.

Keeping up with industry trends

Every industry experiences trends as working practices shift and new technologies create new approaches. The translation industry is certainly no exception and translation conferences are one of the best ways to keep up with developments within the sector.

In recent years, this has become particularly relevant, with machine translation creeping ever closer to impinging on the role of the traditional human translation expert. The boundaries between traditional translation and machine-assisted translation are becoming increasingly blurred. Indeed, Upwork – the world’s largest freelancing marketplace, with some 12 million freelancers available – reported recently that natural language processing was the second fastest growing skill on the site during Q2 2017. The number of freelancers offering natural language processing skills has risen by more than 150%.

Keeping up with new trends and new demands within the industry by attending translation conferences is important for those looking to remain at the forefront of the sector and respond quickly to changes in demand.


Language evolution

Technology aside, the professional translation sector also continues to evolve linguistically. The English language is a great case in point. The Oxford English Dictionary is updated four times per year, to reflect the pace at which the English language is changing. The September 2017 update alone saw the addition of over 1,000 new words, senses, and subentries. That’s a great deal of linguistic change to keep pace with – and that’s only from a single language.

For translation professionals, organised events provide the chance to meet up to discuss these linguistic developments and how best to incorporate them into translations. For example, just because ‘worstest’ is now officially a word in English (Shakespeare may well be turning in his grave), doesn’t mean that it will have a direct equivalent in any other language. Translation conferences provide professionals with the opportunity to get together and explore such challenges in order to ensure that translations remain current and relevant in terms of the language they use.



For both individual translators and translation agencies, conferences also provide one of the best networking opportunities available within the sector. Translators are spread far and wide around the globe and many work freelance, meaning that they have few opportunities to network with their peers. Translation conferences provide the perfect chance for them to do so, while at the same time picking up useful new knowledge.

Networking at translation conferences and other industry events can be beneficial to translators for a number of reasons. There is, of course, the possibility of finding more work. Some of those attending will work for translation agencies and some of those agencies will be on the lookout for talented translators to add to their teams. As such, translators armed with business cards and the confidence to make new connections can do well out of attending translation conferences.

There’s also the possibility of meeting fellow translators from the local area, which can in itself lead to work opportunities. Some freelancers like to develop affiliations with their peers in order to cover periods of sickness or holidays, or those moments when there’s simply too much work to fit into the day/week/month. Whether they’re informal (“you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours”) or more formal agreements (such as referrals in exchange for commission), these types of arrangements can work well between fellow freelancers, providing them with greater flexibility than the average freelance translator is able to offer his/her clients.


Peer support

Finally, translation conferences provide an excellent opportunity for peer support, particularly for those who work freelance. Freelancing can be a lonely life and taking the time to meet up with fellow translators to discuss both the good and less good parts of the sector can provide a great morale boost, which lasts long after the event itself has shut up shop.

In this way, translation conferences provide a host of benefits to those who attend them. The benefits extend beyond the specified purpose of the event to incorporate a wide range of positives for delegates. This is why such conferences are so popular within the translation industry and why they will continue to be so well attended around the world even as the sector grows and adapts in response to technological changes.


Author bio

Louise Taylor is the content manager for translation agency Tomedes. She writes on anything and everything related to the translation industry, from the importance of human translation to the latest industry trends.